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Education

Sex Education campaigners fail in legal challenge to Welsh Government

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THIS WEEK (Dec 22), the High Court rejected an application to allow parents to withdraw children from the Welsh Government’s Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) curriculum.

The Court considered five claimants’ assertions that the RSE code overrode parents’ right to withdraw children from lessons that include RSE elements. The parents appeared under the campaign group Public Child Protection (Wales).

Each claim failed on each of the four grounds argued before the Court.

Reaching her decision, Mrs Justice Steyn said: “Teaching should be neutral from a religious perspective, but it is not required to be value-neutral.”

She ruled there was no common law right for parents to withdraw children from lessons, as the right to withdraw existed only under the previous statute the Welsh Curriculum replaced.

Campaigners claim they wish to preserve parents’ roles in educating their children about relationships and sexuality. However, the real issue for the campaigners is LGBTQ+ education, the only element of RSE referenced in the headline of a press release issued by PCP after the ruling. The headline repeats an untrue claim about the age at which such education would begin.

Groups with other agendas have latched onto the controversy and published bizarre, obscene, and exaggerated claims about what RSE teaching will contain.

Examining what the Welsh Curriculum’s RSE guidance contains shows those claims are baseless.
Despite malicious and publicity-seeking interventions regarding RSE, some parents undoubtedly feel their sensitivities have been marginalised and disregarded in pursuit of social and political agendas to which they take exception.

Moreover, the case highlighted the Welsh Government’s ability to listen only to views it finds congenial.

Paul Diamond, the standing counsel for the Christian Legal Centre, represented the campaigners.

The Christian Legal Centre’s intervention in high-profile cases involving religion and parental rights has attracted heavy criticism from some judges and lawyers for allegedly preying on vulnerable parents and “casting a fog over the facts and drilling into our deepest and most primal fears” while “pushing their own agendas”.

The misinformation around the Curriculum came in for direct criticism by Council for the Welsh Government, Jonathan Moffett KC.

Taking aim at how campaigners have framed their arguments, Mr Moffett said: “Hyperbolic rhetoric, which has been a feature of the claimants’ case throughout, is unhelpful.”

Mr Moffett said the claimants had failed to identify “what allegedly unlawful teaching” the new Curriculum would adopt and instead “resort to broad assertions”. He continued: “The claimants have not pointed to any passages in the code or the guidance that authorise or positively approve teaching that advocates or promotes any particular identity or sexual lifestyle over another, or that encourage children to self-identify in a particular way.”

Jeremy Miles, Wales’s Minister for Education, said: “I welcome the Court’s decision which found in favour of the Welsh Ministers on all grounds.
“We have been clear that RSE is intended to keep children safe and to promote respect and healthy relationships. Now more than ever, our children need our help in protecting them from harmful content and people online.
“RSE should provide young people with confidence to say no to bullies, to call out harassment, and to understand that families come in all shapes and sizes. Parents can expect the teaching their children receive to be appropriate for their children’s age and maturity: this is a legal requirement.”
Vivienne Laing, from NSPCC Cymru/Wales, said: “We welcome the decision made in the judicial review so that the rollout of mandatory teaching of Relationships and Sexuality Education in Welsh schools can continue.”

Kimberley Isherwood of PCP Wales: Says she will fight on (Image: FIle)

Undaunted by the scale of the campaigners’ defeat, a spokesperson for PCP (Wales), Kim Isherwood, claimed: “The evidence we provided to the Court referenced and highlighted concerning levels of betrayal, deceit and false claims made by the Welsh Government, but it appears as though the Judge agrees with them – not only do we parents not have rights, but they were never there, to begin with.

“The team is preparing the appeal; the higher the Court, the louder the message.

“This is not a loss – this is another level of exposure.”

For the Full response from the Welsh Government: CLICK HERE

The Jeremy Vine show explains why parents in Wales were taking legal action against the Welsh Government:

A video explaining why many were opposed to compulsory RSE lessons in Wales made by The Christian Institute:

Education

Phoebe-Lily shines in Royal Opera House design challenge

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE says it is proud to announce that Phoebe-Lily, a Graphics & Illustration student, has been awarded a ‘Commended’ judgment for her outstanding set design entry to the Royal Opera House Design Challenge. Phoebe’s entry was based on the production of ‘Barber of Seville’ and showcased remarkable creativity and skill.

Phoebe-Lily Williams was among ten Further Education students commended by the judges for their exceptional contributions.

The Royal Opera House Design Challenge provides a platform for young talents across the UK to demonstrate their creative abilities in set design. Phoebe’s commendation reflects her commitment to excellence and innovation in her field.

Upon receiving the commendation, Phoebe expressed her gratitude for the support she received from her tutors at Pembrokeshire College. She remarked, “I was more illustrative, and my tutors were very supportive. I want to go on to study set design and production, so Lou showed me the design challenge and said it would be okay to do that instead of a packaging brief.”

Phoebe chose Pembrokeshire College for its tailored modules that aligned with her career aspirations. She found the course to be conducive to developing the skills necessary for her desired path. “I enjoyed the process as it felt very liberating and positive, knowing that my tutors were encouraging and supportive of my career and study goals,” she added.

The Royal Opera House has invited the twenty winning, highly commended, and commended students, including Phoebe, to attend an awards ceremony on June 4, 2024. This event will provide them with an opportunity to interact with professionals in the field and gain insights into the day-to-day workings of the Royal Opera House.

Additionally, the public will have the chance to view the winning, highly commended, and commended works at an exhibition in the Linbury Foyer at the Royal Opera House from May 27 to June 10, 2024.

Amy McGann, Head of National Schools Programmes at the Royal Opera House, commended the participants for their creativity and expressed excitement about providing professional feedback to students from various educational settings. She stated, “The level of creativity from the young people across the country in this year’s Design Challenge has been high. As well as celebrating the Winners, Highly Commended, and Commended, we are looking forward to delivering professional feedback to students from an ever-widening set of participating educational settings.”

Phoebe-Lily Williams and her fellow commandeers represent the future of set design and production, and their achievements are a testament to their talent and hard work.

To find out more about the creative courses available at the College please visit www.pembrokeshire.ac.uk

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Education

Pembrokeshire schools achieve milestone for careers award

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32 schools in Wales have successfully completed the first stage of the new Careers Wales Quality Award, including Pembrokeshire Learning Centre.

The award supports schools and settings with learners aged 3-16 with the development of purposeful and relevant careers and work-related experiences (CWRE) across the curriculum.

The schools are taking part in the pilot of the new award and are working closely with dedicated curriculum coordinators from Careers Wales to develop a CWRE model that works best for the individual school and its pupils.

This stage forms the first of three stages, each with a different focus. Titled leadership, it forms the basis for the required ongoing development of pupils’ careers learning. 

WALES NEWS SERVICE

Jeremy Miles, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Energy & Welsh Language, said: “Well done to all the schools taking part for their commitment to their pupil’s future career and work-related opportunities.

“It’s so important for children and young people to learn about the different pathways available to them to ease the transition from education to successful employment, and each school’s work-related experiences action plan will support this continuous development.

“We want to do everything we can to help our children and young people achieve their full potential. By developing work related experiences across the curriculum our schools can support their learners to go on to play their full part in our economy and society.”

As part of the leadership stage, the schools have worked closely with Careers Wales to create an action plan, a vision and strategy for CWRE, and have planned for the regular monitoring and review of this activity.

This stage has also seen the school identify the roles needed to facilitate effective development of CWRE and commit to allocate sufficient resources.

Jo Thomas, Teacher in Charge at Pembrokeshire Learning Centre, said: “The award has helped us enormously and has enabled us to develop best practice within the Pembrokeshire Learning Centre. We now have a robust policy in place, with clear aims as to the breadth of Careers Education.

“By doing the Quality Award, we are beginning to embed CWRE into our curriculum in a way that it incorporates all pupils.”

Nikki Lawrence, chief executive at Careers Wales, said: “A huge congratulations to all the schools who have completed the leadership stage of the Careers Wales Quality Award.

“Each school’s commitment to the award illustrates their ongoing dedication to provide their pupils with high quality careers and work-related experiences.

“Quality careers support equips young people with the vital skills, knowledge and resources to succeed, as well as benefitting the local community and economy in Wales with a capable, confident and motivated future workforce.

“We look forward to progressing through the award process alongside the participating schools. Together, we will achieve our shared objective to empower pupils with the ability to make informed decisions about their futures and take steps towards success.”

Following a successful pilot, the award has been designed to be launched nationally across Wales.

For more information on the award, visit the Careers Wales Quality Award pilot webpage.

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Education

Exciting visit to France for Pembrokeshire school pupils

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LAST week, 60 children and 16 teaching staff visited the Bassin d’Arcachon in France as part of a Taith funded project. 

The children, representing Pennar Community School, Neyland Community School, Prendergast Community School, Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi and Haverfordwest High School, engaged in a week of activities with French school children. 

They visited lessons, took part in dancing, art, maths and playground games, all with the aim of developing modern foreign language skills, exploring cultural similarities and differences as well as having an overarching theme of sustainability in schools and caring for the environment. 

The children explored the Dune de Pilat, the largest natural sand dune in Europe, and Biscarosse beach where they undertook beach and environmental studies.

The town of Neyland has had a twinning connection with the town of Sanguinet for more than ten years and this trip allowed these friendships to develop further and pave the way for a return visit by up to 20 French children next year.

The group was hosted by the twinning committee and the mayor at a reception in the town hall where the children had the opportunity to sample local dishes.

The children and staff were excellent ambassadors for their schools and for Pembrokeshire, laying the foundations for future collaborations.

Taith is Wales’ international learning exchange programme, with taith being Welsh for journey.

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