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Education

Success for Coleg Sir Gâr students

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Gold: Ebony Evans

Gold: Ebony Evans

TWO STUDENTS from Coleg Sir Gâr have won gold in two national skills competition heats in the carpentry and health and life sciences categories.

Inclusive Skills is part of Skills Competitions Wales and is backed by the Welsh Government- designed to celebrate vocational skills for young people with learning difficulties or disabilities to help equip them with essential life, learning, and employability skills for the future.

Ebony Evans, 17, from Cross Hands, and Joshua Kerr, 18, from Ammanford, are just two of 11 Welsh youngsters who have been perfecting their skills in a bid to win a medal. Across a range of vocations, these budding skilled individuals could be chosen to represent Wales and Coleg Sir Gâr in the carpentry and health and life sciences categories at this year’s Skills Show in Birmingham this November. Competing against youngsters from across the UK, the pair could potentially join 82 Welsh competitors to be part of Team Wales.

Ebony competed against one other student, completing a series of health and life science challenges within a 40 minute time period, including preparing a healthy meal plan which accommodated different religious dietary requirements. Ebony, who is studying an A level in health and social care, said she is thrilled to have won.

“I’m so pleased to have won the competition; I feel like all my hard work has paid off and I’m excited about maybe going on to the next stage.

“We studied a range of different cultures in college and had to remember their dietary requirements while making sure the meal plan was well balanced and healthy. I feel really proud of myself and it’s made me think more about a future career in health and social care.”

Joshua, who studies an entry level qualification in timber products, completed a series of carpentry challenges to win his gold medal by making a small wooden box using different joinery methods and demonstrating safety in the workshop. He said: “Being successful in this competition has made me think of all the different things I could do with a carpentry qualification; there’s so many options in the woodwork trade. For now, I’m going to concentrate on getting to the next stage of my competition journey and making my family proud of me.”

Inclusive Skills forms part of the Welsh Government’s Skills Competitions Wales, designed to promote the importance of vocational skills with the aim of boosting the overall skill capabilities and prosperity of Wales.

Julie James, Minister for Skills and Science, said: “The Inclusive Skills competitions are a great way to not only help young people show off their skills but also test their abilities and become more independent. It’s important to promote inclusive competitions and raise the profile of students with learning difficulties, helping them become work-ready and broadening their career options and aspirations.

“I’m proud that 2016 sees the highest number of competitors Wales has ever sent to the Skills Show in Birmingham and am confident that Ebony and Joshua will help to boost the country’s team in the final heats.”

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Education

Poison arrow frogs at New Scientist Live

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Dr Siu-Ting: Specialises in amphibians

​ABERYSTYWTH UNIVERISTY​ scientist Dr Karen Siu-Ting discuss​ed poison arrow frogs at New Scientist Live ​last Thursday ​(Sept ​28​).

Dr Siu-Ting is an IRC ELEVATE-MSCA Co-fund Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University.

Her research into poison arrow frogs feature​d​ as part of ‘Ask a Biologist’​,​ hosted by The Royal Society of Biology.

An evolutionary biologist from Peru,​​ Dr Siu-Ting specialises in amphibians and combines field work in the Amazon rainforest with laboratory and computational analyses to address biological questions.

She is currently working on a project on poison arrow frogs between Aberystwyth University and Dublin City University.

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Education

Apply for six-month traineeship scheme

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Applications open: Join the National Park Authority’s Skills in Action traineeship scheme

​IF YOU’D like to earn as you learn hands-on skills to prepare you for a career in practical conservation or estate management, apply now for Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Skills in Action traineeship scheme.

The project, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future scheme, will provide two six-month salaried apprenticeships with the National Park Authority’s Ranger and Warden Teams.

Skills in Action Project Coordinator for Pembrokeshire Coast Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Tom Iggleden said: “The successful candidates will be learning the skills and experience that are essential to be successful in obtaining employment within a highly competitive sector.

“The main duties of the placement will include practical hands-on work-based experience in conservation and estate management.”

The six month traineeship will see the successful applicants learn a wide variety of skills including traditional hedgelaying and modern conservation methods that are essential to the work of the National Park Authority.

This is an extension to the original three-year project which has helped many of the 15 previous trainees gain employment​.​

The closing date for applications is October 2​4 with interviews to be held on November​ 6​.

Application packs are available from the National Park Authority’s website ​at​www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/jobs or by contacting contact Joanne Morgan by calling 01646 624856 or by emailing joannem@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk.

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Education

Committee concerned at £12.7m error

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ALN Bill: Savings turn into costs

​A £12.7M alteration to the cost of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill has been described as concerning by a National Assembly for Wales committee.

In the original figures submitted alongside the Bill the Welsh Government identified savings of £4.8m over a period of four years if the Bill was passed.

But the estimates were challenged by children’s charity SNAP Cymru which claimed the Welsh Government had misinterpreted figures it had provided concerning disputes and resolution services. The Welsh Government admitted the error and revised the figures from the original saving to a cost of £7.9m – a difference of £12.7m.

The Finance Committee asked the Welsh Government to delay the financial resolution on the Bill, the mechanism by which government gains support to spend the money enacting the law and the government agreed.

“A £12.7m swing from a saving to a cost is very concerning, as it shows a government which doesn’t fully understand the figures it quotes,” said Simon Thomas AM, Chair of the Finance Committee.

“It also throws into doubt any future costs connected to Bills which come before this committee as we are left wondering whether the government has done its sums right.

“We are grateful to SNAP Cymru for highlighting the inaccuracies and acknowledge the steps taken by the Minister subsequently, but we will need further reassurance that such errors will not happen again.”

The Bill’s aim is to improve the quality of support available to children with additional learning needs through a person-centred approach which would identify needs early on and make sure the right support, monitoring and evaluation was put in place to help them.

The Finance Committee welcomed the actions taken by the Welsh Government to address the situation. But Members were concerned and surprised that inaccuracies as significant as this were raised and that SNAP Cymru was not consulted on the final figures before they were published.

The Committee acknowledges that revisions have since been made and the Minister’s assurances that the revised figures are robust, however, it is concerned at the need to have made this level of changes to the original costings.

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