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Education

Unions respond to Estyn announcement

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EstynTHE MINISTER for Education  and Skills, Huw Lewis, is proposing  a change to regulations to allow  Estyn to inspect schools and other  providers at least once every seven  years, instead of once every six years.  The change would take effect from  September 2016 and be reviewed again  after a seven-year period (one cycle of  inspections). The move will introduce  more flexibility into the planning of  inspections and allocation of resources.  Meilyr Rowlands, Chief Inspector,  says: “I welcome the flexibility  the proposal to move to a sevenyear  inspection period gives Estyn.  The extended inspection cycle will  allow us to be more responsive to  implementing any changes that may  result from our recent consultation  on inspections. Early analysis of the  responses show that there is support for  a more proportional approach.

We also  look forward to being fully involved in  shaping the new curriculum.”  Commenting on the Education  Minister’s proposal that the inspection  period for schools should be extended  to seven years to allow Estyn to be  fully involved in developing the new  curriculum, Chris Keates, General  Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest  teachers’ union in Wales, said:  “The NASUWT’s notes the  Minister’s concern for the workload of  the Welsh inspectorate, the workload  of teachers and schools merits equal  concern during this period of radical  change.  “Estyn, along with other  stakeholders in the education system,  has an important role in play in taking  forward the development of the new  curriculum, but it is teachers who  have the experience of delivering a  curriculum and understanding how  children learn and make the best  progress.

“In order for the new curriculum to  be a success, it is teachers who should  be at the heart of its development.  “The NASUWT would welcome  the positive engagement of Estyn with  schools on implementing the new  curriculum. Unfortunately, Estyn’s  approach to inspection has created a  climate of mistrust which needs to be  overcome before Estyn can play an  effective role in curriculum change.  “Education Scotland, Estyn’s  equivalent in Scotland, played a  positive role in supporting schools with  curriculum reform. It was only able to  do so because it had the trust of the  profession.”

Rex Phillips, NASUWT National  Official Wales, said: “The work to  develop and design the new curriculum  is fundamental to the future of the  Welsh education system.  “Those who will be at the heart  of delivering the curriculum must be  at the heart of its development. The  involvement of Estyn, the Consortia  and other stakeholders must be  additional to, not instead of, the direct  involvement of teachers.  “Previously, the Minister said that  the new curriculum should be built by  the profession, for the profession. We  expect him to keep to that pledge.”  Commenting on the Welsh  government announcement on Estyn,  Rob Williams, Director of Policy,  NAHT Cymru, the school leaders’  union for Wales, said: “we welcome  the announcement that the current six  year cycle of school inspections will be  extended to seven.

“This extra year will be crucial to  fully develop the recommendations in  Professor Graham Donaldson’s report.  It will provide the necessary space for  schools across Wales to work in the  most creative ways, and recognises  the need for Estyn to be able to release  pressure upon schools within the  current inspection cycle. This backs up  previous promises made by the Minister  to place trust in the profession in order  to work towards agreed common goals.  School leaders in Wales know that the  new inspection arrangements planned  for 2017 onwards have an opportunity  to play a vital part of the shared goal  of driving up standards in education.  The question of current added pressure  associated with an Estyn inspection has  now happily been addressed.  “NAHT has campaigned for this  extra time, which will help school  leaders to fully bring in the changes,  and will allow the inspectorate to be  fully involved in developing the new  curriculum

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Education

New independent sixth form opens in Haverfordwest

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A NEW independent sixth form is set to open in Haverfordwest in September 2021. The latest addition to Castle School, which relocated to Haverfordwest in 2020, the new sixth form will offer 20 different A Level subjects and a BTEC in business through bespoke study programmes that include options to study online or in the sixth form. Students will also get the option to complete work and study placements abroad.

The launch of the sixth form comes after a busy year for Castle School, which relocated from Narberth to Haverfordwest in September 2020, taking over and refurbishing Glenover House, a beautiful old ‘gentlemen’s residence’ that had been empty for five years. The move enabled the school to expand and increase its educational provision.

In addition to its main building, the school has a cookery school and performing arts facility in Snowdrop Lane, and a further site on Snowdrop Lane which is being specially converted to create the sixth form centre. The site will also include an indoor sports facility for whole school use.

The sixth form is designed with flexible study in mind: as well as offering a broad range of subjects and the ability to study online from any location, it will provide instant access study support as well as face to face teaching. In addition, students will get the option to study for one of their A Levels at Pembrokeshire College, in order to experience a different learning environment.

Other milestones for Castle School this year include the opening of a second independent school, Westward House, in St Clears and the purchase of a narrow boat, which will be moored on the Avon and Kennet canal. This will give pupils opportunities for short residential trips to Bristol, Bath and beyond.

“With a floating hotel licence, our newest acquisition will enable small groups of pupils to take their studies further afield and benefit from enhanced learning, extracurricular boating skills and a look at the wider world,” said Harriet Harrison, owner of Castle School and Westward House.

“Things have been tricky over the past year, but along with many others we have seen the difficulties of a world of Covid not as an opportunity for excuses but as a time for stepping up, working harder and making things better and stronger wherever possible. Our schools are thriving, and despite being desperate to get back to normal, we have used this time to improve our facilities for all the children in our care who are coming back after these long periods of lockdown and remote schooling. We can’t wait to see everyone.”

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Education

U-turn on compulsory lifesaving lessons in Welsh secondary education

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SCHOOLS in Wales will now teach first aid and lifesaving skills as part of the new curriculum.

Wales will join England and Scotland by introducing first aid and lifesaving kills to their national secondary education curriculum.

Kirsty Williams, Education Minister had previously rejected the calls for emergency resuscitation skills to be compulsory in school.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was introduced in the secondary school curriculum in England in September 2020.

Local authorities in Scotland have also committed to introduce lifesaving skills to their secondary education curriculum.

The British Heart Foundation had backed the campaign for CPR to be taught in schools.

In a long fought battle, Suzy Davies, a Welsh Conservative Member of the Senedd for South Wales West, secured the commitment from the Welsh Education Minister in the course of debating amendments to the new Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill, which will make sweeping changes to the way Welsh children are educated.

The new curriculum for Wales is planned to come into force from 2022.

Children, parents, families and medics have long argued that regular teaching of CPR in particular will raise our children to have the skills and confidence to step in and save the life of someone in cardiac arrest if they encounter them outside a hospital setting.

The commitment was included in the Welsh Conservative manifesto for the Assembly election in 2016, and Suzy Davies, the Shadow Education Minister, said:

“After 10 years campaigning for this, I was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen.

“From securing cross-party support for this in my early days as an Assembly Member, through several debates and pitches to different Ministers, on to my own proposed legislation which found favour among Senedd Members, it was difficult to understand why Welsh Government was so resistant.

“In this country, our chances of surviving a cardiac arrest outside hospital are as poor as 10%. In countries around the world where teaching CPR and defibrillator use is compulsory, those odds improve dramatically. These skills are quick and easy to learn and easy to remember.

“ Alun Davies MS – himself a cardiac arrest survivor – has rightly argued that we should be able to learn these skills at any time in our lives and that defibrillators should be a commonplace feature of our public landscape. I couldn’t agree more – but how simple it is to ingrain these skills from an early age and raise generation after generation of lifesavers.”

Under the new curriculum, teachers must follow statutory guidance made by Ministers to support various aspects of the new way of teaching. After changes guaranteed by the Education Minister, this guidance will now instruct teachers that they should teach lifesaving skills and first aid: It is no longer optional.

The mandatory teaching of life saving skills and first aid (not just CPR) has been supported by the medical profession, including paramedics and fire service co-responders, as well as charities like St. John’s Cymru, British Heart Foundation, Calon Defibrillators, Cariad and the Red Cross.

It is taught through many youth groups, including Torfaen Sea Cadets who trained Aneurin Metcalfe, the young man who saved someone’s life only this week.

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Education

Styling their way to the top

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FOUR hairdressing learners: Holly Mathias, Jenna Kilgallon, Helaina Thomas and Leah Rees, recently earned themselves a place in the next stage of the Concept Hair Magazine Learner of the Year Competition.

The candidates were invited into the College to show their fully presented entries as evidence and then submitted them remotely to the Concept Hair Magazine judges in December.

The categories for the competition were: Festival Hair, Red Carpet, Old School Barbershop, Celebration of Colour and Safari.

The unique styles allowed the learners to show off their creative hair styling skills from plaits to updos, to bold colour creations.

Charlotte Jones, Hairdressing lecturer was over the moon with the learners’ success; “We were all so impressed with the creativity, dedication and enthusiasm of all the students who took part in the competition. Also, the students who supported the entries during the day and the models who gave up their time to be involved. They should all be very proud of what they have achieved. The results were amazing!”

The students worked to COVID regulations ensuring all the correct PPE and procedures were followed.

Finalist, Holly Mathias entered three categories which included; Styling Level 2 – Festival Theme, Hair Up Level 2 – Red Carpet and Avant Garde – Safari.

Holly shared her experience; “Taking part in the Concept Hair competition, has really boosted my confidence and proved that hard work really does pay off. The support from the staff at Pembrokeshire College is outstanding. I would recommend everyone to take part in this competition as not only is it an amazing experience, but it really allows you to think outside the box and be as creative as you can! I would 100% take part in this competition again.”

Holly plans to go into full-time employment when she completes her course and hopes to one day work on cruise ships or even own her own salon.

The next stage involves the candidates submitting photographic entries on the 12th March where six will be shortlisted for the national finals which is set to take place virtually in April.

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