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Education

Local unis provide detail on the clearing process

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screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-10-43-04AS THE UNIVERSITY of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) braces itself for a busy period of applications, it has offered advice to students who may find themselves in the Clearing process after getting their results on Thursday (Aug 18). 

Melanie Jones, Executive Schools and Colleges Marketing Officer at UWTSD, said: “Students should get some advice from their tutors about the options available to them and look up the institutions with vacancies in their chosen subject. They can do this via the UCAS website, the media or individual institution websites. Students can also talk to Clearing line advisors to find a course that’s suitable for them.

“Using the unique Clearing number (located on the welcome and choices pages of the UCAS Track website) and personal ID number, students can contact each institution directly, where trained staff will be on hand to advise them about any vacancies that may be available on each specific programme. In some cases, they are able to make an offer straight away.

“One of the best ways to find out about an institution is to visit its campus. Many places will hold a Clearing Open Day, which offers a great opportunity to judge if the course and the place are the right choice.

“Once a student has made a choice and accepted a provisional offer, the next step is to apply electronically through the UCAS Track system at www.ucas.com and confirmation of their place should come directly from the institution shortly after.”

Amy Parker, who secured her university place at UWTSD through Clearing and has graduated with a BA in Religious Studies from Lampeter, said: “My A Level results didn’t go my way. My Head of Sixth Form and I rang UWTSD and they confirmed they had a place for me. I burst out crying with tears of relief and happiness and so did my dad. Not getting the results you wanted or expected is not the end of the world and everything happens for a reason. I have enjoyed the best three years of my life.”

A list of course vacancies at UWTSD can be found at www.uwtsd. ac.uk/clearing and potential students who would like to discuss the options available to them can speak to the UWTSD admissions team on 0300 323 1828.

In addition, Clearing Open Days will be held at each of the university’s campuses in Swansea, Carmarthen and Lampeter on Saturday (Aug 20). University and academic staff will be on hand during the day to answer any questions about UWTSD courses or about applying.

Attending an open day gives you and your family the opportunity to ask questions and to ensure that you are making the right decision.

FROM HIGHER EDUCATION TO HIRED 

92% of UWTSD’s undergraduates were in employment and/or further study six months after graduating – source: DLHE 2014/15. Recent graduates are now employed at businesses including Jaguar Land Rover, Fujitsu, Sky News, Morganstone, Virgin Media, Welsh Water, Hewlett Packard and the British Army.

UWTSD takes an applied, employment-focused approach, which includes practical work experience, opportunities for work placements, innovative student-led approaches to learning and cutting edge ‘masterclasses’ delivered by leading professionals and academics. All of the university’s courses are designed to instil in graduates the attributes desired by employers, e.g. innovation, creativity, an enterprising mindset and responsiveness to unexpected events or tasks.

Fritha Costain, who graduated from Lampeter with a BA in Archaeology, is now General Manager for National Trust Scotland. She said: “Going to Lampeter was an amazing experience. Studying archaeology was fabulous and it provided the foundation of my interest in heritage today. The small size of the university meant that I had opportunities to do as much as I wanted to – I trained as a DJ and was vice-chair of RAG – roles that I would never have been brave enough to take on in a bigger university. Most of all though, I had lots of fun and met some wonderful people.”

Stefanie Turner, is a Master of Arts Creative Writing graduate from UWTSD’s Lampeter campus, who will be teaching English as a Foreign Language in South Korea. She said: “I will be moving to South Korea in August to start teaching there. Studying at UWTSD has taught me that I’m capable of anything, so I’m going to do just that.”

Lowri Bevan has graduated with a First Class Honours degree from the BA New Media Production course at UWTSD Carmarthen. Lowri will be setting up her own business, Digi Designs, which will be a creative marketing and advertising agency focusing on native and artistic advertising for businesses and sectors across Wales. Lowri said: “Completing the entrepreneurship module made me realise I am now capable of building my very own business and it has opened my eyes to the amount of support Wales has to offer for young aspiring entrepreneurs like myself.”

Reham Ismail Saeed Al-Shaibani graduated with a first class BSc (Hons) in Business Information Technology. She said: “My course was totally employment focused. The lecturers gave me the help and advice I needed throughout.”

Mother and daughter Gwenllian Davies and Ann Davies graduated with a BA Early Childhood degree in Carmarthen and have since set up their own nursery. Gwenllian said: “Running my own nursery has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl and Cwtsh y Clos Nursery is a dream come true. The course at UWTSD is offered through the medium of Welsh which was brilliant.”

ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY 

Last year, around 64,000 individuals across the UK found their place in university through the Clearing process – with Aberystwyth University taking more than 1,000 calls from students looking for guidance.

Aberystwyth University’s Schools and Colleges Liaison Manager, David Moyle, says there is no longer a stigma attached to seeking a place at university through Clearing.

“We appreciate that applying to university through Clearing can be a stressful time for some students, but the Clearing team at Aberystwyth University are here to make the process as easy possible by offering applicants a step by step guide to ensure they find the right course,” said Mr Moyle, who has been holding a series of training sessions for staff in the lead-up to August 18.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to provide advice and guidance to students. On A Level results day, we’re in by 7 o’clock in the morning and although it’s a busy day for all involved, there’s a great atmosphere amongst the whole team. We’re all there for one purpose: to ensure students get the best advice to make an informed decision. It can be an emotional day but it’s a brilliant feeling to hear the delight in a student’s voice when we are able to offer them a place to study with us.

“There are a lot of people involved in the university’s Clearing operation to ensure we offer the best service to applicants and all of the necessary logistics are in in place. We’re now looking forward to receiving calls from students interested in applying to courses at Aberystwyth University, which has just been ranked one of the ten best higher education institutes in the UK and the best in Wales for student satisfaction.”

As well as receiving calls on a special 0800 hotline, staff at Aberystwyth University can also be contacted via email, Facebook, Twitter and live web chat.

With a process such as Clearing it’s important to act fast. Hundreds of students will be in a position where they wish to apply for a course immediately following their results, and places are often limited and can fill up fast.

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Education

Becoming a teacher

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Thinking of teaching: Do your research

TO TEACH in a Welsh state school, you must have a degree, and gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) by following a programme of Initial Teacher Training (ITT).

All teachers in Wales are also required to register with the Education Workforce Council (EWC).

In Wales, most training programmes are university or college-based, and you have a choice of programmes delivered in English or Welsh. QTS awarded by the Education Workforce Council in Wales is automatically recognised in England.

UCAS Teacher Training is the scheme to use to apply for the main postgraduate routes leading to QTS. If you don’t already hold a degree, you can apply via UCAS Undergraduate for teacher training programmes, to graduate with QTS.

Some more specialised teaching routes – including the Welsh Graduate Teacher Programme and Teach First – are not managed by UCAS and have a different application process. These training options offer different routes to gain QTS, depending on your professional or academic background.

Postgraduate training

University-led PGCE or PGDE

Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) training programmes are available for prospective primary and secondary school teachers. You’ll get classroom experience by spending time teaching and being trained in at least two schools, as well as time at the university or college you’ve chosen, working with a group of other students and being taught by university staff.

Typically a one year programme, students must complete a minimum of 120 days in a school, among blocks of study at their chosen training provider. Spaces on popular teacher training programmes fill up quickly. Places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, so apply early.

Graduate Teacher Programme

For prospective primary and secondary teachers wishing to study for their Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in Wales, the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) is an employment-based route into teaching which offers a way to qualify as a teacher while you work. Programmes typically last for one year and require students to pass a newly qualified teaching year.

The GTP is very similar to School Direct (salaried) programmes in England, but is managed and delivered by the three regional teacher training centres in Wales:

  • North and Mid Wales Centre for Teacher Education
  • South West Wales Centre of Teacher Education
  • South East Wales Centre for Teacher Education

There are a limited number of primary and secondary places available on the GTP in Wales each year. Applications are made directly to the regional teacher training centres. For more information, see Discover Teaching in Wales.

Teach First: Leadership Development Programme

This option combines leadership development and teacher training, giving applicants the chance to become an inspirational leader in classrooms that need it the most. It is a two year salaried programme leading to a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) qualification. Following five weeks of intensive training, you’ll continue to learn on the job while you work towards QTS.

Undergraduate training

Bachelor of Education (BEd) degrees

Bachelor of Education (BEd) teacher training programmes are an undergraduate route for those who would like to follow a career in teaching, and graduate with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). BEd programmes typically last three years, and are a popular route for prospective primary school teachers. Some providers do offer secondary-level BEd programmes for specific specialisms.

Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BSc) with QTS

Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) degrees with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) are popular with prospective secondary school teachers, and focus on developing specialist subject knowledge required to teach. Not a common route for those wanting to study for primary teacher training programmes, most providers only offer BA and BSc with QTS for secondary teaching.

Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE): Introduction to Secondary Teaching

This Wales-only training route is for prospective secondary teachers who may not have any formal academic qualifications, but do have a passion for maths, science, or design technology. This route gives you the chance to earn the credits needed to meet the entry requirements for BSc (Hons) degree programmes, enabling you to work towards QTS in three years.

Funding

Full-time undergraduate and postgraduate Initial ITE courses attract funding in the same way as other undergraduate degree programmes.

This means full-time students will be able to apply for student finance for fees and living costs in the same way as undergraduates on any other higher-education course.

In addition, the Welsh Government offers incentives for top graduates to train to teach in designated subjects, particularly sciences, modern languages, Welsh, and ICT.

Eligible students who are ordinarily resident in Wales and started full-time postgraduate ITE courses in the current academic year could also get a Fee Grant of up to £4,954.

Grants are also available, depending on the subject studied, for eligible ITE students undertaking full-time, pre-service PGCE PCET/FE courses.

Student teachers starting postgraduate secondary ITE courses and training through the medium of Welsh may be able to get the Welsh Medium Improvement Scheme grant. This is aimed at student teachers who need extra support to raise confidence in their ability to teach effectively in Welsh.

Student teachers on some employment-based teacher education courses will be paid a salary by their school. This will be at least equal to the minimum point on the unqualified teacher pay scale, but their school may choose to pay more.

Information on employment-based routes in Wales can be found under the ‘Employment-based routes’ section of the Teacher Education and Training in Wales website at http://bit.ly/1fFu5Ap

Students can also attend School-centred Initial Teacher Training courses in England if they have been designated to receive funding by the Welsh Government.

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Education

Education attainment gap widens

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Poverty: Still affecting children's opportunities

THESE days a huge amount depends on how well a young person does at school in year 11.

Whether they can go on to study A levels or even do an apprenticeship often depends on getting the golden ticket of 5 A*-C GCSEs. Yet the latest 2016/17 GCSE Examination results show that a huge proportion of our young people are not getting to this level, with those who are eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) doing much worse.

GCSE results

The cohort sitting their GCSE exams last year were the first to take the new versions of GCSE Maths and English. The overall proportions of year 11’s achieving 5 A*-C GCSEs including maths and English/Welsh first language have dropped from 60.3% in 2015/16 to 54.6% in 2016/17. There is also a dramatic drop in students achieving any 5 GCSEs A*-C, from 84% to 67%.

Free School Meals

Many more young people who are eligible for FSM are leaving school without the qualifications they need. The proportion of year 11’s that were eligible for FSM who achieved 5 A*-C GCSEs including maths and English/Welsh language dropped by 7 percentage points since 2015/16, and more worryingly have dropped by 30.3 percentage points for any 5 A*-C GCSEs, compared to 5.8 and 15.4 percentage points for those who were not eligible.

The attainment gap between students eligible for FSM and those not eligible for FSM is nothing new in Wales. There have been numerous statements and educational strategies centred around closing this gap and increasing the achievements of students eligible for FSM. However, as the data shows – the gap between those eligible for FSM and those who are not has increased.

Last year the gap between the two was 32.4 percentage points for 5 A*-C GCSEs including maths and English/Welsh language, compared to 31.2 in 2015/16, and 32.3 percentage points for any 5 A*-C GCSEs, compared to 17.4 the year before.

Reasons for the changes

Maybe students had not adjusted well to the changes to GCSE exams last year; early entry into exams might also have played a role. The Welsh Government advises that comparisons to previous years should not be made due to several changes to performance measures data. However, do these changes explain why the drop in achievement between last year and the year before is larger for those eligible for FSM and why the attainment gap is still not shrinking?

Effect it could have on young people

Many opportunities for young people are reliant on them achieving 5 A*-C GCSEs. Taking A-levels and most further education courses and even some apprenticeships require young people to have those crucial GCSEs. So, what about young people who leave school without those qualifications, which this year has increased?

We are working on a project looking at this, asking that exact question. We know that opportunities are limited and that the lack of them can seriously impact a young person’s life. The lack of good opportunities can increase their chances of earning low wages and in turn, increasing their chances of living in poverty.

The Bevan Foundation’s project is currently ongoing with findings due out early next Spring. To find out more on the better opportunities for young people project, please go to http://bit.ly/2CerDNH

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Education

Awards evening celebrates success

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Award winners: Freya and Stephen (inset)

JUST before Christmas, the educational achievements of Coleg Sir Gâr’s A-level and access students were celebrated with an awards evening.

The Principal’s Award for Academic Excellence was this year awarded to Stephen Hughes who is studying geography at Churchill College, Cambridge.

Stephen studied four A-levels and was part of ACE, the college’s more able and talented programme.

Whilst at college, Stephen also won one of three environmental awards by the Morgan Parry Foundation.

Vanessa Cashmore, head of A-levels said: “Stephen is an exceptional student with high aspirations and a committed approach to his studies.

“We are all incredibly proud of his achievements and never doubted his ability to succeed. It has been a privilege to support Stephen throughout his academic journey at Coleg Sir Gâr and we wish him all the best for his future.”

25 year-old Freya Hutton-Lightfoot won the Principal’s Award for Lifelong Learning.

Specialising in healthcare, Freya is studying an access to higher education course, which is a university entry qualification and preparation programme for university study.

Freya achieved straight distinction grades and achieved 45 full-mark distinction credits as well as achieving 100 per cent in two chemistry exams.

Bethan Norman, lecturer in access at Coleg Sir Gâr said: “Freya was a pleasure to have in class, she was always engaged and completed all tasks to a high standard with enthusiasm.

“I was immediately impressed by the high academic level that Freya came into the course with, particularly due to fact that she was home schooled and did not have any GCSEs.

“This demonstrates just how much work she has put in for her to develop into the outstanding academic that she is today and I am sure that she will be successful at university where she is currently studying adult nursing.”

Vanessa Cashmore, head of A-levels and Access at Coleg Sir Gâr, said: “Our annual awards evening is a lovely end to the year where we recognise students for their outstanding effort, academic excellence and lifelong learning.”

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