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Education

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

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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.

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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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Education

Difference between homeschooling and distance learning

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IN the ever-evolving panorama of schooling,  alternatives to standard classroom settings have gained enormous interest – homeschooling and distance studying. As technology continues to reshape our method of getting to know, it becomes essential to apprehend the nuances that differentiate these academic pathways. This weblog publishes objectives to delve into the differences between homeschooling and distance studying, dropping mild on their precise features, blessings, and potential drawbacks.

Defining Homeschooling and Distance Learning

Homeschooling and distance-gaining knowledge, even though sharing a few commonplace grounds, range basically in their execution. Homeschooling entails the mother and father taking over the role of the primary educators for their youngsters, designing and implementing a personalised curriculum. This approach offers flexibility, catering to character studying patterns and pace.

On the other hand, distance mastering refers to an academic device in which students acquire instruction remotely and regularly through online structures. It can be facilitated via conventional schools or dedicated online establishments, supplying an extra formalised approach than homeschooling.

Flexibility and Customisation

One key differentiator between homeschooling and distance-gaining knowledge is the extent of flexibility and customisation each offers. Homeschooling offers unparalleled flexibility, permitting families to conform the curriculum to fit the child’s wishes, pastimes, and learning fashion. This personalised technique fosters deep expertise in topics and encourages a love for gaining knowledge.

In comparison, distance studying, even as bendy in phrases of the region, may additionally have a more inflexible curriculum set by means of an academic institution. The customisation options are confined to the pre-hooked-up structure, doubtlessly proscribing the adaptability wished for by college students.

Educational Resources and Support

Another crucial issue to consider is the provision of tutorial sources and support in homeschooling and distance learning environments. Homeschooling regularly relies heavily on the creativity and resourcefulness of parents, who can also make use of various materials, online sources, and network activities to complement the mastering revel.

Distance learning, however, tends to provide a greater prepared help system. Students enrolled in distance study applications generally have the right to access a broader range of resources provided by the organisation. However, the extent of individualised attention may additionally vary, with some college students thriving within the independence of distance learning, while others may additionally feel a lack of customised assistance.

Technology Integration and Accessibility

In the digital age, technology plays a pivotal position in both homeschooling and distance studying. Homeschooling families have the power to choose the quantity of technology that is integrated into their curriculum. Some may additionally opt for a more traditional method, whilst others include online structures, instructional apps, and digital assets.

In contrast, distance learning heavily relies on era for content shipping, communication, and assessment. This can be superb, presenting college students with treasured digital literacy abilities and publicity to digital collaboration. However, worries concerning display time and the ability to handle technological issues can also stand up.

Addressing Concerns and Seeking Feedback

Before delving into both homeschooling and distance studying, it’s critical for dads, moms, and students to cope with worries and seek comments from dependable assets. Platforms like Scamfighter offer sincere comments on diverse academic offerings. To read writingpapersucks review, which includes “Is SpeedyPaper reliable”, can provide insights into the studies of others. Additionally, exploring questions like “Is myassignmenthelp.com good?” and perusing paper help reviews can help in making knowledgeable selections. Visit scamfighter for trustworthy feedback.

Addressing Socialisation and Extracurricular Activities

Beyond lecturers, socialisation and extracurricular sports are vital additives of properly-rounded training. Homeschooling can also face scrutiny in this factor, as critics regularly have specific concerns about the capacity lack of social interplay. However, homeschooling households regularly actively interact with community companies, sports activities teams, and cultural businesses to offer adequate possibilities for social development.

Distance getting to know while making an allowance for socialisation through digital ways may also pose demanding situations. The absence of face-to-face interactions can affect a pupil’s ability to develop vital social abilities. Educational institutions presenting distance mastering packages may additionally need to discover innovative methods to foster virtual communities and extracurricular involvement to deal with this problem.

Parental Involvement and Time Commitment

One huge issue influencing the choice between homeschooling and distance learning is the level of parental involvement and time dedication required. Homeschooling demands tremendous funding of time from the mother and father, who act as both educators and facilitators. This dedication may be rewarding but may also pose challenges for families with time constraints.

In assessment, distance mastering often presents a more established method, lowering the direct time commitment from parents. However, parental involvement remains important in tracking development, supplying support, and ensuring a conducive learning environment. Striking a balance between independence and parental steerage is prime for success in a distance getting to know putting.

The Role of Assessments and Grading

Assessment methods and grading structures vary significantly among homeschooling and distance-gaining knowledge. In a homeschooling environment, evaluation techniques can be tailor-made to in shape the character student’s needs, emphasising understanding over standardised trying out. Grading may be more qualitative, focusing on the mastery of concepts rather than comparative performance.

In contrast, distance-gaining knowledge often incorporates standardised assessments and grading structures to measure pupil development uniformly. This method aligns with traditional instructional fashions, offering a clear benchmark for academic achievement. However, it could no longer absolutely capture the depth of knowledge and personal increase emphasised in homeschooling.

Conclusion

Both homeschooling and distance studying present viable alternatives to standard schooling, each with its precise advantages and challenges. The decision between the two should be primarily based on personal preferences, studying patterns, and the level of involvement desired. By expertise the distinctions mentioned in this weblog and looking for dependable comments, parents and college students can make informed selections, ensuring a satisfying and powerful instructional enjoyment.

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Education

Don’t miss out on help with school essentials

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88% of those eligible have claimed their free School Essentials grant to help with costs like school uniform, shoes, bags, sports kit and equipment. Have you claimed yours?

Children of families on lower incomes who receive certain benefits, those seeking asylum and children in care can claim £125 per year to help with school costs. Because of the extra cost families might face when their children start secondary school, £200 is available for eligible pupils going into year 7. It could also mean extra funding for your school.

There’s still time to check eligibility and apply for this year’s funding now before applications close on 31 May.

You can apply every year for each of your children. Pupils from all kinds of education settings are eligible as long as they are aged 5-16. This applies to pupils in all schools and settings, including special schools and pupil referral units.

Headteacher of Ysgol Gymunedol Trimsaran, Steffan Jones, explained how the grant helps pupils at his school: “You want every child to be treated the same, and you want every child to have the same experiences. These grants do help, so that all children can get involved and enjoy their time at school, not just those who can afford it.”

The grant can be used to pay for:

  • school uniform, including coats and shoes.
  • school activities, like learning a musical instrument, sports kit and equipment for after school activities.
  • classroom essentials, like pens, pencils and bags.

Even if your child already receives a Free School Meal, you still need to check eligibility to access the School Essentials Grant and extra funding for your school. To find out more about the Schools Essentials Grant and to check eligibility, visit Get help with school costs | GOV.WALES

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