Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

Education

GCSE Results Day: Pembrokeshire celebrates success amid challenges

Published

on

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.

Top tips:

• 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.

Education

Primary school children hit all the right notes at popular festival of music

Published

on

MORE than 400 Primary school children took part in the Pembrokeshire Music Service Valero Primary Music Festival last weekend.

Pembrokeshire Music Service welcomed pupils from across the county to share their musical talents with a delighted audience at Ysgol Caer Elen on February 24th.

St Oswalds School pupil Alice Thomas, age eight, was crowned overall winner of the festival following an outstanding performance of Galop by Charles Bohm on her violin.

This year’s event included the addition of a “Come and Play” class, where learners who were at the start of their musical journey could come and share their music with each other.

Philippa Roberts, Head of Pembrokeshire Music Service said: “It was wonderful to listen to the performances of all the young musicians, particularly those who are new to playing. Congratulations to each participant for their commendable efforts.

“The implementation of the New Music Plan for Wales has enabled Pembrokeshire Music Service to offer essential progression opportunities for our pupils which includes our new Second Steps ensemble who delivered an outstanding performance at the spotlight concert. Da iawn pawb!”

The Spotlight concert opened with a bang as 45 players from across the County’s Second Steps ensembles came together for their first public performance. These ensembles, for children in Years Three to Six, only began in September.

Open class winners who performed at the Spotlight Concert included Matthew Picton, of Gelliswick School, who performed Allegro Vivace by Singelee on his Saxophone; Mali Macfarlane, who performed A Whole New World by Alan Menken on the Cornet and Amber O’Connor, Ysgol Eglwyswrw, who performed Concerto by O’Carolan on the Harp.

Griff Nicholas, from Ysgol Casmael, performed She Sells Sanctuary by The Cult on Drums and the ensemble winners were Golden Grove School’s Wolfgang Evans and Betsy Adamiec who performed a piano duet of Faraway by Allan Bullard.

Events coordinator for Pembrokeshire Music Service, Miranda Morgan, added: “We are extremely grateful to Valero, as always, for sponsoring our event. When our last primary festival was held, the current Year Six pupils would have been in Year Two, so this was the first time performing in the festival for every single child present. They should all be very proud of themselves.”

Pembrokeshire Music Service Primary Valero Music Festival 2024 Results

Woodwind

Initial Grade:

1st – Seren Holder, Hafan y Mor

2nd – Eva Frearson, Hafan y Mor

3rd – Eifion James, St Oswalds

HC – Jessica Lynch, Casmael

Grade 1:

1st – Oliver Davis, Johnston

2nd – Annabel Ladd, Croesgoch

3rd – Evie Towe,  St Dogmaels

Grade 2:

1st – Angharad Chinn, MHCPS

2nd – Autumn Shepherd, Coastlands

3rd – Saphire Cook, MHCPS

Open:

1st – Matthew Picton, Gelliswick

2nd – Elin Rodriguez, Hook

3rd – Sasha Aulehla-Atkin, Caer Elen

Brass:

Initial Grade:

1st – Iolo Sims, Caer Elen

2nd – Henry Woods, St Dogmaels

3rd – Polly Summers, YPD & Penny Ibberson-Senior, Roch

Lower Brass Grade 1:

1st – Isaac Phillips, Saundersfoot

2nd – Aria White, Saundersfoot

3rd – Thomas Codd, Glannau Gwaun & Archie Llewellyn, Tenby VC

HC – TJ Stewart, Glannau Gwaun

Trumpet & Cornet Grade 1:

1st – Zoey Pyart, Prendergast

2nd – Isla Griffiths, Saundersfoot

3rd – Ella-Mae Kurby, MHCPS

HC – Freddie Coleman, YPD

Grade 2:

1st – Henry Slade-Davies, Llanychllwydog & Eilidh Frazer, Tenby VC

Open:

1st – Mali Macfarlane, Caer Elen

2nd – Idris Leeming-Hicks, Caer Elen

3rd – Elizabeth Davies, Saundersfoot,

HC – Elin Jones, Bro Ingli

Strings

Initial grade:

1st – Ashley Cristobel, Prendergast

2nd – Efa Britton, Johnston

3rd – Bella Carrier, St Oswalds

Grade 1:

1st – Lily Kingaby, Casmael

2nd – Vivienne King, Hafan y Mor

3rd – Celeste Watts, Roch

HC – Isla Griffiths, Saundersfoot

Grade 2:

1st – Leila Powell

2nd – Genula Wickramaarachichi, Prendergast

3rd – Harrison Shepherd, Caer Elen

Open:

1st – Alice Thomas, St Oswalds

2nd – Nina Powell

3rd – Chloe Jenkins Simms, Hafan y Mor

Piano & Harp

Initial grade:

1st – Gwen Porter

2nd – Mia Rogers, Lamphey & Ffion Fenrich, Cilgerran

3rd – Alice Ng, Caer Elen

 HC – Eva Allen, Lamphey

Grade 1:

1st – Poppy Hammersley, Brynconin

2nd – Jessica Lynch, Casmael

3rd – Annabel Ladd, Croesgoch

HC – Darcy Taylor – Lamphey, George Thomas, Layla McGilloway – Lamphey, Phoebe Ritchie – Caer Elen, Haydn Griffiths – Caer Elen, Noah Worrall, Scarlett Chandra – Caer Elen.

Grade 2:

1st – Eva Evans, Wiston

2nd – Millie Griffiths, Wiston & Cadi Haf Marshall-Jones, Bro Preseli

3rd – Elsbeth Slade-Davies, Llanychllwydog

Open:

1st – Amber O’Connor, Eglwyswru

2nd – Mischa Orford, Tavernspite

3rd – Roberta Gale, YPD

Percussion

Initial Grade:

1st – Maddie Wright, Saundersfoot

2nd – Harri George, Casmael

3rd – Charlie Cheeseman, Saundersfoot

HC – Efan Rees, Casmael & Alfie Hughes, Tenby VC

Open:

1st – Griff Nicholas, Casmael

2nd – Edward Batchelor, Caer Elen

3rd – Max Griffiths, Caer Elen & Alex Youngs, Johnston

HC – Owain James, Casmael & Sasha Aulehla-Atkin, Caer Elen

Ensembles

1st – Golden Grove piano duet (Wolfgang Evans & Betsy Adamiec)

2nd – Bro Preseli Harp Duo (Cadi Haf Marshall-Jones & Elen Davies)

3rd – Piano ensemble (Roberta Gale, Seren Reason & Poppy Burton)

Continue Reading

Education

College lecturer shortlisted for two WorldSkills UK EDI Hero Awards

Published

on

ESTABLISHED in 2020, the WorldSkills UK Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Heroes Awards honour the individuals and organisations that promote and embed innovative practices, projects, and initiatives, making a positive impact on learners, workplaces, and the wider skills system.

With seven categories including: Rising Star, Role Model, Inclusive Skills Development, Skills Competition Diversity Champion, Network of the Year, Skills Competitions Advocate, and Initiative of the Year, Ben Blackledge, CEO for WorldSkills UK commented: “These awards are an amazing opportunity to highlight and celebrate the difference being made by organisations and individuals across the skills sector.

“We are passionate about championing the need for inclusive opportunities that give all young people the chance to succeed in work and life, and that is why we are thrilled to come together in person in a few weeks to celebrate and hear first-hand who the winners are.”

Pembrokeshire College Employability Co-ordinator for the Life Skills Academy, David Jones, has been shortlisted in both the Role Model and Skills Competition Diversity Champion categories for the work he does on a daily basis to encourage and inspire his learners to remove barriers and achieve their full potential.

David will now join the other finalists at an awards ceremony on 7 March at the House of Commons, where the winners will be announced. Charlotte Nichols MP will be presenting the awards and commented: “Congratulations to this year’s WorldSkills UK EDI Heroes Awards finalists!

“I am absolutely delighted to support the awards, and I’m thrilled that the award ceremony will be hosted in-person for the first time at the Houses of Parliament.

“This provides a unique opportunity to celebrate the outstanding finalists and anticipate the announcement of this year’s well-deserving winners.”

The annual EDI Heroes Awards event is dedicated to celebrating the achievements of those going above and beyond to create more inclusive practices. All awards are open to students, apprentices, employers, and employees, recognising individuals and organisations who are making a difference to the future of the industry. 

Continue Reading

Education

Estyn decision to scrap headline gradings has ‘lifted a burden’ on schools

Published

on

Estyn’s decision to remove gradings such as “excellent”, “adequate” or “needs improvement” from inspection reports has lifted a burden on schools, a committee heard.

Owen Evans, Estyn’s chief inspector, told the Senedd’s education committee that feedback from schools since scrapping the headline gradings has been overwhelmingly positive.

Giving evidence on Estyn’s 2022-23 report, Mr. Evans said the new approach has led to a far more professional dialogue with schools about what’s working and what’s not.

“I think that’s been incredibly refreshing,” he said. “There are several layers of pressure that come with an Estyn inspection of a school….

“The removal of summative judgements and the fact that you’re going to be labelled with that one word, has lifted a burden on the sectors that we look at.”

‘Outlier’

However, Mr Evans stressed that removing gradings must be seen as a trial.

He said: “We are a bit of an outlier. We are still the only inspectorate in the British Isles that has removed summative judgements and a lot of eyes are on us about how this is working.”

Mr Evans, who has been in post for two years, added that Estyn is likely to carry out a review to ensure the reforms have led to further improvements.

He said it was important to introduce parental reports given the removal of gradings, suggesting that reports for learners themselves could also be on the horizon.

Asked about Estyn’s funding, which has increased from £11.5m in 2021-22 to £16m currently, Mr Evans told the committee the uplift was due to the pandemic.

‘Backlog’

He told the committee the interruption created a huge backlog and Estyn needed to increase capacity to finish its six-year cycle of inspections by the end of the current academic year.

Mr Evans said 90%-plus of the uplift has gone on additional inspections and inspectors.

Arguing the additional funding should become a part of the inspectorate’s baseline budget, he told MSs that Estyn will start visiting schools twice every six years from September.

He explained that the main inspection has been slightly curtailed, so Estyn can afford to have an interim inspection after three years rather than a “big bang” every six.

“It’s imperative the budget stays at that or slightly higher,” he said. “But we realise there’s a lot of pressure on the system – we have to demonstrate the value of what we’re doing.”

‘Self-evaluation’

Laura Anne Jones, for the Conservatives, raised concerns about an emphasis on self-evaluation, saying: “I don’t think anyone’s going to mark themselves badly.”

Laura Anne Jones MS speaking in the Senedd
South Wales East MS Laura Anne Jones MS is the Conservative shadow education minister

Mr Evans shared the shadow education minister’s concerns as he warned that self-evaluation is not yet strong enough within schools for Estyn to rely on it.

The chief inspector, who was previously S4C’s chief executive and a senior Welsh Government civil servant, warned that the pandemic continues to cast a shadow.

Mr Evans said variability between schools has widened, raising attendance as an example.

“Some are coping and some are not,” he told MSs: “I think the social contract between schools and parents has, to a degree, broken down.”

‘Stubborn’

Claire Morgan, a strategic director at Estyn, said average attendance is 87.5%, meaning pupils are missing 12 days of education in an academic year “which is far too much”.

She called for more to be done to tackle “stubborn” attendance issues, saying successful schools have a strong community focus.

Mr Evans said exclusions are rising while the number of children and young people going into pupil referral units has doubled since the pandemic.  

He said pupil referral units are no longer helping learners return to mainstream education.

He said: “The wave of anecdote I hear – from everyone from headteachers to teachers and caretakers to support staff – is behaviour, particularly out of the classroom, has worsened.”

‘Relentless’

On Wales’ poor performance in the latest Pisa results, Mr Evans said he was disappointed but not shocked as he called for a “relentless” focus on standards.

He said the results reinforce Estyn’s previous annual reports, which have long raised concerns about numeracy, science and literacy.

Mr Evans suggested a focus on the new curriculum has taken away from subject specialism.

Asked about the impact of poverty on attainment, he said the pupil development grant can make a difference but he suggested the funding is being used to plug budget gaps.

The chief inspector also raised concerns about “great deficiencies” in recruiting teachers in terms of the Welsh language and secondary school subjects such as maths.

Continue Reading

Crime15 hours ago

Detectives investigating the death of boy, 15, near Lampeter

Dyfed-Powys Police is investigating the circumstances surrounding the sudden death of a 15-year-old boy at a location near Lampeter on...

Community1 day ago

Oyster restoration project set to enrich the Haven Waterway

AN EXCITING new project is underway to restore the once-abundant population of native oysters within the Milford Haven Waterway and,...

News3 days ago

A48 shut after car hits traffic light pole in early hours accident

IN THE EARLY hours of Thursday morning (Feb 29), a serious road traffic accident prompted police presence on the A48...

Farming3 days ago

Thousands of farmers descend on Cardiff to say: ‘Enough is enough!’

THOUSANDS of farmers and supporters converged outside the Senedd in Cardiff, Wales, to voice their strong opposition to the Welsh...

Business3 days ago

McDonald’s thanks Milford Haven after a busy first day

MC DONALD’S new restaurant in Milford Haven, which opened its doors for the first time today, February 28th, at 11am,...

Farming5 days ago

Police ask farmers not to bring tractors to Cardiff Bay protest

SOUTH WALES police said today that they are aware of a planned protest being held in Cardiff Bay on Wednesday,...

Crime6 days ago

Four-hour standoff ends in arrest after Gould fires ‘BB-gun’ at cops

A TENSE four-hour standoff ensued in Milford Haven, triggered by a 34-year-old man firing a BB gun at officers, Swansea...

Charity6 days ago

Communities in the west are some of the best – according to Ogi

WEST is definitely best, according to Ogi, Wales’s leading alternative broadband provider. Since starting its ambitious full fibre broadband rollout...

Charity6 days ago

Oxfam shop in faces closure over asbestos removal costs

HAVERFORDWEST’S popular Oxfam shop, a feature on the high street since 1987, is threatened with closure due to the prohibitive...

News1 week ago

Pembrokeshire couple win fight to stay in their home of 38 years

A CALL to allow a couple to keep living at a south Pembrokeshire dwelling, put in potential jeopardy as they...

Popular This Week