Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

Education

Apprenticeship cuts threaten healthcare sector’s future in Wales

Published

on

SEVERE cuts to the apprenticeship programme in Wales will have dire consequences for patient and residential care, the Welsh Government has been warned.

Proposed Welsh Government cuts to apprenticeship budget, together with the loss of European funding, could result in nearly a quarter (24%) of the programme in 2024-’25 being slashed, it is claimed by training and healthcare providers and educational institutions across Wales.

The National Training Federation for Wales (NTFW) and CollegesWales have already warned about the catastrophic and irreversible impact these cuts would have on the apprenticeships in Wales. They estimate that the number of apprenticeship new starts in 2024-‘25 will be halved to 10,000.

Recent figures lay bare the potential impact on the healthcare sector in Wales, which is facing a 69% reduction in apprenticeship opportunities at a time when the workforce challenges have never been greater.

This is because most learners who start an apprenticeship in healthcare are over the age of 25 years and Welsh Government funding will be prioritised for younger learners.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has stated: “There will be an alignment between the way we spend our apprenticeship money and our young person’s guarantee to make sure that young people needing that start in their careers continue to receive it here in Wales.”

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething, who is responsible for the apprenticeship budget, has echoed that by stating “They [apprenticeships] will still continue to support our young person’s guarantee, helping young people at the start of their careers, and businesses will still be able to recruit apprentices to find opportunities to develop their own staff.”

Recent analysis by the NTFW has identified that, if the Welsh Government does prioritise young people under the age of 25, there may be no new apprenticeship opportunities for those aged 25 and above in 2024-‘25.

The NTFW, which represents work-based learning providers across Wales, says this will have a serious impact on every sector of the Welsh economy, with healthcare and public services facing the most severe consequences.

It’s estimated that there will be 5,500 fewer apprentices in this Welsh Government priority sector, which includes health and social care, clinical healthcare, dental nursing and children’s care and learning and development.

The NTFW says it’s ironic that Health and Social Services, which has been prioritised in the draft budget through an additional investment of £929m, is the very sector which is going to be most adversely affected by the £38m cut in the apprenticeship budget.

Drilling down further, the NTFW says health and social care will see the biggest reduction in opportunities, with more than 3,000 fewer apprentices in 2024-‘25. This comes at a time when the social care workforce is already in crisis, according to NHS leaders in Wales.

Lisa Mytton: The NTFW’s strategic director – “engage in a constructive dialogue”.

A survey in 2022 by the NHS Confederation, a national membership body representing all organisations that make up the NHS in Wales, found that all health service bosses agreed there is a crisis in the social care workforce.

The NHS Confederation claims the social care crisis is impacting every single part of the NHS, from ambulance services and emergency departments to elective care, diagnostics, GPs, mental health services and community care.

This was echoed by a recent inquiry by the Senedd’s Health and Social Care Committee that concluded: “The social care workforce crisis and lack of social care service capacity continues to be one of the main causes of delayed hospital discharge.”

Lisa Mytton, NTFW strategic director, said: “The NTFW urges the Welsh Government to reconsider the proposed cuts to apprenticeships and engage in a constructive dialogue to find a viable solution that supports both the healthcare sector and the wider economy of Wales.”

Healthcare and training providers across Wales are also calling for an urgent review of the decision, emphasising the need for sustainable funding to safeguard the future of healthcare services.

Innovate Trust, a charity that supports adults with learning disabilities to live independently within the community, has expressed its concerns.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, job vacancies have risen to an unprecedented level,” said a spokesman. “Qualification funding is crucial for us as a charity organisation to ensure that our employees are fully qualified and registered with Social Care Wales.

“Any cuts to funding would have a detrimental impact on our work. Innovate Trust heavily relies on support and funding to provide Health and Social Care qualifications to maintain the skills of its workforce.”

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

Education

Castle School closure certain now rescue plan has failed

Published

on

PARENTS have been informed that the highly regarded Castle School, a beacon of independent education since its establishment in 2009 in Cresselly, is on the verge of closing down, with no rescue plan in sight.

The institution, which began with a mere 22 secondary-aged pupils, saw significant growth over the years, relocating to Narberth in 2015 and later to Haverfordwest. The school, known for its broad curriculum catering to pupils from the age of three to 18, prides itself on an ‘exceptionally high academic performance’, boasting an average of 95 per cent A*-C grades at GCSE.

Despite its academic success, the school announced earlier this month that it would be shutting its doors to the majority of its pupils come July, though it will remain operational for current GCSE and A Level students until their examinations are completed the following year.

Harriet Harrison, the headteacher and proprietor, expressed that the decision to close was made with a ‘heavy heart’ and after considerable deliberation. The news has left many parents in a scramble to secure alternative educational arrangements for their children.

A glimmer of hope appeared when Dr Mark Boulcott, a local dentist and retired army officer with a daughter at the school, presented a rescue plan. “I am doing what I can as quickly as I can. I am doing my very best to stop the closure of a great school,” Dr Boulcott stated, signalling his commitment to prevent the closure.

The school was envisioned to transition into a charitable organisation, with Dr Boulcott collaborating with Mrs Harrison until the end of this academic year before assuming full leadership in July. Unfortunately, this plan has been rendered unviable, with Dr Boulcott disclosing that from a business standpoint, the school’s recovery from the Covid crisis was insurmountable under the current conditions, making the prospect of taking over ‘untenable’.

In an earnest letter to the parents, which was obtained by The Pembrokeshire Herald, Dr Boulcott lamented that the challenges of establishing the school elsewhere were too great, necessitating a considerable investment and an estimated two years to navigate bureaucratic hurdles.

“It is with regret that without immediate extensive capital investment, something we do not have, school purchase resurrection or reorganisation is impossible,” Dr Boulcott concluded in his correspondence with the parents, effectively extinguishing the last embers of hope for the school’s survival.

As the community grapples with the impending loss of Castle School, the situation underscores the continuing pressures faced by independent educational institutions in the post-pandemic landscape.

Continue Reading

Education

Childcare students beat to the rhythm in inspirational drumming workshop

Published

on

PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE’S Childcare students recently had the enriching opportunity to participate in a captivating drumming workshop led by Lox, where they not only delved into the vibrant rhythms of African drums but also gained insights into Lox’s philanthropic endeavours through his charity, Love Your Neighbour.

The workshop offered an immersive experience into Lox’s upbringing in Kenya, where drums were not just instruments but integral components of culture and community. Through engaging discussions, Lox shared his journey and shed light on the impactful work his charity undertakes, particularly in supporting social and educational projects in Kilfi, Kenya.

Lauren Owen, a Childcare lecturer at Pembrokeshire College, expressed her enthusiasm about the session, stating, “During our session with Lox, we were able to learn about the importance of music in our lives and the significance of offering musical opportunities to children. We discussed the role of music in self-expression, celebration, and community cohesion.”

Students echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the value of incorporating music into children’s developmental activities. One student remarked, “The session gave us so much to think about – valuing music as a key developmental tool for children, as well as considering the wider impact music can have on us all. A big thank you to Lox.”

The workshop not only provided an avenue for cultural exchange but also equipped students with practical insights into incorporating music into their childcare practices. They learned key musical rhythms and explored ways to integrate music for children’s holistic development, fostering creativity, expression, and social interaction.

Moreover, discussions on the barriers to education faced by young people in Kenya offered a broader perspective on global challenges and the role of education in fostering positive change.

To find out more about the Childcare courses offered at the College, please visit: www.pembrokeshire.ac.uk

Continue Reading

Farming1 day ago

Farmers protest as Drakeford arrives to open engineering centre

PROTESTS erupted as First Minister Mark Drakeford arrived at Coleg Llandrillo, Rhyl, to inaugurate a new engineering centre. Approximately 200...

News2 days ago

Pembrokeshire man’s tragic end following partner’s death

A MAN from Pembrokeshire took his own life three weeks after the passing of his partner, an inquest was informed...

News2 days ago

Pembrokeshire council tax rise ‘could lead to failed budget’

A PROPOSED 16.3 per cent council tax increase in Pembrokeshire could see the council failing to set a budget for...

Community2 days ago

Heavy rain leads to flood alerts and closed roads in Pembrokeshire

FOLLOWING a night of heavy rain, Natural Resources Wales has issued a series of flood alerts for multiple areas across...

Crime2 days ago

20-year-old accused of making indecent images of children

A HAVERFORDWEST man has appeared before a district judge charged with making 74 indecent category A images of a child....

News2 days ago

Calls for sea defences for flood-hit village turned down

A COUNCILLOR’S call to be able to speak on a potentially much-cheaper alternative to a bypass for the flood-hit village...

News3 days ago

Independent Group opposed to ‘unprecedented’ Council Tax hike

CABINET proposals recommending a significant increase in Council Tax rates by 16.31% for the fiscal year 2024/25 AND the following...

News4 days ago

Milford Haven mourns loss of former top-cop

MILFORD HAVEN is morning the loss of a great man, following the passing of retired local policeman Detective Inspector Billy...

Health5 days ago

Significant disruption expected during second junior doctors strike, says WG

URGENT and life-threatening care will continue to be provided during second junior doctors strike in Wales this week, but significant...

Business6 days ago

‘We want to work’: Tata Steel workers protest over proposed cuts

HUNDREDS of people have taken part demonstrations against the anticipated elimination of numerous positions within the steel sector. Tata Steel...

Popular This Week