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Haverfordwest: Protest over Further Education cuts

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Helping the environment: Pembrokeshire College are to benefit financially.

Helping the environment: Pembrokeshire College are to benefit financially.

THE UNIVERSITY and College Union are holding a gate protest at Pembrokeshire College on Wednesday over funding cuts that they say will ‘decimate’ adult education in Wales.

The protest is concerned with the proposed 50% funding cuts to the adult education budget in Wales next year.

The cuts, announced for the academic year beginning in September, will severely reduce the opportunities available for adults, many of whom are ‘second chance’ learners returning to education later on in their lives to improve their job prospects.

There will be an average 6.14% budget cut at Wales’s 15 colleges between 2014/15 and 2015/16 but that smaller percentage masks the much more savage cut to courses for those over 19 years of age, which will bear the brunt of savings in favour of other priorities – courses for 16-19 year-olds.

UCU have warned that the cuts will lead to significant course closures and job losses. At Pembrokeshire College, the cuts will affect all Curriculum areas.

Local UCU representative Antony Davies said:  “These cuts would be a devastating blow to colleges and risk decimating further education. We have real concerns that the Welsh government’s plans could be the final nail in the coffin for the types of courses people want to study as a springboard for improving their skills or just to try and get back into work. We urge the Welsh government to pull back from this.”

UCU members will be joined by colleagues from the National Union of Students and Unison in a protest outside the gates of Pembrokeshire College on Merlin’s Roundabout.

The union sees these protests as the start of a campaign to persuade the Welsh Government to change its mind about the level of cuts in funding being made available for post-19 education in the academic year 2015/16.

It was announced last year that £26million was being cut from the post-16 education budget, with the majority of that money to be taken from post-19 education.  Experts have warned that the cuts could effectively see the end of adult further education.  At the time, Dr Phillip Dixon described the likely impact of the cuts.

“I think it will be devastating,” he said. “There will be virtually no provision for post-19 education in further education. And I think it will have a knock-on effect on several areas – particularly on those who want to go back to education, those who want to up-skill and those from non-traditional learning backgrounds, including older people who are wanting to engage with education and learn new skills.”

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Education

New free school meals policy launched at Ysgol Bro Preseli in Crymych

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A NATIONAL scheme to roll out free school meals to the youngest learners in primary schools in Wales has been launched today (Wednesday, 7 September) by First Minister Mark Drakeford and Sian Gwenllian MS at Ysgol Bro Preseli in Crymych.

In Pembrokeshire, the rollout will include learners in:

full time nursery

• reception

• and years 1 and 2 pupils in primary schools

Known as the Universal Primary Free School Meals, the policy is part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.

The agreement will see free school meals extended to ALL primary school learners over the next three years.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “No child should go hungry. Families throughout Wales are under huge pressure because of the cost-of-living crisis and we are doing everything we can to support them.

“Extending free school meals to all primary schools is one of a number of measures we are taking to support families through this difficult time.

“I’m really pleased to see how our schools have embraced this and the speed at which they and our public services have worked together to begin providing free school meals.

“We know younger children are more likely to be living in relative income poverty, which is why the youngest of our learners will be the first to benefit.”

Cllr Guy Woodham, Cabinet Member for Education and the Welsh Language, said Pembrokeshire County Council were delighted to support the policy.

“Families are facing difficult times with the increasing everyday costs of living, so free, nutritious school meals for our youngest learners are great news,” he said. “No child should come to school hungry or be hungry during the day.

“We’d like to encourage parents of children in full-time nursery, reception and years 1 and 2 in primary schools to take advantage of this fantastic scheme from Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.”

Ysgol Bro Preseli Headteacher Mrs Rhonwen Morris said: “As a school we aim to provide all learners with the same opportunity to thrive. We nurture learners from a young age; academically, socially and physically.

“We welcome such a progressive scheme ensuring that learners are provided with a nutritious balanced diet that will support all aspects of their education, progress and wellbeing.

“We look forward to seeing this scheme being extend to all primary school learners over the next three years thus ensuring equity for all in primary education.”

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Education

Blue Gem Wind support Pembrokeshire College with new BTEC Engineering Course

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BLUE Gem Wind are supporting Pembrokeshire College with a BTEC Engineering course aimed at providing a pathway to renewables for 14-16 year-olds. The new course, which begins in September, will be delivered in partnership with other local renewable energy companies and is supported by the Skills and Talent strand of the Swansea Bay City Deal.   

Mike Scott, Project Managing Director at Blue Gem Wind, explained. “The offshore wind sector around the UK is progressing at a pace that is already seeing skills shortages, particularly in engineering roles. As we continue to develop Wales’ first floating wind project it is crucial that we play a meaningful role in supporting Pembrokeshire’s future generations to get ready for a career in floating offshore wind.”

David Jones, Stakeholder Manager, added, “We are looking forward to working in collaboration with the college and other local renewable energy companies to deliver this exciting new course. This focus on 14-16 year-olds will complement our primary school STEM related programme.”

Hayley Williams, Curriculum Development Manager at Pembrokeshire College, said. “Pembrokeshire College is very excited to offer this unique collaborative programme to learners from Milford Haven School and Ysgol Harri Tudur. Blue Gem Wind will bring real life examples of floating wind engineering challenges for the pupils to consider, and the type of job roles and thinking needed to solve them. Enthusing young people about the emergence of new career pathways will help future-proof a skilled workforce for the renewable energy sector in Pembrokeshire.

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Education

Universal Primary Free School Meals roll out will commence in September 2022

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FROM September, schools in Pembrokeshire will roll out Free School Meals to children in:

  • full time nursery
  • reception
  • and years 1 and 2 pupils in primary schools

The Universal Primary Free School Meals policy is part of the Cooperation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, which will see free school meals extended to all primary school learners over the next three years.

You can find out more here: https://gov.wales/find-out-about-free-school-meals

Please also see more information here, including FAQs: www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/school-meals/primary-schools-menu

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