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Pembrokeshire College management excels



Proud of the college team: Sharron Lusher

Proud of the college team:
Sharron Lusher

THURSDAY November 5 will see the NSMW team serving school meals to the Members of the National Assembly for Wales. We will be situated in the Neuadd in the Senedd, which houses the public reception and information area, and was conceived as an orientation and event area when the home of the Assembly was designed and built earlier this century. It will be a terrific opportunity to show the quality of a modern school meal to both the AM’s and members of the general public.
Cardiff Council Education Catering are producing an exciting menu of mains and desserts from both their regular primary and secondary menus that will reflect both the ethnicity of the city as well as some traditional Welsh favourites. In addition they will select a number of their chefs and support staff to produce the food in the Senedd on the day and we will be uploading the final choice of dishes shortly so keep checking the site. Assembly Member for Arfon in Gwynedd, Mr Alun Ffred Jones has sponsored the event (it is a requirement that any event in the Assembly building has to have a Member sponsor it) and said: “I am delighted to be involved with National School Meals Week and happy to sponsor the LACA event at the Senedd.
Teaching children from a young age about the benefits of healthy eating and living, while making the learning fun and enjoyable is what makes this initiative so important. “Research has shown that children, who have had a healthy, nutritious lunch, concentrate better, have improved behaviour and increased educational attainment. Holding high profile events helps to put this message across via the various media channels and informs parents, resulting in improved uptake.” The LACA Wales committee are delighted that such a high profile event is taking place at the heart of Welsh Government and that school meals are being shown in such a positive light.
Chair Toni Edwards commented: “The Welsh LACA (Lead Association for Catering in Education) Region is absolutely thrilled that the Assembly Member for Arfon in Gwynedd Mr Alun Ffred Jones is sponsoring us to attend the Senedd for National School Meals week. School meals are an important part of the school day and this high profile event will help highlight the exceptional work that goes on across Wales.
“Welsh school meals pack in all the essential vitamins and minerals needed for a child’s healthy development and this event will enable us to showcase our success and hopefully encourage more parents to take up the offer of meals for their children. The whole Region is looking forward to the event, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate how successful Wales has become in supplying excellent meals for our young customers.” It will be an outstanding way to celebrate all that is great about our industry in such an iconic location and will be the high point of what should be another successful National School Meals Week.
COLLEGE leaders have been judged as ‘Excellent’ by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate Estyn following a recent inspection of the College-led work-based learning Consortium – *B-wbl.
Estyn’s inspection team (the same common framework which covers school, colleges and workbased learning) judged the College’s leadership as ‘highly effective in setting clear strategic direction for the delivery of their work-based learning contract’. The current performance was rated as ‘Good’ with the Prospects for Improvement as ‘Excellent’. In total there were 10 ‘Good’ judgements and 5 ‘Excellent’ judgements. The college management team were identified as having a clear focus on effective collaborative working and the improvement of learner standards across all Consortium members. Pembrokeshire College Principal, Sharron Lusher has commended the College staff on their achievements.
“I’m so proud of the College team who have worked tirelessly to ensure all our learners in the Consortium have every chance of succeeding. Our results show that the dedication and support of an excellent team of staff across all our Consortium partners has played a key role in ensuring we deliver high quality learning and teaching. To have this endorsed in such a positive way by Estyn, with all areas being judged as either excellent or good is such a boost for the Consortium team.”
Work-based learning which is part financed by the European Union Social Fund, provides apprenticeships and higher apprenticeships in the workplace across a wide range of industries in south and mid Wales, including construction, engineering, business and management, veterinary nursing and forestry management have recently been added. The Consortium’s success rate is 2% above the national comparator at 86%. This result is down to a highly skilled and qualified workforce who are committed to ensuring learners progress well on their programmes. Estyn inspectors noted the effectiveness of learning and teaching and reported: “Tutors and assessors have good subject knowledge, suitable occupational skills and industry knowledge Partnership working and the learning environment were also given excellent judgements, the latter reflecting the honest and inclusive culture embedded in the Consortium’s values and ethos.
There are over 5,000 consortium learners, with a few now opting for the higher apprenticeship programme as an alternative to university. Former soldier and student Stephen Thomas was selected for the higher apprenticeship programme at Valero. Simon Cuff who is a health and social care apprentice at Marlowe St David’s Educational Unit, has reached the finals of the Higher Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2015. “As a new partner in the Pembrokeshire consortium, the College Merthyr Tydfil were delighted to be involved in the inspection, which has commended the high quality programmes delivered across the consortium for all learners,” Deputy Principal, Jonathan Martin.

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£18m to support children and young people with additional learning needs



NEW funding to support children and young people with Additional Learning Needs has been announced by Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language.

£18m will be made available to provide extra support for children and young people with ALN who’ve been affected by the pandemic and to help educational settings as learners move to the new ALN system from this month.

£10m of the funding will be used to support learners with ALN affected by the pandemic and to improve their wellbeing. During the pandemic, many disabled children and young people, including learners with ALN, continue to experience a negative impact on their mental health and difficulties accessing education.

The funding will add to existing support for ALN learners, such as intensive learning support and speech and language therapy. The funding can also be used to provide extra resources to target the impacts of the pandemic, such as mental health support and tailored support to help with attendance.

£8m will be allocated to schools, nurseries, local authorities and Pupil Referral Units to move learners from the old Special Educational Needs (SEN) system to the new ALN system, as the roll-out of the Additional Learning Needs Act continues.

The new ALN system, being rolled out over three years, will ensure children and young people with ALN are identified quickly and their needs are met. The Act makes provision for new individual development plans, designed to put the views of learners at the heart of the decision-making process, alongside those of their parents or carers.

Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles said:

“We are determined to deliver a fully inclusive education system in Wales – a system where additional needs are identified early and addressed quickly, and where all children and young people are supported to thrive in their education.

“Schools and nurseries are already doing a fantastic job of supporting their learners, but we know they need more resources to do this. That’s why I’m announcing this additional investment to support learners to overcome the effects of the pandemic and prevent the entrenchment of inequalities on their education, employment opportunities, their health and wellbeing.”

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Over £100m of new funding will help make schools and colleges Covid-secure



Schools and colleges to receive additional funding

SCHOOLS and colleges will receive £103 million in Welsh Government funding, as learners return for the January term.

£50m will be provided via local authorities through the Sustainable Communities for Learning programme. The funding will help schools carry out capital repair and improvement work, with a focus on health and safety measures, such as improving ventilation. The funding will also be used to support decarbonisation.

£45m of revenue funding will also help support school budgets, assisting schools as they continue to deal with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and to prepare for the requirements of the new curriculum.

An additional £8m will be provided to further education colleges, to ensure learning can continue safely and ensure the most disadvantaged learners are not further impacted by the pandemic.

Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, said:

“I know schools and colleges have faced a very difficult time and everyone across the workforce has worked incredibly hard to meet the challenges of the pandemic. This funding will further support our schools and colleges to keep settings as Covid-secure as possible.

“While we want to support the sector in recovering from the pandemic, we also have to make sure we continue to plan for the future, and help all education settings across Wales fulfil our collective goals of making Wales a net-zero nation.

“The funding announced today will help us to ensure sustainability across the sector – be that the environmental sustainability achieved through decarbonisation, or sustainability in provision.”

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Union calls for ‘immediate action’ to keep schools open in January



A TEACHERS’ union is calling on the Welsh Government to “take urgent action” to reduce the potential risk of further disruption to education as a result of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The surge of Covid cases in Wales, driven by the spread of the Omicron variant, is expected to cause significant staff absence issues when schools return next week.

Some schools need to start planning for pupils to return to online learning, Wales’ first minister said last week.

Mark Drakeford said teacher and staff illness will mean some pupils returning to home learning, but decisions would be made by individual councils, rather than the Welsh government.

The NASUWT union said its members “desperately want to be able to provide face-to-face teaching for all children and young people in the next academic term without further problems caused by the pandemic.”

While NAHT Cymru Director Laura Doel said: “The availability of staff is the biggest threat to education in January. Without the workforce fit and well, learners cannot go back to the classroom.”

NAHT Cymru Director: Laura Doel (Pic: BBC Wales)

The Welsh Conservatives want the government in Wales to “follow in the footsteps” of their English counterparts and invite “an army of ex-teachers to return to classrooms” in a bid to ease any potential pressure.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said teachers have been “on the frontline throughout the pandemic to support pupils and students and provide them with the best education possible.”

“However, the rising number of cases of the Omicron variant could cause significant disruption in the next academic term with many teachers being forced to self-isolate.

“The Welsh Government must take immediate action to ensure that schools can continue to operate safely and provide high quality education.

“This is particularly important to protect disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people who have often been affected most by the pandemic.”

The NASUWT is urging the Welsh Government to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission by providing government-funded air cleaning units to every school and college that needs these devices.

They are also calling on the Welsh Government to support household close contacts to self-isolate to reduce the risk of transmission and wider disruption within schools.

The union wants the government to commit to providing schools with more resources to enable on-site Covid testing.

The NASUWT has also called for improved financial support for schools and colleges to help with the cost of supply staff to cover for Covid-related absence.

Neil Butler, NASUWT National Official for Wales, said: “Teachers, pupils and students, and parents will be concerned about the potential risk of further disruption to schools caused by the Omicron variant.

“The Welsh Government must do everything it can to prevent schools from experiencing significant staffing problems next term and further damage to the education of children and young people.”
Staff availability, biggest threat to education.
NAHT Cymru Director Laura Doel said: “The availability of staff is the biggest threat to education in January.”

“Without the workforce fit and well, learners cannot go back to the classroom.”

“If LFTs for close contacts need to be taken for 7 days there must be a supply available for schools.”

“If track and trace are supposed to support the system we must ensure they have the capacity to do so and if parents are to understand what is required of them, there must be clear communication.”

“All of these elements need to be up and running next week to ensure the return to school is the success we want it to be.”

“The pressure on TTP system is an ongoing concern and therefore we maintain that classes should be designated as contact groups for testing purposes to bring consistency across all Local Authority areas and relieve the added pressure to trace close contacts, particularly in primary schools which is extremely difficult.”

“Given that staff availability has been a key area of concerns for months, NAHT Cymru believes prioritising the workforce for booster vaccinations was an opportunity missed.”

“It is too early to tell whether the new measures announced will be enough to keep schools open in January but we welcome the reintroduction of staggered session times and the planning days that will help schools manage their local situations.”

“Remote learning will remain a last resort, with staff absence and risk levels being the determining factors, but be assured that school leaders remain committed to doing all they can to support their learners and their families.”

The Welsh Conservative shadow education minister Laura Anne Jones MS said those who are recently retired, or trained as a teacher and moved career, should be asked to consider whether they can find even a day a week for the spring term to help protect face-to-face education.

She said: “Teachers have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic, doing an inspirational job to support their pupils and communities in the face of adversity.”

“However, the disruption to school life and extended periods at home mean pupils’ education has inevitably suffered, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

“With cases of Omicron increasing across the country we must make sure schools and colleges have the teachers available to remain open for face-to-face education.”

“We have to be prepared for the new term ahead, otherwise our children will again feel the brunt. A ‘call to arms’ such as we’ve seen from Nadhim Zahawi and the Conservatives is a great idea and one we should replicate in Wales.”

“I hope the Labour Government gets such a scheme up and running so we can increase support in the classroom and minimise disruption to our children’s education.”

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