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Concerns over technology policy in Welsh schools

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Technology Expertise: Will Welsh schools get it?

Technology Expertise: Will Welsh schools get it?

EDUCATION SECRETARY for the UK Government, Nicky Morgan, announced this week that technology companies such as Google and 02 are to support a £3.6m investment in tech and computing skills in Primary schools.

Mrs Morgan has said that schools need to be better connected to technology firms. Speaking at the annual BETT show in London she said: “We are committed to supporting tech companies to connect with our schools – preparing young people to succeed in the global race. Increasing the focus on subjects like computing is a key part of our plan for education – which is why we are investing in the latest training and support so our teachers are fully prepared to plan, teach and assess the new computing curriculum.”

Commenting on her Government’s initiative in Westminster, Shadow Education Minister in the Welsh Assembly, Angela Burns stated: “In today’s digital age it is very important that our schools teach children and young people digital skills. Their tomorrows are going to be full of technologies yet to come and they will need a range of sound digital skills. Real life application will become very important and a great way of gaining that experience is by involving technology companies in curriculum delivery. These companies can show students examples of how they can use these schools. The companies can also bolster the training of teachers and provide additional resources. My concern is that whilst the English Education Minister is putting in place key partnerships with global organisations such as Google and O2 the Welsh Education Minister struggles to get such support. The Minister must not be afraid to involve organisations with such a wealth of market and research experience. They can support our teachers and inspire our young people.”

Plaid Cymru Shadow Education Minister Mid and West AM, Simon Thomas said: “Parents with children still in school should see a marked decrease in the amount of worksheets brought home as technology now provides some of the best ways for teacher and pupil to discuss and feed back on class work. I was surprised when my research discovered that the digital platform provided by the Welsh Government to facilitate this, Hwb, was being underused. The Hwb platform is designed to give pupils and teachers greater access to online resources. It is intended to provide a valued interaction between teacher and pupil, including feedback which is identified by Estyn as a key way of raising standards. However, only 31% – at most – of Hwb accounts were used between September and November 2014. We need young people equipped with the skills that can make the Welsh workforce a global competitor and just as importantly the skills to access knowledge throughout their lives.”

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Education

Delight as foundation phase learners return to class

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PEMBROKESHIRE Headteachers have reported very positive returns to school for Foundation Phase Learners.

All Foundation Phase Learners returned to schools on Monday, March 1st and attendance has been reported at almost 90% since.

The Council’s Director for Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said: “A wide range of council services have worked together to ensure that Foundation Phase pupils have been able to return
safely to school.

“I am particularly grateful to all school staff and families for ensure that learning is now available for our youngest learners face to face.”

Headteachers remarked how schools have filled with smiles and laughter following the safe and phased return of Foundation Phase learners.

Cora O’Brien, Headteacher at Waldo Williams School in Haverfordwest emphasised how quickly learners have settled back in to a routine.

“It has been an absolute joy to hear their laughter in the playground and to observe their love of learning face to face once again. I thank everybody in the Waldo Williams School
community for working so hard to ensure that the transition went smoothly.”

Vicky Hart-Griffiths, Headteacher of Ysgol Hafan y Mor in Tenby, said: “It has been wonderful to welcome all our Foundation Phase learners back to school. They are thriving, being amongst
friends and back to a school routine.  

“All the pupils have spoken about how happy they are to have returned and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome them back and we can’t wait until we have all our pupils back in school.

“The school feels alive again and there’s a positive buzz and laughter once again echoing throughout the school.”

Gareth Lewis, Headteacher at Broad Haven CP School said children had returned “with real enthusiasm, and have been very keen to meet up with their friends.”

Mr Lewis added: “Our parents have been very supportive and positive about the return, and those with older children are very much looking forward to a wider return to schooling.”

Mr Richards-Downes said plans were now turning to more learners returning to schools in the near future.

“We are looking to the next phases of the re-opening of schools on the 15th of March as long as the government guidelines allow.”

Further details will be released in due course.

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Education

Teacher’s gruelling challenge to help visually impaired child

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TEACHER Sion Jenkins is running 100 laps around a famous Pembrokeshire landmark to raise money to help a visually impaired child in his class.

He is aiming to raise £2,000 on crowd funder platform Go Fund Me by doing laps of Carew Castle and Mill in just 24 hours, about one hundred miles in total.

Sion said: “I decided that I wanted to raise money to help purchase a trike/adapted bike to help a visually impaired child in my class.

“Due to his sight, he isn’t able to ride a bike – and is desperate to gain some independence/confidence and ride a bike like every other child.

“On the back of a challenge set by school, to complete the ‘100 challenge’ as a tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore, I decided to tie the two together and have a go at completing this gruelling challenge.

“100 laps of Carew Castle and Mill will total just under 100 miles – in less than 24 hours.”

If you would like to contribute to this epic challenge this is the link:

https://uk.gofundme.com/f/carew-mill-100-laps-in-24-hours?

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Education

Schools partnership promotes the benefits of outdoor learning

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OUTDOOR learning across the county has received a welcome boost over the past 12 months as a result of additional funding secured by the Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools (PODS) project, which has covered the cost of a Co-ordinator working directly with schools.

Thanks to financial backing from the People’s Postcode Local Trust and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust, the PODS Co-ordinator has been able to help with the delivery of high quality, curriculum-linked learning experiences in school grounds and local outdoor spaces.

Part of the Co-ordinator’s role is also to bring together local and national organisations, including Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Discovery team, teachers and head teachers. Pooling their diverse knowledge and expertise, the partnership seeks to share good practice and promote the benefits of taking lessons outdoors.

Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools Co-ordinator Bryony Rees said: “Last summer, the Welsh Government recognised the importance of outdoor learning in the post-lockdown return to school. We have been working hard to support this by giving children and teachers increased opportunities to take their learning outdoors.

“We have already engaged with a number of schools across Pembrokeshire and produced some live webinars. Supporting resources for these can be found on HWB. This has made it possible to reach out to even more schools with practical information, inspiration and advice on delivering outdoor learning programmes.

“Several schools have taken the opportunity to develop their school grounds to support outdoor learning and more recently, Neyland Community School has introduced outdoor lessons every Friday.”

During the most recent lockdown, work has continued online and the PODS website has been developed to provide teachers with some learning resources. Outdoor learning ideas and inspiration for teachers and parents are also shared on the PODS Facebook page (Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools) and on Twitter @PembsOutdoorSch.

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