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Education

Sex and relationships education ‘inadequate’

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SRE: 'Should be a statutory requirement'

SRE: ‘Should be a statutory requirement’

TEACHERS have reported serious concerns about the reality of school-level commitment to LGBTI equality at the largest gathering of LGBTI teachers, organised by the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK.

86% of teachers at the NASUWT’s LGBT Teachers’ Consultation Conference said they do not think the Government is doing enough to communicate the importance of LGBTI equality to schools and colleges

Only 7% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) teachers say their school or college provides training to staff to identify and deal with incidents of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

56% said their school was not committed to LGBTI equality for staff and pupils.

A real-time electronic poll of members attending the Conference found that:

A third said their school or college was not a safe space for LGBTI teachers;

More than four in ten (43%) say they have experienced some form of discrimination, bullying or harassment because of their LGBTI identity during the last year;

Only 4% said their school has a programme of activities to mark LGBT History Month;

85% do not think schools and colleges are being held to account sufficiently in relation to LGBTI equality.

To support schools in ensuring they are inclusive spaces for all staff and pupils, the NASUWT has today launched new guidance on trans-awareness.

Equality for Trans Teachers is aimed at schools, colleges and employers and sets out the legal responsibilities on employers and also provides advice and guidance on the steps schools should take to support people transitioning in the workplace.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, who addressed the Conference, said: “It is scandalous that in the 21st century teachers are still reporting that homophobia is still an issue for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex pupils and staff and that many LGBTI teachers do not feel safe in their schools .

“Despite assertions to the contrary, the Government has rolled back the progress made over decades on equality and we see the adverse impact this is having on teachers and pupils in our schools.

“All schools must demonstrate a commitment to creating a climate where all staff and pupils feel respected and safe.”

On the other hand, education regarding LGBTI issues for children in Wales’s schools is haphazard and very much left to individual schools to deliver. Parents retain the power to prevent schools from delivering sex education to their own children.

In England, even the more limited Personal and Social Education (PSE) is not compulsory.

The 124 page Donaldson report on Wales’s education system barely mentions either SRE or (PSE), with which the delivery of which SRE is occasionally synonymous. In 124 pages SRE is mentioned not at all, PSE on four occasions in passing and sex education on three occasions.

The Welsh Government, which imposes PSE as a statutory obligation has avoided compulsory SRE in schools.

Cadan ap Tomos, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Cardiff West, has described Welsh Sex and Relationships Education as ‘woefully inadequate’.

Reflecting on his own relatively recent experiences of the Welsh education system, Cadan ap Tomos told the Welsh Liberal Democrat conference that attitudes towards sex and sexuality were still stuck in the past and did not acknowledge the realities of life in a modern nation.

Speaking candidly of his own experiences, Cadan ap Tomos said: “At no point during my education was the message hammered home that being anything but straight was perfectly normal.

“My school’s sex education curriculum barely dealt with the issue of sexuality – a single session on “homophobia” in year 10 was deemed adequate. But by that point, most young people will already be confused and worried about who they are.”

Cadan ap Tomos reflected wider concerns about the paucity of SRE advice given to Welsh students. Saying that the education he received did not deal properly with either the issue of sexual consent or health relationships, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Cardiff West observed: “There’s no wonder that a number of my peers to this day continue to have deeply unpleasant attitudes towards women.

“Every single child in Wales needs good quality, age-appropriate sex and relationships education. The attitude of your parents, or even the sort of school you attend, should not stop you from being given the best opportunity to be comfortable with who you are.”

NUT Wales Policy Officer, Owen Hathway, said: “Sex and Relationships Education should be a statutory requirement for all children, whatever their background. The importance of relationships should be taught at an early enough age to ensure children have respect for their bodies.

“What teachers need is the flexibility in schools to vary what they teach according to the needs of parents and children in their individual school communities.”

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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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