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Education

Rise in private tuition as children’s needs not met

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tutoringA GROWING trend is happening in the education of Britain’s children. Many parents, dissatisfied with the provision their children have in state schools are turning to private tutors. The Sutton Trust, an organisation that states its aim is ‘to improve social mobility through education’, commissioned a survey to find out what effects this private tuition is having. They claim that wealthier families gain a substantial advantage from this type of tuition. The study also found that the richest families ‘are more likely to pay for extra lessons than the poorest’. In a MORI survey, it was shown that in 11-16 year olds 27% of the wealthiest pupils had private tutoring, whereas only 15% of poorer families had this help.

Conor Ryan, director of research at the Sutton Trust, said: “While many schools offer a range of sporting and other activities outside regular school hours, there is still a substantial advantage available to those who can afford it. “If we are serious about improving social mobility we must narrow the gap in educational opportunities outside of school as well as within the classroom.” In England the situation is exasperated within local authorities that have grammar schools and Professor Judy Ireson, of the Institute of Education said of the matter: “Parents may see private tutoring as a rational way to help their children perform well in the entrance exams for schools of their choice.

“Yet if our findings reflect a national picture it means that grammar school selection is not a level playing field with some children having a substantial amount of coaching to succeed.” Analysis by the private tutoring website, First Tutors, said that the cost of private tutoring is a fraction of the cost of private education, although the academic results are harder to measure. One local Pembrokeshire parent, who wished to remain anonymous due to what he felt was, an ‘uncooperative’ local school, told The Herald: “I am not rich, I just earn a normal wage, but I am quite happy to invest some of that in my child’s future. “Class sizes are too large and there just aren’t enough one-on-one sessions, particularly in Maths, where my son struggles.”

He went on to explain the relationship he has with the school: “They just won’t work with me and the tutor. We always try and follow what the school are doing – yet they are miles behind what the tutor is doing. “It makes no sense that they don’t want to use this valuable resource to improve my son’s results. It seems like petty resentment. The tutoring is well worth the money.” Shadow Education Minister and AM, Angela Burns, said: “The use of private tutors is growing, exponentially, and is very often because the child’s needs are not being met sufficiently by the education system. “I know of many parents with children who have learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, who pay for their child to receive specialist help in order that the child is then more able to access the National Curriculum during school time.

“These Parents are not wealthy but they are committed to giving their child the best opportunity, and they feel failed by the current system”. The Herald asked the Welsh Labour Government, who are solely responsible for education in Wales, for a response to the issue of private tutoring, who replied, through a spokesperson for the Education Minister, Huw Lewis: “It’s simply wrong to claim that parents in Wales do not feel that their children’s educational needs are being met in the classroom. “This is certainly not the feedback we’ve been getting from parents. Indeed, the recent National Survey for Wales revealed that 92% of parents were satisfied with their children’s primary school while 85% were satisfied with their children’s secondary school. “The Sutton Trust survey seems to indicate that private tuition is being used much more often across the border in England than it is here in Wales. “In London in the last year 24% of those polled said they had received extra coaching, compared to just 5% of Welsh pupils. If Angela Burns takes the view that the use of private tuition is a sign of a failing system then she should be asking her Westminster colleagues some very difficult questions.”

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Education

Redhill pupils praised for helping win another change in animal welfare law

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TOUGHER prison sentences for animal cruelty will come into force this summer after the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill received Royal Assent today. Maximum prison sentences will be extended to five years for the most heinous animal cruelty crimes.

Pupils from Redhill Prep School in Haverfordwest have been praised in Parliament for their tireless work over the last four years in campaigning for stronger laws to protect animals. Under the guidance of teacher Vicky Brown, the young pupils have lobbied their local MP Stephen Crabb, members of the House of Lords and a number of Government ministers to persuade them to support the Finn’s Law campaign. 

‘Finn’s Law’ which came into force in June 2019 and prevents those who attack or injure service animals from claiming self-defence. The law is named after Finn, a police dog who was stabbed whilst pursuing a suspect with his handler PC David Wardell. Finn sustained serious stab wounds to the chest and head, but only criminal damage charges could be brought against his attacker.

This latest change in the law today is known as ‘Finn’s Law Part 2’ and ensures that all animals now benefit from the tougher protection in law.

Stephen Crabb MP said: “Redhill pupils should feel very proud of the work they have done to build support for these changes in the law. Their campaigning work on Finn’s Law Part 1 and 2 received a special mention in the House of Lords when it was being debated. I am aware of just how important their letters were in persuading Government ministers to throw their full weight behind the new law.”

Deputy Head, Vicky Brown said: “We are so proud of all the children have achieved. This project has been so exciting and is one that neither the children or I shall ever forget. We’d like to thank all the people that have supported and encouraged the children in this campaign. They have proved to the children that no matter what your age, you can make a difference.”

The new maximum penalty will enable courts to take a firmer approach to cases such as dog fighting, abuse of puppies and kittens, illegally cropping a dog’s ears and gross neglect of farm animals. As well as a prison sentence, offenders can also receive an unlimited fine.

The measure is also widely supported by animal welfare groups including the RSPCA and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. The Private Members Bill was introduced by Chris Loder MP in February 2020 and with the full support of UK Government has now passed into law.

Photograph shows the online meeting that was held with Stephen Crabb and Redhill School’s year 3 and 4 pupils to talk about their brilliant work in promoting Finn’s Law Part 2.

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Education

New independent sixth form opens in Haverfordwest

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A NEW independent sixth form is set to open in Haverfordwest in September 2021. The latest addition to Castle School, which relocated to Haverfordwest in 2020, the new sixth form will offer 20 different A Level subjects and a BTEC in business through bespoke study programmes that include options to study online or in the sixth form. Students will also get the option to complete work and study placements abroad.

The launch of the sixth form comes after a busy year for Castle School, which relocated from Narberth to Haverfordwest in September 2020, taking over and refurbishing Glenover House, a beautiful old ‘gentlemen’s residence’ that had been empty for five years. The move enabled the school to expand and increase its educational provision.

In addition to its main building, the school has a cookery school and performing arts facility in Snowdrop Lane, and a further site on Snowdrop Lane which is being specially converted to create the sixth form centre. The site will also include an indoor sports facility for whole school use.

The sixth form is designed with flexible study in mind: as well as offering a broad range of subjects and the ability to study online from any location, it will provide instant access study support as well as face to face teaching. In addition, students will get the option to study for one of their A Levels at Pembrokeshire College, in order to experience a different learning environment.

Other milestones for Castle School this year include the opening of a second independent school, Westward House, in St Clears and the purchase of a narrow boat, which will be moored on the Avon and Kennet canal. This will give pupils opportunities for short residential trips to Bristol, Bath and beyond.

“With a floating hotel licence, our newest acquisition will enable small groups of pupils to take their studies further afield and benefit from enhanced learning, extracurricular boating skills and a look at the wider world,” said Harriet Harrison, owner of Castle School and Westward House.

“Things have been tricky over the past year, but along with many others we have seen the difficulties of a world of Covid not as an opportunity for excuses but as a time for stepping up, working harder and making things better and stronger wherever possible. Our schools are thriving, and despite being desperate to get back to normal, we have used this time to improve our facilities for all the children in our care who are coming back after these long periods of lockdown and remote schooling. We can’t wait to see everyone.”

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Education

U-turn on compulsory lifesaving lessons in Welsh secondary education

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SCHOOLS in Wales will now teach first aid and lifesaving skills as part of the new curriculum.

Wales will join England and Scotland by introducing first aid and lifesaving kills to their national secondary education curriculum.

Kirsty Williams, Education Minister had previously rejected the calls for emergency resuscitation skills to be compulsory in school.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was introduced in the secondary school curriculum in England in September 2020.

Local authorities in Scotland have also committed to introduce lifesaving skills to their secondary education curriculum.

The British Heart Foundation had backed the campaign for CPR to be taught in schools.

In a long fought battle, Suzy Davies, a Welsh Conservative Member of the Senedd for South Wales West, secured the commitment from the Welsh Education Minister in the course of debating amendments to the new Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill, which will make sweeping changes to the way Welsh children are educated.

The new curriculum for Wales is planned to come into force from 2022.

Children, parents, families and medics have long argued that regular teaching of CPR in particular will raise our children to have the skills and confidence to step in and save the life of someone in cardiac arrest if they encounter them outside a hospital setting.

The commitment was included in the Welsh Conservative manifesto for the Assembly election in 2016, and Suzy Davies, the Shadow Education Minister, said:

“After 10 years campaigning for this, I was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen.

“From securing cross-party support for this in my early days as an Assembly Member, through several debates and pitches to different Ministers, on to my own proposed legislation which found favour among Senedd Members, it was difficult to understand why Welsh Government was so resistant.

“In this country, our chances of surviving a cardiac arrest outside hospital are as poor as 10%. In countries around the world where teaching CPR and defibrillator use is compulsory, those odds improve dramatically. These skills are quick and easy to learn and easy to remember.

“ Alun Davies MS – himself a cardiac arrest survivor – has rightly argued that we should be able to learn these skills at any time in our lives and that defibrillators should be a commonplace feature of our public landscape. I couldn’t agree more – but how simple it is to ingrain these skills from an early age and raise generation after generation of lifesavers.”

Under the new curriculum, teachers must follow statutory guidance made by Ministers to support various aspects of the new way of teaching. After changes guaranteed by the Education Minister, this guidance will now instruct teachers that they should teach lifesaving skills and first aid: It is no longer optional.

The mandatory teaching of life saving skills and first aid (not just CPR) has been supported by the medical profession, including paramedics and fire service co-responders, as well as charities like St. John’s Cymru, British Heart Foundation, Calon Defibrillators, Cariad and the Red Cross.

It is taught through many youth groups, including Torfaen Sea Cadets who trained Aneurin Metcalfe, the young man who saved someone’s life only this week.

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