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Education

Council makes first appointment of deaf Teaching Assistant to support deaf student

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WHEN Teaching Assistant Emma Day works 1:1 with pupil Evelyn Smoothy at Ysgol Clydau she knows exactly how it feels to learn as a deaf young person in Pembrokeshire.

Emma, 21, is deaf herself, and her recruitment to the post is believed to be the first appointment of its type in a mainstream school in Wales.

As a former pupil, Emma was known to the teachers of the deaf in Pembrokeshire and encouraged to apply for the position at Ysgol Clydau by the Sensory Support Service.

Emma has previously volunteered in schools in Pembrokeshire and was awarded ‘Student of the Year’ at Pembrokeshire College for 2020-21.  

Emma said: “It’s amazing. I thought as a deaf person it would be really difficult for me to get a job. 

“I can now pass on all my experience as a deaf learner and hope Evelyn will be able to achieve even more than I have in the future.”

Emma accesses her employment through the Access to Work Scheme, a scheme that offers additional support to individuals with disability needs.

British Sign Language interpreters work with Emma to translate spoken language into BSL, and vice versa, to enable Emma to support Evelyn and to access all other aspects of her role within the school. 

Deafness can wrongly be seen as a barrier to employment.  Some employers may struggle to understand how a deaf employee can do their job if they can’t communicate effectively and access information in the workplace.

However, this appointment aims to enhance the working and learning lives of adults and pupils at the school, including of course, Evelyn.

Emma’s appointment marks a change in Wales and will provide just what her pupil needs; a Learning Support Assistant who not only understands how a deaf pupil learns but who is also able to give her access to the curriculum through native BSL. 

Catherine Davies, Specialist Advisory Teacher of the Deaf, said: “Emma as a deaf young lady will provide a positive role model for her pupil and will allow the school to witness inclusion at its best. 

“Who knows, maybe a third language – that of BSL – will find its way onto the curriculum at Ysgol Clydau in the not-so-distant future.”

Annette Thomas, Sensory and EAL Team lead, added: “This is exciting. Emma will be an asset to the school and this is a real step forward in the support of our deaf pupils here in Pembrokeshire.”

Pictured with Emma Day (left) are Suzanne Pearton-Scale, (British Sign Language (BSL) registered interpreter) Catherine Davies, Annette Thomas, Sion Jones (Headteacher) and pupil Evelyn Smoothy.

Education

Industry collaboration will give local stuidents ‘head start’ in clean energy jobs market

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A NEW course preparing students for the future renewables’ jobs market has been launched by Pembrokeshire College. Two global renewable energy companies – EDF Renewables UK and DP Energy – have joined forces with Pembrokeshire College and designed a course to raise awareness, transfer real-world sector knowledge, and inform career journeys for 16-18 year olds.

The 2-year course – Destination Renewables – will educate learners about renewable energy technologies,​ including wave, tidal, onshore wind, solar and offshore wind and associated project development processes. This collaboration with industry will help to bridge the skills gap and showcase the diverse range of careers within the sector, all the while supporting net zero targets and maximising regional benefits.

Pembrokeshire is already a centre for energy, having played host to established technologies such as gas and petrochemicals, and is now providing a home for emerging sectors in renewables. EDF Renewables UK and DP Energy are themselves developing Gwynt Glas, up to 1 GW of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea, off the coast of Pembrokeshire.

Nancy McLean of EDF Renewables UK who is leading the Gwynt Glas project, said: “With an increasing focus on tackling climate change and securing energy supplies, renewable technologies have to be developed and rolled out quickly, and we need to build a skilled workforce to deliver our plans. The partnership with Pembrokeshire College helps us to develop homegrown talent and meets the Welsh Government’s aspirations to develop green skills to achieve net zero. In addition to developing the Gwynt Glas floating offshore wind project, EDF Renewables UK is investing in onshore wind, solar, and battery projects right across Wales, so future career opportunities are plentiful.”

Chris Williams, Head of Development UK and New Markets at DP Energy, said: “There is a wealth of renewables expertise in the County, which is one of the reasons why we recently opened our UK headquarters here in Pembroke Dock. By introducing learners to the many career pathways within renewables we believe we can build the workforce needed to support projects like Gwynt Glas and DP Energy’s wider ambitions in Wales including tidal, onshore wind, solar, batteries and hydrogen. Having this skill base is crucial for Wales to maintain its position as a leader in renewable energy generation and technology development and is knowledge that can be exported across the world.”

Pembrokeshire College is the County’s largest provider of post-16 education and Head of Engineering, Arwyn Williams, said: “The College is delighted to be working so closely with industry to develop the talents needed for future careers in a sector that is so important to all our lives, and one which already has an established home right here in Pembrokeshire. Like our delivery partners – EDF Renewables UK and DP Energy – we are keen to maximise the regional benefits that renewables projects can bring, and we will focus our efforts on developing a skilled local labour force to work across all disciplines.”

Destination Renewables is underpinned by the Skills and Talent programme of the Swansea Bay City Deal, jointly funded by the Welsh and UK Governments, alongside private sector investment. Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum will support the renewables industry in the delivery of this private sector and education partnership to manage high-quality industry content standards and ensure a positive learner journey.

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Education

Finalists revealed in the Professional Teaching Awards Cymru

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THIS WEEK, 29 education professionals from across Wales have been revealed as finalists of the fifth Professional Teaching Awards Cymru.

The awards celebrate inspiring education professionals across Wales. Pupils, colleagues, and parents have nominated the extraordinary education professionals in their lives, and the nominees have now been shortlisted to 29 finalists across ten categories.

The nominees in South West Wales include:

Laura Buffee (Haverfordwest High VC School, Haverfordwest) for the Pupil (or Pupils’) Award for Best Teacher

Iona Llyr (Ysgol Maes y Gwendraeth, Llanelli) for Inspirational Use of the Welsh Language

Pembroke Dock Primary School (Pembroke Dock) for the Betty Campbell MBE award for promoting the contributions and perspectives of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities’ – a new category for this year.

The Pupil (or Pupils’) Award for Best Teacher is given to those nominated by pupils – past or present – who feel they have made a huge difference to their life in school.

The award for ‘Inspirational Use of the Welsh Language’ is for education professionals who have inspired pupils and colleagues to use and enjoy the Welsh language.

‘The Betty Campbell MBE Award’ has been named after Wales’ first black headteacher, and recognises an individual, team or school that has demonstrated an outstanding awareness of the importance of an inclusive education in their classroom.

The new award has been welcomed by Betty’s daughter, Elaine Clarke, who said: “The Award is a wonderful way to promote inclusion of all Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups and we are sure the recipients will continue to be inspired and develop future generations in the footsteps of our mother.”

The Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, said: “The calibre of this year’s nominations has, as ever, been outstanding. They demonstrate the breadth of inspiring education professionals we have here in Wales and it’s important we recognise that.’

“We have so much good work promoting the contributions and perspectives of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities by schools and educators across Wales, and this is recognised by the new Betty Campbell MBE award.’

“I look forward to celebrating these fantastic individuals who go above and beyond for their profession.”

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Education

Pembrokeshire schools celebrate the great outdoors

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THE FIRST Outdoor Celebration Day to be held since 2018 was hosted by Pembrokeshire Outdoor School (PODS) at Scolton Manor on Thursday, May 26.

The PODS partnership, which is co-ordinated by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, is a network of specialist organisations, head teachers and local authority advisors. Its aim is to support schools in encouraging children to become fully engaged with and confident in their local environment.

This year’s Outdoor Celebration Day was attended by 130 students from Croesgoch CP School, Gelliswick Church in Wales VC School, Golden Grove School, Johnston CP School, Lamphey School, Neyland Community School, Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi, St. Oswald’s VA Primary School and St Marks School.

After introductions and a welcome talk by Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools Co-ordinator Bryony Rees, each school was awarded a Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools award by Tegryn Jones, CEO of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, and Chairman of Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools, Graham Peake. This was in recognition of their progress and achievements with outdoor learning over the last few years.

Pupils had the chance to participate in workshops in the woods and on the lawn with PODS, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, the Foundation Phase Team at Pembrokeshire County Council, Darwin Centre, Sport Pembrokeshire and Tir Coed. Activities included mini beast hunts, building with natural materials, fire craft, Tree identification, bush craft and commonwealth activity games.

Bryony Rees said: “The event was enjoyed by all, with one pupil commenting that he had the best day in the ‘nature playground’. Representatives from Sustainable Schools, Keep Wales Tidy (Eco-Schools) and the National Trust were also on hand to connect with teachers, share ideas and discuss how outdoor learning in schools could be developed in line with the National Curriculum for Wales.”

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