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Education

Pembrokeshire teacher honoured in prestigious photography exhibition

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A remarkable Pembrokeshire educator, David Jones, from Pembrokeshire College, is set to be celebrated in an upcoming photography exhibition, the Gallery of Greats, that recognises the exceptional contributions made by some of the UK’s most inspiring teachers. Organised by The Teaching Awards Trust in conjunction with renowned photographer and part-time teacher Donna Bridgewater, and Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, this unique exhibition marks the 25th anniversary of The Teaching Awards Trust.

The Gallery of Greats exhibition, a testament to the dedication of educators across the nation, will be held at All is Joy Gallery, 75 Dean Street, London, on November 13, for one day only. This exhibition showcases the inspiring journey of ten educators, including David Jones, who have been shortlisted for the prestigious Gold Award at the Pearson National Teaching Awards, the winners of which will be unveiled at a glittering ceremony on November 25, to be featured on BBC’s The One Show from November 20 to 24.

David Jones, an esteemed teacher at Pembrokeshire College, has been acknowledged for his unwavering commitment to supporting vulnerable learners with diverse needs over the past six years. His profound dedication to empowering every learner, celebrating their unique skills, talents, and diversity, has earned him widespread recognition. With a wealth of experience, David passionately devotes 100 hours of his spare time annually to support and mentor young adults, including those in the justice system, helping them shine in various competitions.

Beyond his professional responsibilities, David initiated a groundbreaking independent living competition that enables learners with complex needs to showcase their talents and gain national recognition for their skills and abilities. His efforts have not only empowered students but have also dismantled barriers, opening new pathways for learning.

“It is so rewarding to see my students succeed and believe there are no barriers to their learning,” David expressed, speaking about his passion for teaching. “I am delighted to be able to spread this message by being nominated for a Gold Pearson National Teaching Award and featured in this photography project.”

The Gallery of Greats portraits capture educators in their natural environments, offering a glimpse into their passion and dedication to shaping the lives of young people. In one of the captivating photographs, David is seen with some of his students, engaged in learning day-to-day tasks outside the classroom while having fun, showcasing his innovative teaching methods and fostering a positive learning environment.

Mary Palmer, CEO of the Teaching Awards Trust, emphasised the importance of recognising the transformative influence educators have on their students. “This exhibition visually showcases the impact teachers have on pupils and the innovation and enthusiasm they bring to the classroom day in and day out,” Palmer stated. “We are delighted to work with Donna and All is Joy to bring the Gallery of Greats to life and provide a reminder to people of the important role teachers play in everyday life.”

Education

Senedd shoots down outdoor education bill

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MEMBERS of the Senedd rejected calls to establish a legal requirement for residential outdoor education opportunities for children and young people in Wales’ schools.

The Senedd narrowly voted against the general principles of the residential outdoor education bill, which was introduced by the Conservatives’ Sam Rowlands.

Mr Rowlands said his bill would remove a postcode lottery in terms of access to residential outdoor education, so no child misses out due to their personal circumstances.

He explained that the bill would create an entitlement for all pupils in maintained schools to experience at least four nights of residential outdoor education free of charge.

The North Wales MS argued the bill would have a long-term net positive economic impact.

He warned: “Outdoor education residentials are valued by children, parents and teachers alike, yet, for those without the means to access them, they are, in fact, unattainable.

“I believe this is fundamentally wrong and this bill sets out to remove those financial barriers to participating in what can be life-changing experiences.”

Mr Rowlands, a former Conwy council leader, said the bill would support the long-term physical and mental health of young people.

Labour’s Buffy Williams outlined the education committee’s stage-one report on the bill, which raised concerns about some children and young people being excluded.

The newly elected committee chair pointed to the example of education other than at school, such as pupil referral units or those who are homeschooled.

Peredur Owen Griffiths, who chairs the finance committee, said the bill would require significant funding against a backdrop of Welsh Government budgetary pressures.

An impact assessment found the bill would cost between £74m and £96m over five years.

Sarah Murphy, the Labour MS for Bridgend, raised the legislation committee’s concerns about the lack of a definition of residential outdoor education in the bill.

Ms Murphy, who was elected chair in a knife-edge 28-29 vote on Tuesday, warned that the bill does not provide an appropriate mechanism for pupils to opt out.

Peter Fox said Monmouthshire council prioritised access to outdoor education while neighbouring councils withdrew support to make efficiency savings.

The former council leader said: “We rationalised our provision and maintained the offer, as we had seen the benefits of children for decades.”

Mr Fox told the chamber it is a sad indictment that the Senedd does not enable backbench legislation to progress, with no opposition bills agreed since 2016.

The Monmouth MS said: “Why don’t we allow these things to progress and see where they go? And if you can’t find a way through that, then things can be stopped in the future.

“Why always stop legislation before it has an opportunity to progress, to breathe and to really show what it has the potential to do?”

Heledd Fychan, Plaid Cymru’s shadow education secretary, backed the bill’s core aim of ensuring equal opportunity for every child.

However, she highlighted the huge pressures already on school staff who often volunteer to help with residential outdoor education.

“They don’t receive any additional payment for this work,” she said. “They do it because they see the benefit for the children and young people in their care when they are in our schools.”

Carolyn Thomas, the Labour MS for North Wales, raised existing school budget pressures, with the bill estimated to cost about £20m a year to cover teachers, lodging and transport.

She said: “At a time when schools are having to face extremely difficult decisions, including redundancies, placing additional pressure on the education budget would be unthinkable.”

Lynne Neagle raised concerns about the capacity of the outdoor education sector to meet the bill’s requirements on the Welsh language and additional learning needs provision.

Wales’ new education secretary warned the bill would require additional changes to terms and conditions of school staff, which could hamper recruitment and retention.

Ms Neagle said education unions and councils have significant concerns about the potential impact on an already stretched financial situation facing schools.

She told the chamber the bill would bind the Welsh Government to expressly fund residential outdoor education over and above any other aspect of Wales’ new curriculum.

The Senedd voted 25-26 against the bill following the debate on April 17, with opposition members outnumbered by the Welsh Government and Labour backbenchers.

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Education

Pupils take centre stage for dance competitions

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MORE than 230 Pembrokeshire pupils have taken part in exciting dance competitions at primary and secondary school levels.

Sport Pembrokeshire hosted the primary school dance competition on March 19th at Fishguard Leisure Centre.

Seven schools from across the county and more than 160 pupils took part, including both boys and girls from school years 3-6.

All style and street dance were the categories that teams, solos and duos could enter. There were 55 solo performers entering the street dance solo category.

Pupils from Ysgol Bro Gwaun performed a group dance and some performed brilliant solos for the primary pupils to watch.

Finola (FF Dancers), Kelly (Kelly Williams School of Dance) and Lowri (Lowri Jones School of Dance) judged the high standard of competitions with dance coaches Lucy Kerrison and Kelci Francis helping out during the day.

They are all thanked for their help and expertise as putting on an event of this nature would not be possible without their valuable input.

Forty eight medals, 22 trophies and numerous certificates were presented, including awards for stand-out performers.

The atmosphere was great and it was brilliant to see the pupils taking part, getting creative and showcasing their skills, all with a smile on their faces.

The secondary schools dance competition was hosted on Thursday, 29th February at Haverfordwest Leisure Centre.

In total 77 girls from school years 7-11 competed in various categories such as teams, duos and solos. These included street, all style, freestyle, jazz and cheer.

Finola and Kelly judged the day with the help from Lucy and Kelci. Kelci, a former Ysgol Harri Tudur pupil, also gave showstopping performances.

It was a great day with a fantastic atmosphere and very rewarding to see so many girls taking part in sport and enjoying every minute.

Some of the schools who attended are now through to the UDOIT Dance Competition in Cardiff.

Hundreds of pupils have enjoyed school dance competitions over recent weeks.

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Education

Second Pembrokeshire Chess Tournament celebrates youth and skill

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THE SECOND Pembrokeshire Chess Tournament drew participants from 21 schools across the region, culminating in a day of intense competition and camaraderie.

The tournament, reported by Vicky Brown, saw young chess enthusiasts gather for a day marked by strategic gameplay and exceptional talent. Henry Burton from Redhill emerged victorious, claiming the top spot in a closely contested field. The duo of Steffan Hughes and Huw Holliday, also from Redhill, followed closely in second place, while Osian Griffiths (Ysgol Caer Elen), Bryn Williams (Milford Haven Community School), and Iolo Hughes (Redhill) shared the third place, showcasing the depth of talent present among the participants.

In recognition of outstanding sportsmanship, Carys Callan from Redhill was honoured with the ‘David Pinch Award’, embodying the spirit of fair play and respect that marked the tournament. A special mention was given to Tyler Davison-Hall from Johnston CP School for participating in the Game of the Tournament, further highlighting the event’s competitive yet friendly atmosphere.

The tournament benefitted significantly from the expertise of Ian Eustis from the Welsh Chess Union, who served as Arbiter, ensuring the smooth running of the games. The event was also supported by Martin Jones and Scott Hammett, who took on the roles of stewards, and the Friends of Redhill (FOR), who managed the refreshments, contributing to the day’s success.

The local chess community, including participants and spectators, expressed their appreciation for the organisational efforts that made the event possible. For those interested in furthering their chess skills, the Pembrokeshire Chess Club extends an invitation to meet on Tuesday evenings in Steynton. Martin Jones, contactable at 07884384131, is available for further details regarding membership and participation.

Looking ahead, Redhill is poised to host its next chess tournament on Saturday, 8th June, promising another opportunity for young chess players to demonstrate their skills and passion for the game. The success of this event not only highlights the thriving chess scene in Pembrokeshire but also sets the stage for future tournaments that continue to inspire and engage the youth in the noble game of chess.

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