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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

Crymych Panthers hold Boccia competition

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CRYMYCH Panthers Boccia Club recently held their first in-house Boccia competition, with eight members competing in two categories: BC1&2 (participants with a physical impairment) and BC8 (participants with an intellectual impairment).

Games were played in a round robin style competition. The final of the BC1&2 between Racheal Bailey and James Pugh was a very close game with James winning by 3 points to 1. The BC 8 final was between Yvonne Berry and Dewi Evans. Dewi won by 10 points to nil, back on form as a former Welsh international Special Olympic team member.

The competition was sponsored by Andrew Scott Davies of Pembroke who took part in the 2021 CARTEN 100 bike to assist the club.

Andrew Scott Davies presenting the winners and runners up with their trophies. All participants received a certificate of attendance.

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Education

Top of the stops: Llangwm lollipop lady wins national award

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LLANGWM school crossing patrol officer Lisa Brock has won a Road Safety Wales award for 25 years of dedication to helping children cross the road to the village primary school.
To celebrate her achievement, a giant walk to school event took place this week with hundreds of pupils and parents taking part – much to Mrs Brock’s surprise!
The walk was followed by the presentation of a plaque in assembly, where Cleddau Reach VC headteacher Rhys Buckley thanked her for ‘keeping children safe and making a difference to their day with a smile and a kind word’.
“Lisa is someone who does her job because she cares,” said Mr Buckley. “She cares about the children, their families and her community deeply and you only need to look at the work produced by our pupils in tribute to her to see that this level of care and affection is very much reciprocated.
“Every community needs a ‘Mrs Brock’ and we’re very grateful that she’s ours!”

Mrs Brock receiving her award from Helen Luff from the Council’s Road Safety Team, with pupils Lottie, Leo, Tilly, and Mrs Brock’s grandsons Jacob and Oliver. Jacob and Oliver said they were very proud of their grannie. Also pictured are (left to right) Headteacher Rhys Buckley, Ziggy the Zebra – Pembrokeshire’s road safety mascot – and Chair of Governors Barry Childs.


Some of the tributes by the children included:
‘Mrs Brock is always smiling and happy even in the wind, rain, hail and even heat. You are the reasons we are not flat pancakes on the road. Thank you, Mrs Brock.’

‘We all love Mrs Brock. She is the best lollipop lady in the world!’
‘I will never forget when my sister dropped all of her things in the middle of the road and you stopped the cars from coming. Thank you for always being there.’

Mrs Brock started as school crossing patrol officer as her two boys were nearing the end of their primary education. She has since become a huge fixture at the school, also taking on roles as a higher level teaching assistant in the junior classes and lunchtime supervisor.

“It is the children that give me the most pleasure,” she said. “They are all so polite and keen to have a chat with me. It’s not just the current pupils either; past pupils and many of the local families all come and say hello to me too when they see me on the crossing.”
Chairman of Governors Barry Childs said Mrs Brock’s relationship with the children was ‘outstanding’.

“Every child past and present speaks of her with tremendous affection,” he said. “She has time and a smile for everyone. She is credit to the school.”

Kirstie Donoghue, Road Safety Officer for Pembrokeshire County Council, describes her as ‘one of the many unsung heroes guiding Pembrokeshire’s children safely across our roads”.
“Lisa has been a devoted school crossing patrol for 25 years,” she said.
“She is reliable, hard-working and a true asset of our team, and we are hugely appreciative of her commitment over the years.
“We are delighted and proud that Lisa has won this award for her service and contribution to road safety in Pembrokeshire.”

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Education

Funding for music education trebled to the tune of £13.5m

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Every child will have the opportunity to benefit from music education as part of the Welsh Government’s plans for a national music service, which will help ensure no child misses out due to a lack of means.

As the National Plan for Music Education is published, the Minister for Education has confirmed funding will be trebled, with £13.5m being invested over the next three years.

The plan will make access to music education fairer and more consistent across Wales, with a particular focus on learners from low-income households and those with Additional Learning Needs. Support will be available for children and young people to access and progress with music tuition, with learners from disadvantaged and under-represented groups supported to join music ensembles.

The plan includes a number of key work programmes such as:

A review on music tutors’ terms and conditions, to ensure they are treated equitably and are recognised properly.
A ‘First Experiences’ programme to offer children in primary schools a minimum of half a term of musical instrument taster sessions, delivered by trained and skilled music practitioners.
A ‘Making Music with Others’ initiative, including opportunities for children and young people in secondary schools to gain industry experience through working alongside musicians and creative industries
A new national instrument and equipment library to support access to a resource bank to be shared across Wales.
These programmes will be rolled out from September 2022, supporting schools and settings to give all children and young people from the ages of 3 to 16 the opportunity to learn to play an instrument as well as singing and making music in our schools and our communities.

The National Music Service will operate as a ‘hub’, with the Welsh Local Government Association co-ordinating the Music Service’s programmes with a wide range of organisations. It will help schools and settings in their delivery of the Curriculum for Wales and provide more diverse opportunities for children and young people to experience music outside schools and settings.

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford and the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea to see a cluster of primary school children taking part in a ‘Play Along’ session led by Swansea Music Service.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“The establishment of a National Music Service for Wales is an important commitment in our Programme for Government and I’m delighted that we are delivering on this pledge.

“Learning an instrument was a formative part of my upbringing and a lack of money should not be a barrier to any young person who wants to learn to play music. We are fortunate in Wales to have a strong tradition of school, county and national ensembles, and we want to make sure that our children and young people are able to play a full part in these. This funding will support music services in schools and within the community to help nurture our young musical talent.”

The Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said:

“Our vision is for all children and young people across Wales, regardless of background, to have the chance to learn to play an instrument. The plan we are publishing today, backed by funding, will help deliver that vision.

“For too long, the chance to learn an instrument and develop musical skills has been for those few whose families and carers who can afford tuition. I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to access music tuition, and that’s why we’re making this significant investment to deliver a range of activities for our children and young people to learn and experience the joy of music.

“The development of the National Music Service will ensure that we nurture our next generation and continue to produce new talent and showcase Wales to the world.”

WLGA Chief Executive Chris Llewelyn said:

“We are proud to work with the Welsh Government on delivering this vital service to children across Wales. Many families in Wales can’t afford an instrument, and this funding will go a long way to opening doors to children across Wales to have the opportunity of learning an instrument.

“Playing an instrument and reading music is a very important skill for a child, and music brings enormous joy to children. Local authorities believe that children across Wales will have better access to instruments, and this plan will develop many future talented musicians, and support pupils to develop their musical skills.”

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