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Education

Vocational qualifications importance emphasised

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THE IMPORTANCE of vocational qualifications to the Welsh economy was emphasised at the launch of this year’s VQ Awards in Wales at the Senedd in Cardiff.

Speakers called for vocational qualifications to have parity of esteem with academic qualifications and for the Welsh Government to continue prioritising investment in the sector.

Iestyn Davies, chief executive of ColegauCymru/CollegesWales, said Wales was one of the remaining parts of the world where there had been a reluctance to recognise the value of vocational qualifications.

Academic qualifications had hogged the limelight when young people were considering a career path. However, he believed a significant change was underway with politicians now accepting the key importance of vocational qualifications to the economy of Wales.

He called on the people assembled at the launch event to spread the word about the success of vocational qualifications and lifelong learning in Wales to ensure that the Welsh Government continued to prioritise investment in the sector.

Vikki Howells, AM for Cynon Valley, who sponsored the launch event, said during her 16-year teaching career she had wished that there was a greater vocational offer for her students.

There remained a challenge to make young people and their parents, who played a crucial role in directing their children, embrace everything that vocational qualifications had to offer.

She praised the Welsh Government for the work it had already done and continued to do to promote vocational qualifications.

The VQ Awards are jointly organised by the Welsh Government, the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), ColegauCymru/CollegesWales, Qualifications Wales and the Education Workforce Council. The Welsh Government’s funding has support from the European Social Fund.

The Education Workforce Council’s chair Angela Jardine said it was exciting to be a new partner in the high-profile awards which celebrated the success and high standards achieved in vocational education to create the Wales of the future.

By maintaining a Register of Education Practitioners, the council aimed to contribute to improving the standards of teaching and the quality of learning in Wales. The register would provide the professional evidence to achieve parity of esteem between vocational and academic qualifications, she added.

Sarah John, chair of the NTfW, said: “The VQ Awards provide a great opportunity for learners, employers and their trainers to celebrate and publicise the positive impact that vocational qualifications have on the lives of individuals and the productivity of businesses in Wales. Upskilling in the changing vocational skills needed by businesses to be competitive is critical as they continue to evolve.”

Cassy Taylor, Associate Director for Vocational Qualifications with Qualifications Wales, said: “Vocational qualifications are the gateway to a rewarding career and we are delighted to be sponsoring the VQ Awards again this year.

“The awards are a perfect way to showcase the talent of learners and the commitment of tutors and employers to develop the skills in our workforce that are the bedrock of the economy.”

Stacey Davies, Human Resources Manager at Gestamp Tallent Ltd, an automotive manufacturer from Llanelli, spoke about the company winning the VQ Employer of the Year Award last year.

“Winning this prestigious award was an immensely proud moment for the plant,” she said. “To be recognised for the early accomplishments of an ambitious but exciting learning and development strategy continues to be very encouraging for all the stakeholders.”

Vocational qualifications play a key role in the Gestamp Tallent Growth Programme, which aims to upskill the entire workforce by creating tailor-made, individual development plans, revamping an apprenticeship programme and introducing leadership and management solutions and a programme for high potential employees.

The VQ Awards are designed to recognise and celebrate star learners, trainers and employers in every part of Wales who have used technical, practical and vocational qualifications to achieve success.

Nominations are now sought in four categories: VQ Intermediate Learner of the Year, VQ Higher Learner of the Year, VQ Trainer of the Year and VQ Employer of the Year. It’s easy to enter the awards. Just download a nomination form at https://www.vqday.wales which has full details about the awards. The closing date is noon on March 8.

From the entries, a panel of judges will select the category finalists for a high-profile awards ceremony to be held at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff on May 15 to coincide with VQ Day.

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Education

New specialist pre-school to open in county of Pembrokeshire

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says it is pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with Portfield Special School to develop an Early Years Pre-school at Pennar for children with additional learning and complex medical needs between the ages of two and five.

The provision, which will be registered as Portfield Pre-School Pennar, will open in September, and will provide play and childcare opportunities for early years children.

The Council is currently working with parents of children who previously attended SNAP playgroup to communicate these changes. 

Portfield School will manage the playgroup ensuring specialist ALN (additional learning needs) expertise and access to additional professional support is retained. 

“We are very pleased to be able to say that several of the staff from the SNAP specialist playgroup have agreed to work with us in this partnership, so current users of SNAP will see plenty of familiar faces,” said Cllr Guy Woodham, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning.

Damian Hewitt, Headteacher of Portfield, said: “We are delighted to be part of this initiative which will provide a smooth transition into statutory education for our most vulnerable learners whilst providing early intervention and support to assist those where mainstream school may be a more suitable and inclusive option. 

“It is our intention to work with Pembrokeshire County Council to grow the service with Portfield acting as a central support hub as we work with other settings across the County.”

He went on to say: “Portfield is a county-wide resource and our vision is to work with the Council and Early Years settings to develop this model further with other satellite sites opening in the future.”  

Cllr Woodham said the partnership intends to increase the reach and accessibility of specialist support across the county. 

“Having the Early Years relationship with Portfield will give parents the reassurance that their children’s needs will be fully supported either in a specialist environment or with outreach support in their own locality,” he said.

“The opening of the pre-school in Pennar will provide the continuity of setting and staff which is so important for the learners.”

Caption

Pictured is Headteacher of Portfield Damian Hewitt with pupils

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Education

Become a wild world hero with summer reading challenge

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CHILDREN are being encouraged to become a Wild World Hero at their local library this summer.

From Saturday 10th July, children aged 4 to 11, can register to take part in the Reading Agency’s popular annual ‘Summer Reading Challenge’. 

Teaming up with WWF, this year’s theme is Wild World Heroes.  The aim is to inspire children to learn all about the natural environment and discover ways to help save the planet. 

The Challenge reaches over 700,000 children across the UK each year. 

The Reading Agency is aiming to increase its impact even further this year by reaching 1million children with its new English and Welsh language websites providing fun reading activities for all children.

Children can join the fun for free either online or by visiting a library in person.

The Challenge is to read six books over the summer holidays and the children will receive incentives along the way to encourage them to complete the challenge. 

Tanya Steele, CEO, WWF, said: “Young people are the future – and they are some of the most passionate and enthusiastic advocates for our natural world. I’m continuously inspired by our young supporters at WWF and their efforts to speak up for nature, often in wonderful and creative ways.

“We are delighted to be partners of the Summer Reading Challenge in this milestone year for environmental action.

We hope it will encourage more children across the UK to get reading, and to take positive action for the planet – our one shared home.”

Laura Evans, Library Development Officer for Pembrokeshire Libraries, said: “After such a difficult year I am so pleased to be able to offer an opportunity for the children of Pembrokeshire to have some fun over the summer.

“Although we can’t offer activities in our libraries due to ongoing restrictions, we will be giving out activity packs for the children taking part to take home.  Also look out for ideas for things to do during the holidays on the libraries Facebook page”.

Information about this year’s Summer Reading Challenge is available from:

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Education

Haverfordwest High announces their Senior Prefect Team for 2021-22

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Senior Prefect Team with Head Teacher Mrs Harries and the Education Director Mr Richard Downes

HAVERFORDWEST HIGH have this week announced their Senior Prefect Team for the 2021 – 2022 school year.

In order to gain their positions, the students went through a number of interviews, video campaigns and voting processes.

A spokesperson from the school said: “At HHVCS it gives us great pleasure to announce our Senior Prefect Team of 2021-2022 consists of the following remarkable students:

“Head Prefects are Anna Long and Isla Davies

“Deputy Head Prefects are: Caitlyn Aaran, Ioan Jones-Hughes and Will Lewis

“Senior Prefects: Beti Price, Jasmin Tjoonk and Jerin Joy 

“They were joined on Wednesday by Head Teacher Mrs Harries and the Education Director Mr Richard-Downes.

“They are an outstanding team of pupils who have already been hard at work on their first day on the job.

“The pupils went through 4 interviews, a marketing campaign video and a pupil and staff vote to achieve their positions. A huge accolade indeed.”

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