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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

Exam success celebrated with Learning Pembrokeshire

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ADULT learners celebrated their exam success with Learning Pembrokeshire at its annual awards ceremony recently.

The event, organised by members of the Learning Pembrokeshire Adult Community Learning team was kindly hosted by Pembrokeshire College, co-members of the adult learning partnership.

Learners who attended had gained accreditation in Digital Skills, Maths, English and English as a Speaker of Other Language. Hardworking tutors from the Essential Skills, ESOL and Springboard teams were very happy to take the opportunity to present certificates to their hardworking learners and celebrate their progress on their lifelong learning journey.

As well as staff and learners, the event was attended by Stephen Richards-Downes, Director of Education and Erica Williams from the Strategic Migration Partnership at the Welsh Local Government Association. Master of Ceremonies for the morning was Tomos Hopkins from Welsh for Adults and their Welsh choir was kind enough to add their voice to the event.

The range of qualifications attained included Agored Cymru Units and Awards, Essential Skills Wales Level 1 and level 2, BCS ICDL, GCSE and Life in the UK.

Special mention was given to the achievements of young people from Futureworks’ programmes around the county.

A warm welcome extended to our newest cohort of ESOL learners from Afghanistan, who are just beginning their learning journey with Learning Pembrokeshire.

A range of work created by learners in other non-accredited classes such as Sewing, Stained Glass, and Art was also displayed.

If you are interested in finding out more about free Essential Skills and ESOL classes, please call the Freephone 0808 100 3302.

To find out more about the wide range other classes including GCSE, Health and Well-being classes, Languages and General Interest contact your local Community Learning Centre, visit the Learning Pembrokeshire page on the Council’s website or Facebook. Or you can call Central Services on 01437 770130.

Captions: Learners are presented with their awards by Learning Pembrokeshire

The annual awards ceremony was held for adult learners at Pembrokeshire College

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Education

Primary schools enjoy a taste of opera at three special performances

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PEMBROKESHIRE MUSIC SERVICE brought the ABC of Opera to Haverfordwest for school children to enjoy a special live performance recently.

ABC of Opera, founded by renowned opera singer Mark Llewelyn Evans, performed The Crazy Classicals and the Curse at three shows on 9th and 10th July.

Almost 1,000 primary school pupils delighted in the fusion of pantomime and opera where the evil Queen of the Night, escaping from Mozart’s Opera the Magic Flute, tries to banish music for ever. Featuring a host of classical composers and Trevor the Trunk, they work together with the children to stop her.

The cast comprised of seven professional opera singers, with the orchestra being made up of staff from Pembrokeshire Music Service, senior pupils from County music ensembles and invited guests.

Head of Pembrokeshire Music Service Philippa Roberts: “Pembrokeshire Music Service is delighted to partner with ABC Opera to bring an exceptional live music experience to our students, giving pupils a fantastic introduction to Opera in a fun and engaging environment.

“This initiative, made possible thanks to the generous support of the National Music Service Wales, saw our staff and pupils performing side by side in the orchestra along with professional vocalists.”

ABC of Opera aims to deliver invaluable life lessons to children and young people through a lively exploration of the lives and music of the great composers, building character, celebrating difference and encouraging creativity. “Any Body Can with ABC.”

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Education

Ysgol Harri Tudur bans mobile phones starting September 2024

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STARTING September 2024, pupils at Ysgol Harri Tudur in Pembroke will no longer be allowed to bring mobile phones to school. This decision follows a consultation with parents, guardians, and carers that concluded on July 1.

The consultation process began on June 26, when the school sent out a letter to parents and carers, inviting their opinions on the matter. The letter highlighted growing concerns about the negative impact of mobile phones on students’ education, safeguarding, mental health, and well-being. It noted, “There is increasing evidence of the negative impact that mobile phones have at school on learners’ education, safeguarding, mental health, and well-being. Covid has certainly made the situation worse, with the reduction in face-to-face relationships.”

Previously, the school operated an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ policy, requiring students to turn off their phones and leave them in their bags. However, enforcing this policy proved to be challenging. The letter explained, “Alerts from social media platforms, emails, texts, and calls during the school day create an environment which is very difficult for learners to resist checking and responding to. Mobile phones allow learners to play music, games, and take photographs and video clips. The latter places learners at risk of cyber bullying.”

The issue sparked a lively debate on a local Facebook group. Some contributors raised concerns about students with medical conditions who need their phones for glucose monitoring, medicine reminders, or well-being journals. One user pointed out, “It’s difficult for people with a medical condition, who need to have their phone with them.”

On the other hand, many welcomed the ban, hoping it would reduce dependency on devices, decrease cyber-bullying, lessen peer pressure to own the latest models, and encourage students to engage more with each other. One parent commented, “Plenty of other schools already implement this policy – and it works.”

Another parent emphasised the importance of allowing pupils who are being bullied in other ways to contact home.

Ysgol Bro Gwaun in Fishguard has already implemented similar policies with reported success. Haverfordwest High is also considering a mobile-free approach.

Additionally, Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi in St David’s, Pembrokeshire, has seen significant improvements since implementing a similar policy. Pupils now hand in their phones at the start of the school day, which has led to better attendance, behaviour, and learning. The school’s police liaison officer reported a 75% reduction in phone-related issues, and both exclusions and bullying incidents have decreased dramatically.

For emergencies, the Pembroke school advises parents to contact Reception or email [email protected]. If learners need to contact home urgently, they are encouraged to speak to their Pastoral Leader or any senior member of staff.

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