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UWTSD hosts Head of Sixth Form Conference Wales

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Conference a success: Delegates and speakers

OVER 80 teachers from across Wales attended the Head of Sixth Form Conference Wales organised by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea.

The conference is an annual event that brings together members from Wales’s regional Sixth Form consortia to initiate collaboration, discussion, debate and critical engagement on Post 16 policy and provision.

As part of this year’s conference, a range of speakers were also invite to address a number of relevant topics and issues facing Heads of Sixth Form. These speakers included Philip Blaker, Chief Executive of Qualifications Wales; Charmaine Valente from the Student Loans Company (SLC); Catherine Evans, Assistant Director of Estyn; and James Durant from UCAS.

“The Heads of Sixth Form Wales Consortium is a professional delegation of likeminded professionals committed to ensuring that Post 16 students are best equipped to undertake their studies, plan futures conducive to their needs, interests and ambitions, and develop as young people,” says Jon Jones, the Chair of the South West Wales Heads of Sixth Form Consortium.

“To this end, the Consortium has been in existence since 2010, starting as a regional support network in West Wales, and since that time it has grown exponentially to include 120 member schools to date across the country; clear evidence of its value to Post 16 leaders and HE advisers and of the positive impact it has had on learners across Wales.

“It’s been a pleasure to welcome colleagues from across Wales in the knowledge that what we do makes a difference to young minds and futures and we does this in what I firmly believe is the most transformational phase of our students’ education,” he adds.

Following a welcome by UWTSD’s Professor Ian Walsh, Dean of Faulty of Art and Design, Philip Blaker from Qualifications Wales addressed the changes to qualifications in Wales. Charmaine Valente, Funding Information Partners Account Manager at the SLC talked the delegates through student finance packages; tuition fees, maintenance and the impact of the Diamond Review for Welsh students.

Catherine Evans introduced Estyn’s new inspection framework while James Durant from UCAS was on hand to advise regarding the UCAS process.

“The University of Wales Trinity Saint David took great pleasure in hosting the Heads of Sixth Form Summer Conference (Wales) 2017, in Swansea this year,” says Melanie Jones, Executive School Liaison Officer at UWTSD who organised the Conference.

“The Head of Sixth Form Consortium provides a forum to support and inspire both post-16 teachers and advisers in Wales, providing tailored training, CPD and networking opportunities.

“The conference was been arranged in response to the regular dialogues that we have with teacher and advisers and the feedback we’ve had from this year’s event has been very positive, proving the need for need for this type of forum.”

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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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