STUDENTS across Pembrokeshire joined thousands throughout Wales today, celebrating the release of their GCSE, Welsh Baccalaureate, and vocational qualification results.
Formal GCSE exams were held this year, integrating various support mechanisms in response to the challenges imposed by the pandemic. These measures included providing advance information on exam content and adopting a supportive grading approach.
During his visit to Ysgol Morgan Llwyd in Wrexham, The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, expressed his admiration for the resilience and determination of the students. He said, “It’s inspiring to see what our learners have achieved. These learners have faced immense challenges impacting their learning opportunities as they’ve navigated through their secondary schooling and onto their GCSEs.”
He also took the opportunity to remind students who may feel disappointed with their results that there are numerous avenues open for their next steps, whether it’s A-levels, vocational training, apprenticeships or seeking advice from their schools.
Echoing these sentiments, Thomas Baden Tudor, Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council, expressed his admiration for Pembrokeshire’s students. In a heartfelt message from County Hall in Haverfordwest, he said, “Congratulations to all the students receiving their GCSE results today. Your outstanding efforts during these challenging times are commendable. Also, my heartfelt thanks go out to all the educators and staff who’ve guided these students on their journey.”
To help students with choices, Dr Nick Smith, Principal at Oxford Home Schooling, highlighted the various pathways available to students who might not have achieved their anticipated grades. He emphasised the plethora of opportunities available – from contacting course representatives at colleges to considering apprenticeships, work experiences, or even a gap year.
For those pondering over the next step in their academic journey, Dr Smith pointed out, “When it comes to A-levels, there are a myriad of subjects to choose from, and it’s even possible to pursue them independently from the comfort of your home.”
Commenting on the news that GCSE grades in Wales are down on last year, Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Minister Laura Anne Jones MS said: “Congratulations to students receiving GCSE results today and the teachers and support staff who have worked exceedingly hard and faced severe disruption over the last couple of years. I would like to wish everyone the best of luck with whatever they choose to do next. There are an abundance of options available to you, including A-levels and apprenticeships.
“As was the case with A-levels, results are down on last year. It is also concerning that exam entries are down this year, particularly with Mathematics (down 0.3%), Mathematics-Numeracy, (down 8.3%) English Literature (down 29.1%) and ICT (down 15.5%). The drop in exam entries is particularly significant amongst children from a disadvantaged background, Labour need to explain how they will tackle the drop in exam entries of such important subjects, and ensure our children aren’t left behind.
“Ultimately, there is more to education than just exam results and Wales deserves better, Labour are failing our children with their underfunding and continue to cut the education budget. This has placed our schooling system bottom of the UK league table, with Wales continuing to take a different approach to our counterparts in England. With 25% of students missing 15 days or more of education, the Labour Government must get their act together and do better in providing top tier education in every school in Wales.”
As Pembrokeshire joins the rest of the nation in celebrating the hard work and tenacity of its young minds, the collective sentiment remains one of hope, resilience, and optimism for the future. The journey to today might have been paved with unique challenges, but it has only made the success stories all the more inspiring.
RESULTS DAY LIVE: Advice from international education specialist
This year has undoubtedly been challenging for everyone sitting their examinations, particularly after the last few years of disruptions caused from both the pandemic and industrial action. Many are saying it is too soon for exams to return to pre-covid levels with some students still recovering the learning they lost during the COVID-19 period. While pupils have been warned that their grades may not be as high as previous years, it’s hugely important for them to remember that they still managed to make it to this point! Sitting exams is no mean feat, and for many they are never a pleasant experience, but they still showed up and sat them regardless.
This year’s students have withstood one of the most chaotic educational periods in history. That accomplishment alone is remarkable, and the fact that they’re moving forward with their lives with exam results in hand, is something to celebrate.
I know that exam results may feel like the be all and end all right now, but for anyone who may be disappointed or disheartened by their results, here are my five top tips on how to deal with how you’re feeling and what positive steps you can now take.
• Don’t panic: If your results aren’t quite what you were hoping for, you are going to be upset, so don’t fight it; let yourself be upset for a little bit, and then start to think practically about your next steps and remind yourself what you’re working towards. Your results are likely to have been impacted by a number of things outside of your control, and you’re comparing them to the results of recent years which were marked using an entirely different system. You’ll never have a mark against your name because you’ve failed. You can still do well and succeed, even with having to re-sit a module or an exam.
• Talk about it: Make sure you talk through how you’re feeling with your loved ones so they can support you. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to your teachers if your results aren’t what you were hoping for. They know how to navigate this situation and will have seen their pupils in this position many times. Discuss with them what your options are going forward and ask their opinion on where they believe your strengths lie, and how you can improve your results if you re-sit a module or exam.
• Ask for support: Beyond your teachers, consider reaching out to career advisors or pastoral support staff at your school. If you need additional help, especially for re-sits, seek assistance from tutors or other educators. Additionally, don’t hesitate to contact professionals in your desired industry to gain insights about their career paths and advice on how to succeed in your journey.
• Consider a plan B: Exam grades do not define success; there are many other ways to achieve your goals and aspirations. Remember that ‘clearing’ doesn’t have to be a negative thing– it can be your best friend if your results weren’t what you hoped for! Also keep in mind that while GCSEs may be a good route for those looking to go on to A Levels, they may not carry quite as much weight for students whose ambitions lie elsewhere. Students who are working towards skilled, hands-on or vocational careers may find more benefit in qualifications such as BTECs and apprenticeships.
• Evaluate your strengths and interests: Take some time to assess your strengths and to understand what truly motivates and interests you. If your exam results don’t match your aspirations, there may be other education or career opportunities that better utilize your skills and meet your interests. More than anything, don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone’s educational journey is different.
Unveiling Caitlin Flood-Molyneux: Master of paint and mixed media
CAITLIN FLOOD-MOLYNEUX, a visionary contemporary Welsh artist and former Pembrokeshire College student, has emerged as a beacon of artistic expression with her unique fusion of paint and mixed media collage. Her distinctive artistic journey has led her through various educational and creative landscapes, culminating in a body of work that navigates the intricacies of emotion, memory, and hardship through the lens of pop culture imagery.
Caitlin’s artistic flare began at Pembrokeshire College, where she embarked on the Graphic Design Diploma before challenging herself further with the Foundation Diploma where she discovered the potential of her own practice before setting her sights on a deeper exploration of Art and Design at Cardiff Metropolitan University. It was during her university years that her horizons expanded exponentially, as she spent a year in Norway as part of her coursework.
Central to Caitlin’s artistic practice is her exploration of the connection between pop culture imagery and the intricate tapestry of human emotion and memory. Drawing inspiration from the revolutionary styles of DADA and early Pop Art, Caitlin found imagery with abstract painterly forms, crafting a distinctive visual language that captures the essence of her narrative. Historical imagery, an integral element of her work, serves as a vessel for the memories she aims to convey. Her artistic expression strikes a harmonious balance between deeply personal experiences and universal themes, inviting viewers to embark on a personal voyage of connection and reflection.
Caitlin Flood-Molyneux’s exceptional talent has developed to international recognition. Her work has graced platforms such as a gallery in New York and the distinguished Saatchi Art Fair and Christie’s Auction House in London, where her pieces were showcased alongside renowned figures like Banksy and Andy Warhol. Caitlin’s collaboration with artist Lynette Reed during her residency in Italy stands as a testament to her collaborative spirit.
One of the most significant intersections of her journey was her meeting with Lynette Reed at a London art show. This connection sowed the seeds of creativity and collaboration, and they are now working on a show together.
Reflecting on her artistic evolution, Caitlin fondly recalls her time at College as the turning point in her artistic passion. “My best years were spent at College as that’s where I found my love for art and pursuing a dream career. College felt like a family, and the lecturers were so supportive, I could not recommend them enough.” she shares.
Cath Brooks, Curriculum Area Manager at Pembrokeshire College said: “Caitlin is a beautiful, generous, creative soul, we are very proud to observe and celebrate her phenomenal artistic achievements so far. Caitlin always possessed a determination and persistence to explore, investigate and inform herself through creative practice. Caitlin honed a very open attitude to grab opportunity and establish a strong positive work ethic, a true role model for anyone.”
Caitlin Flood-Molyneux’s artistic voyage continues to captivate and inspire, inviting audiences to explore the intersection of art, emotion, and memory. As her work resonates with both personal and universal narratives, she cements her place as a luminary in the contemporary art world.
For more information, about the creative courses offered at Pembrokeshire College please visit: www.pembrokeshire.ac.uk
Follow Caitlin Flood-Molyneux’s artistic journey @floodmolyneuxart
People encouraged to help shape the future of educational resources in Wales
PEOPLE from across Wales are being urged to have their say and help shape the commissioning of the nation’s educational resources.
Earlier this year the Welsh Government established Adnodd, a new body to co-ordinate and oversee the provision and commissioning of bilingual education resources to support the Curriculum for Wales and its qualifications.
Adnodd’s vision is for learners and practitioners to have access to relevant, high quality and innovative resources, in Welsh and English, which enrich learning and teaching and help every learner succeed.
Historically, education resources have been available from a vast array of organisations and companies, but up until now this provision has not been co-ordinated. There has also been no fairness in the provision and availability of both Welsh and English with difficultly to ensure the quality of these resources.
As part of establishing its commissioning process Adnodd is calling on a wide range of people from practitioners and learners, through to parents, carers and those working in the industry to share their thoughts and help shape the future work of the body through completing a short online survey.
Speaking of the importance of people engaging with the survey, Interim Chair of Adnodd, Owain Gethin Davies said, “We are currently gathering the views of those with an interest in our work through online surveys.
“Whether you are a practitioner in Wales, a parent or carer, a creative content company or an organisation that produces educational resources, we value your thoughts and now is your chance to have your say and influence our future work and help improve our children’s education.”
Parents, carers and learners who complete the online surveys will be entered into a prize draw for a £100 book token, redeemable at a range of retailers and independent bookshops across Wales. Meanwhile, teaching practitioners will also be entered into a prize draw to win a £100 book token for use in connection with their teaching work.
A link to the online surveys can be found here: https://educationwales.blog.gov.wales/2023/07/19/complete-the-adnodd-survey-and-help-shape-the-future-of-educational-resources-in-wales/
Pembrokeshire parents reassured amid concerns about school concrete
AS more than 100 schools in England grapple with the closure of classrooms or the introduction of safety measures due to concerns over the structural integrity of their buildings, Pembrokeshire council has extended reassurances to parents.
This crisis stems from the discovery of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in several key facilities, prompting concerns over potential structural hazards. Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest made headlines recently when it declared a “major incident” after RAAC was discovered on its premises. A “limited part” of Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth was also found to have RAAC.
In a related development, the UK Government took action last week, instructing many schools and colleges near the border to either fully or partially close their buildings due to the presence of concrete that could pose sudden collapse risks. RAAC, a building material in use from the 1950s to the mid-1990s, came under scrutiny following the collapse of a concrete beam over the summer, prompting this drastic response.
The issue of infrastructure falls under devolved powers, and the Welsh Government has announced its intention to assess the extent of the problem within the country.
Pembrokeshire County Council has offered a glimmer of hope for parents, confirming that all schools in the region will open as scheduled after the summer holidays. They stated that “no specific issues” have been identified in the authority’s buildings.
A council spokesperson addressed the situation, saying, “Parents and guardians will be aware of media reports in England regarding concerns about Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete in schools. Pembrokeshire County Council can confirm that at this time there are no specific issues highlighted across the council’s buildings. All schools will re-open as planned after the summer holidays, and staff are looking forward to welcoming pupils back. The authority will continue working closely with the Welsh Government on this matter.”
In contrast to England’s response, the Welsh Government has opted for a different approach since the 1960s, focusing on a comprehensive school and further education building program aimed at mitigating the risks associated with aging structures.
A Welsh Government spokesperson elaborated, “Earlier this year, we commissioned a condition survey of all state-funded schools and colleges, which will identify any structures suspected of containing Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete.
Local authorities and further education institutions have not reported to us any instances of RAAC being present within schools or colleges. We will continue to work closely with the WLGA (Welsh Local Government Association) and local authorities on this issue and will provide an update once the survey has been completed.”
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