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Education

‘Pause button’ pressed on new curriculum

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Teaching unions: Welcome change of plans

KIRSTY WILLIAMS has listened to concerns expressed by teaching unions and opposition parties and elected to roll out a new curriculum in a phases, as opposed to one ‘big bang’.

Publishing the revised action plan on Tuesday ​(​Sept 26​)​, The Education Secretary revealed details of a plan that aims to continue to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and public confidence.

Objectives also include introducing a new accountability model and ensuring strong and inclusive schools committed to excellence and well-being.

​PHASED ROLL OUT

The new curriculum will be introduced from nursery to Year 7 in 2022, rolling into Year 8 in 2023, Year 9 in 2024, Year 10 in 2025 and Year 11 in 2026. All schools will have access the final curriculum from 2020, to allow them to move towards full roll-out in 2022.

Kirsty Williams said: “We are entering a fast-changing world that is increasingly competitive, globally connected and technologically advanced. Schools have to prepare our young people for jobs that have not yet been created and challenges that we are yet to encounter. Education has never been more important and, working with the teaching profession, we will continue our national mission to raise standards.

“Our plan is aimed at ensuring every young person in Wales has an equal opportunity to reach the highest standards and their full potential. We can’t achieve those ambitions if we just stand still. Teachers and educators across our system are working together to raise standards and reduce the attainment gap. It is an exciting time to be involved in education in Wales.

“We all share a responsibility to inspire and challenge the next generation. That is why we will support teachers with continuous learning and development, better support and identify our leaders, and reduce class sizes so that we can raise standards for all.”

Commenting on the new curriculum, she added: “Since becoming Education Secretary I have visited schools across the country, spoken to a range of teachers, parents and experts and held talks with unions.

“It’s the right decision to introduce the curriculum as a phased roll-out rather than a ‘big bang’, and for that to start in 2022. This approach, and an extra year, will mean all schools have the time to engage with the development of the curriculum and be full prepared for the changes. As the OECD have recommended, we will continue our drive to create a curriculum for the 21st century.”

​MILLAR AGREES BUT STILL MOANS

In December, Darren Millar AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Secretary, called on the Welsh Government to “push the pause button” on the proposed changes.

Mr Millar has now welcomed the delay, but also predicted “major chaos” if teachers will be expected to teach two separate curriculums at the same time.

He said: “The extra 12 months to prepare for these major changes will be welcomed by schools and I encourage the Welsh Government to use this time to engage with teachers so that they are fully abreast of the transitions afoot.

“My major concern, however, is that under these plans two curriculums will be running side by side for a period of around six years.

“This has the potential to cause major chaos for teachers who are essentially being asked to juggle the demands of two syllabuses, and so Welsh Government will need to explain how it intends to manage this so that learning is not adversely affected.”

​MOVE WELCOMED

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education Llyr Gruffydd said: “Finally, the Cabinet Secretary has accepted what we have been warning for several months – the new National Curriculum should not be rushed through.

“Teachers and experts have expressed their concern that the Welsh Government has continued to attempt too many reforms at the same time without ensuring that the system has the capacity to implement them. It was naïve of the government to think that it can push through reforms to unrealistic timeframes.”

UCAC, the Welsh teachers’ union has welcomed the Plan.

Rebecca Williams, UCAC’s Policy Officer said​:​ “This action plan is a breath of fresh air. It strikes a refreshing balance between ambition and realism, setting out plans for deep and far-reaching reform, but also outlining realistic methods of working and timeframes.

“The plan emphasises progress through co-operation, support and respect for everyone at every level of the education system, in contrast to some of the more threatening methods of the past. This is clearly a joint project, with shared responsibility.

“UCAC very much welcomes the clarity about the introduction of the new curriculum. We believe that the timetable as set out in the action plan will allow sufficient time for design and testing, for training and familiarisation, and for forward-planning of any consequential reforms to qualifications.

“The attitude towards assessment and accountability, with its emphasis on ‘assessment for learning’ rather than artificial comparisons between schools, is another positive step.

“We look forward to being part of the project, as a critical friend, over the next four years and beyond.”

NEU ​PRAISES STATEMENT

The National Education Union Cymru has also praised the statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Education, which it says recognises the concerns raised by the union over the last year.

David Evans, Wales Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “This announcement will be welcomed by the teaching profession and shows that the Cabinet Secretary is listening to the concerns that have been raised and is acting on the best advice and evidence available to her.

“There is a true consensus behind the new curriculum. The sector is on board with the Welsh Government’s vision but we must all make sure we are not risking that good will by rushing its implementation. The new timescales offer a better opportunity to develop the rigour of the system. At the same time changes to the way it will be introduced, moving from a big bang approach to a phased roll out, will make for a much smoother transition process which better supports school staff and pupils.

“The National Education Union have warned that the delivery of the new curriculum was not going to work under the old timeframe and so we are certainly delighted that the Cabinet Secretary has taken our views on board and has set in place a more realistic and promising strategy.”

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Education

RNLI Meet the Lifeguards programme returns to Pembrokeshire schools

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THE RNLI’s beach lifeguards have been visiting schools in Wales to deliver important beach safety information ahead of the summer holidays.

The Meet the Lifeguards programme returned to schools across Wales earlier this spring. The RNLI lifeguards spoke to 26,784 pupils across 172 primary schools and seven secondary schools in the area.

In Ceredigion, RNLI lifeguards spoke to 4,133 pupils across 29 primary schools and 2 secondary schools.

In Pembrokeshire, RNLI lifeguards spoke 8,408 pupils across 48 primary schools and 5 secondary schools.

The RNLI want everyone to enjoy the coast, but to do so safely. RNLI beach lifeguards delivered water and beach safety information to the children, in preparation for the summer holidays.

The presentation includes four main safety points for the children to consider when visiting the coast.

Stop and think

Stay together

Float to Live

Call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard

Anthony Jones RNLI Water Safety Education Manager said: “Our lifeguards thoroughly enjoyed heading back to schools to deliver the Meet the Lifeguard talks. The 45-minute sessions are a great way for the RNLI to deliver our key safety messages to young people ahead of the summer season.

“The children are taught how to safely prepare for a trip to the coast, by encouraging them and their families to always visit a lifeguarded beach. The children are taught where is and isn’t safe to swim and how to identify risks in and around the water. 

“Lifeguards teach the importance of always staying together and never visiting the beach alone. The lifeguards demonstrate how to float to live – what to do if you find yourself in trouble in the water, and to call 999 or 112 in the case of an emergency at the beach.

“These interactive sessions are a great way for children to learn how to stay safe at the beach, to familiarise themselves with the purpose of our flags and to encourage the children to share their knowledge with their friends and families.”

To find your nearest lifeguarded beach visit: Lifeguarded Beaches – Find Your Nearest Lifeguarded Beach (rnli.org)

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Community

Milford Comp fire safety improvements backed

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PLANS to improve fire safety at a Pembrokeshire school have been given the go-ahead by the local authority.

Pembrokeshire County Council had applied for new fire exits, ramp and a footpath at Milford Haven School, Steynton Road, Steynton.

The proposals were supported by Milford Haven Town Council.

An officers’ report for planners stated: “The submitted application seeks planning permission for the installation of 11 new fire exits upon the west and east wing building.  The proposal would also include the provision of a new ramp, footpath and access gates to serve the new exits.

“The plans were amended during the course of the application stage, due to comments received from Building Control under the building regulations application process.  The proposed exist ramps has been made wider to comply with fire safety regulations.  The plans were further amended as the applicant requested that the proposed footpath be made slightly wider.

“The proposed development includes the installation of new fire doors, along with the creation of a path and ramp around one of the existing school buildings at the school campus.  The new fire access arrangements would be located at ground level.

“It is considered that the proposed location and scale of the proposal would not have a negative impact on the character of the site and the surrounding area.  Nor would the proposal have detrimental impact on the surrounding neighbouring properties to the south of the site, due to the existing boundary treatments between the site and the dwelling.”

The application was conditionally approved by Pembrokeshire planners; conditions including the scheme progress within five years and that two bird boxes also be installed as part of the application.

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Education

College embraces SCAFFOLD Tool to lead in green and digital transition

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE says it is proud to announce its partnership with the International Institute for Creative Entrepreneurial Development (IICED) at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) in implementing the SCAFFOLD tool for the first time in the UK. This strategic initiative is designed to enhance the capabilities of curriculum managers, empowering them to integrate innovative educational strategies focused on the green and digital transitions and the Curriculum for Wales, Successful Futures.

“This ground-breaking training session, held at Pembrokeshire College, marks the UK debut of the SCAFFOLD tool, initially developed by the European Training Foundation (ETF) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) with significant contributions from UWTSD’s IICED. The tool, which facilitates the development of transversal competences in learners, is specifically tailored to meet the needs of modern educators and curriculum managers” Hazel Israel, UWTSD.

During the workshop, curriculum managers from various departments at Pembrokeshire College engaged with the SCAFFOLD tool to explore innovative approaches to education that align with the green and digital priorities of today’s educational sector. The tool’s emphasis on entrepreneurial, green and digital competences helps educators design and implement learning activities that are both dynamic and future-oriented.

Jackie Mathias, Assistant Principal, Pembrokeshire College, expressed her enthusiasm about the initiative: “By adopting the SCAFFOLD tool and EntreComp framework here at Pembrokeshire College, we are not just updating our teaching methods; we are leading the way in preparing our educators and students for the significant shifts towards sustainability and digital technology. Our ambition is to be at the forefront of the green and digital transition, and EntreComp and SCAFFOLD are a pivotal part of this journey.”

The collaboration between Pembrokeshire College and UWTSD through IICED exemplifies the potential of partnership in advancing educational practices that support significant societal and technological changes. “This initiative also highlights the adaptability of the SCAFFOLD tool to diverse educational settings, reinforcing its effectiveness across all faculties regardless of subject area.” Hayley Williams, Curriculum Development Manager.

Pembrokeshire College remains committed to integrating cutting-edge tools and methodologies into its curriculum to better prepare students for the challenges of the modern world. The successful implementation of the SCAFFOLD tool sets a new benchmark for educational innovation in Wales and beyond.

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