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Education

Most important education hustings for the teaching profession

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Answering questions on education policies: Andrew RT Davies

THE ASSOCIATION of Teachers and Lecturers Cymru (ATL Cymru), National Union of Teachers Cymru (NUT Cymru) and Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru (UCAC) have joined forces to hold the most important education hustings for the teaching profession in the build up to the Welsh election on May 5.

The event, which will be held at the The Futures Inn hotel in Cardiff Bay, will be chaired by the Western Mail’s Education Correspondent Gareth Evans and will see Huw Lewis AM (Welsh Labour), Andrew RT Davies AM (Welsh Conservatives), Simon Thomas AM (Plaid Cymru) and Aled Roberts AM (Welsh Liberal Democrats) each make their pitch for the electoral support of teachers.

NUT Cymru Secretary, David Evans, said: “We are delighted that the four education spokespeople for the main parties at the Assembly, including the Education Minister, have agreed to be scrutinised on their vision for education in Wales by the very individuals who will be tasked with delivering it.

“I think the willingness of the panellists to take part in this event goes to show the respect they have for the profession. The fact that we have come together as three unions to facilitate this debate on behalf of our members, and indeed members of other unions who will be attending, goes to show the strength of unity there is amongst the profession at the moment.

“It is crucially important that education professionals have confidence in whichever political party is running education in Wales after the election and this is a positive first step to building that relationship.”

Dr. Philip Dixon, Director of ATL, said: ‘This promises to be an exciting evening. We have a stellar line up of politicians – the outgoing minister, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, and shadow ministers from Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems. We will also have an impressive line-up of teachers, heads and support staff who will want to put them through their paces.

“Education is one of the two big spenders of the Welsh Government’s budget. It is right that it becomes the focus of attention in the run up to the election. We will want to hear from the parties about the policies and proposals, and we will want them to hear from us about what has and hasn’t worked, what needs to be done – and what needs to be invested in education to get it done.

“Teachers are used to being at the receiving end of politicians’ strictures. These hustings, filled with representatives from across Wales will help turn the tables and let our would-be-rulers know what we want and expect from them. There will be a clear message that we must put education first if we want Wales to succeed.’

UCAC General Secretary, Elaine Edwards, said: “According to Elaine Edwards, UCAC’s General Secretary, “Education policies have an impact on the job prospects, career opportunities and the quality of life of people of all ages. They can make or break individuals, families and communities. Without the benefit of valuable lifelong learning opportunities people of all ages and backgrounds are denied important choices. This is why this event is so important.”

“As unions we are working together to ensure that education is at the heart of the Welsh Election Agenda.”

“Education is not just about schools, colleges and universities; above all it is about people and society. A thriving education system leads to a thriving economy and a highly skilled workforce in health, public services, business and industry,” she added.

“We hope that people of all backgrounds will join us at this key event about the very future of Wales.”

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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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Education

Education announcement welcomed by Pembrokeshire County Council

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THE LOCAL AUTHORITY has said that it welcomes the Welsh Government’s announcement today (Friday, 29th January) that schools will be the first to reopen when Wales’ current lockdown restrictions are lifted.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced that the ‘alert level four’ restrictions will remain in Wales for three more weeks but following that period, there would be a ‘phased and flexible back-to-school approach if coronavirus cases continue to fall’.

He said primary school children would be the first to return, if the public health situation continues to improve, and that students studying vocational qualifications would also be among those prioritised for the phased return to colleges.

Mr Drakeford said: “We’ve seen a really welcome fall in cases of the virus all over Wales, but they are still too high and the NHS continues to be under intense pressure.

“We need to keep the lockdown restrictions in place for a little while longer to help us bring rates of the virus down further. If we can do this, we will create the headroom we need to get children back to school after half term – starting with the youngest at primary schools.

“We will work with teachers, colleges, local authorities to plan for the safe return of children to school over the next couple of weeks and keep parents updated.”

Pembrokeshire’s Director of Education, Steven Richards-Downes, will be meeting virtually with Welsh Government ministers today together with other Education Directors.

Mr Richards-Downes said: “We welcome the Welsh Government’s statement that schools will be the first to reopen, whenever that may be.

“We will continue to work directly with unions, headteachers, governing bodies and other Council services to ensure that schools are Covid-safe when they are re-opened.

“Distance learning will continue for now and parents should contact their schools directly if they have any queries regarding this.”

He added: “Any parent experiencing difficulties with digital exclusion should contact their school directly.

Free school meals payments will continue to be paid to families who have applied for them, as planned. The next payments will be made on Thursday, 4th February.

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