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Education

Attainment gap closes again

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Kirsty Williams: 'Good news, but more to do'

Kirsty Williams: ‘Good news, but more to do’

NEW figures show the attainment gap between children and young people receiving free school meals and their peers has closed for the second year.

The statistics show a further increase in the proportion of learners eligible for free school meals achieving five good GCSEs including Mathematics and English or Welsh first language. This represents the best performance yet by our disadvantaged learners.

The data also shows that performance for all learners is continuing to improve, with attainment at its highest ever levels.

Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams said: “These results recognise the efforts of pupils, teachers and parents in Wales and I praise their hard work in achieving a commendable set of results.

“I am pleased that the Pupil Deprivation Grant is making a real difference to the lives of these children and that we are starting to break the link between poverty and attainment that has dogged our education system.

“While this is good news, there is still a lot more that we need to do. That is why I recently announced my intention to double the Early Years Pupil Deprivation Grant, concentrating extra resources on our youngest pupils.

“It remains our mission that every child deserves a fair start in life so that everyone will have the opportunity to succeed.”

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Education

Into the Looking Glass

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Selfie culture: Becoming one with the screen

A FILM about the future of selfie culture produced by two Aberystwyth University’s media lecturers has been shortlisted for the British Universities Film & Video Council’s Learning on Screen Awards 2018.

Into the Looking Glass​ ​- how selfie culture is preparing us to meet our future selves​ -​ has been produced by Dr Greg Bevan and Dr Glen Creeber from the University’s Department of Theatre, Film & Television Studies.

The 24​ ​minute video essay takes a close look at the future development of selfie culture and its proliferation via smart technology.

The British Universities Film & Video Council’s Learning on Screen is a charity whose members are experts in the use of moving image in education, delivering online academic databases, on demand video resources, training, information and advice.

Dr Bevan said: “Video essays as academic outputs are still a fairly new idea. It’s a way of engaging with your audience more imaginatively, and also of introducing theories and concepts to new and non-academic audiences who might never ordinarily read a journal article.

“We also hope the video essay will be a useful teaching aid in the fields of digital media, digital culture, media and communications, and beyond​.”​

The film explores the idea that the screen is coming increasingly nearer to the viewer – from the village cinema to the living room. Now it is carried in the form of a tablet or phone; but what lies beyond the likes of VR sets and smart watches? Could eye and brain implants lead to the screen disappearing altogether? Will the viewer eventually become one with the screen?

Dr Creeber said: “The ideas explored in this film affect almost everybody in society today, and in future societies. Not only is the screen coming physically nearer, but we are increasingly seeing ourselves reflected in it.

“We are no longer passive spectators watching the screen from a distance; we are now active participants. Rather than taking a typically pessimistic view of this technological change, the film suggests some ways in which these developments could in fact be of benefit to humanity.”

The original score for the film was composed by Dr Alan Chamberlain, a Senior Research Fellow at the Mixed Reality Lab, Department of Computer Science at the University of Nottingham.

Dr Alan Chamberlain said: “It’s exciting to see the importance of this collaboration being recognised at a national level and nominated for an award. Working with Aberystwyth University has allowed us to show the impact that cross-disciplinary research across universities can have.

“This project brings together the Arts and Sciences in a way that it is both interesting and innovative. Aberystwyth University is one of the creative powerhouses in the academic landscape of Wales and it’s been a great experience to work with people there, we’re already working on our next project.”

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the BFI Southbank, London on April 26.

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Education

Lampeter Masterclasses open for all

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Lifelong learning: Lampeter offers the opportunity

THE UNIVERSITY of Wales Trinity Saint David has officially launched a new ‘Lampeter Masterclasses’ programme and brochure.

The ‘Lampeter Masterclasses’ programme includes a range of residential weekend and evening courses for 2018. The courses on offer will appeal to a range of different audiences, covering new subject areas such as yoga, meditation and wellbeing, alongside the University’s more traditional humanities courses and disciplines which are for the first time being offered in new and different ways. UWTSD’s Lampeter campus is nestled in the heart of Lampeter and is the oldest University in Wales, and the third oldest in England and Wales after Oxford and Cambridge. It was established by Royal Charter in 1822 by Bishop Thomas Burgess of St David’s (1803-25) as St David’s College, Lampeter, with the gift of land from the local landowner, John Harford. The college took five years to build and the first students were admitted in 1827.

The new ‘Lampeter Masterclasses’ brochure provides details of the type of courses and workshops on offer, as well as the range of subject areas and topics you can study at the University’s Lampeter campus this year.

Dean for the Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts. Dr Jeremy Smith said: “We’re very committed to lifelong learning and education for all. Regardless of age and background, whether you are retired or in fulltime employment, studying for reasons of career development or simply for the pleasure of learning, then studying the humanities in all their breadth and sweep should be available to all.

“Our structure of delivery has been adapted to offer a more personalised approach to learning. This approach to study is one that fits in with a student’s own needs and demands. So whether you want to study on certain days of the week, or study at a slower or faster pace, or simply study for its own sake and love of subject, rather than for a qualification, then we have a course appropriate to you. In other words Lampeter offers you a wide choice of courses. These range from weekly workshops, evening courses and study at a distance, occasional or ‘drop in’ lectures, weekend workshops, day courses, larger academic conferences and weekend field trips.

“We’re very proud of what we have to offer on the Lampeter campus and this brochure will show you the variation of provision we have here throughout the year. We look forward to welcoming you to the wonderful county of Ceredigion and to our beautiful Lampeter campus.”

Jacqui Weatherburn, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the University said; “The Lampeter Masterclasses’ is a new and exciting development for the University which has seen us re-imagine the Masterclass concept. This is a unique and exciting offer from our Lampeter campus which has something for every level and interest, from Expert Lectures, to Mindfulness Retreats, Interactive Workshops and a family Mediaeval day. The Programme on offer will continue to grow as the University moves to its 200th Anniversary in 2022 and as we extend the Masterclass concept across our campuses.”

To book any of the Weekend courses listed in the brochure, please visit: www.uwtsd.ac.uk/humanities-workshops

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Education

Foundation Phase Excellence Network launched

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'A new level of professional development': Kirsty Williams introduces scheme

A NEW network which aims to improve the teaching and learning of the Foundation Phase across all schools and education settings in Wales is to be launched by Education Secretary Kirsty Williams today during a visit to Llanrhidian Primary School in Swansea.

The Foundation Phase Excellence Network brings together leading figures from across the education spectrum to ensure a more structured approach to develop Foundation Phase practitioner support for those working with children age three to seven.

With the aim of inspiring young minds together, and supported by £1millon Welsh Government funding, the network will include representation from local authority education services, schools and child care settings that deliver the Foundation Phase, regional consortia, Higher Education and third sector organisations which will work together to share expertise, experience, knowledge and best practice.

A new online community learning zone has also been established to facilitate the sharing of information, resources and research between practitioners. The zone will also host 20 new case studies including three short films which showcase effective practice in Foundation Phase.

They have been produced by working collaboratively with schools and settings from across Wales in five key areas of practice: child development, environment experiences, leadership, pedagogy, and Welsh language. The case studies will be available on the new zone during March and April.

Welcoming the launch, Kirsty Williams said: “Building on similar models to our already successful National Network for Excellence in Mathematics and National Network for Excellence Science and Technology, this new Foundation Phase network will support workforce and leadership development, boost the research capacity of the education profession in Wales and ensure that implementation of the Foundation Phase happens in a consistent and effective manner.

“Practitioners in the Foundation Phase are doing an incredible job, one the toughest but most rewarding jobs around, and they deserve all our support. This network and its supporting online resources are just the start of a new level of professional development in Foundation Phase for school settings.

“This development goes to the heart of what our national mission and the new curriculum is about – raising standards, reducing the attainment gap and delivering an education system that is a source of national pride and confidence.”

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