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Education

New teachers, terms and professional standards

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Ambitious for the teaching profession: Kirsty Williams

AS WALES continues its national mission to transform education and raise standards, newly qualified teachers commencing induction from ​September 1 will start using the new professional standards for teaching and leadership.

Developed in partnership with teachers across Wales, the new standards concentrate on the essential elements of every teacher’s work – pedagogy, collaboration, leadership, innovation and career-long professional learning.
The new standards will:

  • Replace 55 standards with five standards and descriptors that allow teachers to use the standards in a way that’s appropriate to their role.
  • Inspire, challenge and support every practitioner, from the trainee teacher to the experienced head teacher to focus on the skills, knowledge and behaviours required to meet the needs of their learners.
  • Better support new entrants to the teaching profession by bringing greater continuity between initial teacher education, induction and continued development throughout a teacher’s career.
  • Acknowledge the need for teachers to work together more effectively to make sure all learners benefit from excellent teaching and learning.
  • Develop the leadership capacity within the education system by supporting all teachers to develop their leadership skills.

The standards will apply to all serving teachers and leaders by September 2018 and initial teacher training programmes from September 2019. This will provide time to build familiarity with the new standards before they become mandatory.

Kirsty Williams said: “We value our professional teaching workforce in Wales, and want to support them to be the best they can be throughout their careers.

“Quite simply, no education system is better than the quality of its teachers. Alongside teachers and parents, I share the ambition for a profession committed to the highest standards, lifelong learning and high aspirations for all pupils.

“These new standards are about making sure teachers develop the right skills throughout their career. They empower all those teaching in our classrooms to work together to raise learner outcomes. This is a key part of a fundamental shift towards a system driven by career-long learning. My vision is to strengthen leadership and make sure that there is greater consistency across our schools.

“I am grateful to all those teachers, leaders, consortia and other partners who have been directly involved in developing these new standards – it is testament to what can be achieved through us working together.”

The Education Workforce Council has developed an enhanced Professional Learning Passport so that teachers can reflect on their practice and map their development against the 5 standards.

Hayden Llewellyn said: “The standards are a welcome addition to the Passport. We encourage teachers to use them in planning their professional learning and development as they progress through their careers.”

The four regional education consortia will ensure that every newly qualified teacher has a mentor to support them in using and evidencing the standards throughout their induction period.

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Education

Methane-eating bacteria discovered beneath Antarctica

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Study: Beneath Antartica

METHANE-EATING bacteria discovered in a lake beneath Antarctica may prevent the powerful greenhouse gas from being release into the atmosphere as ice sheets melt, scientists believe.

Researchers from Aberystwyth University, Louisiana State University and Montana State University have analysed samples of water and sediment retrieved from Lake Whillans which lies 800 metres below the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Isolated from direct contact with the atmosphere for many thousands of years, the lake was successfully drilled by the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project in 2013.

The team used a combination of measurements of methane concentrations and genomic analyses to describe how lake bacteria chemically convert methane in a way that reduces the warming potential of subglacial gases during ice sheet retreats.

The prevalence of methane-consuming bacteria in the upper lake sediment suggests a ‘methane bio-filter’ prevents the gas from entering the subglacial water, where it can eventually drain into the ocean and be released into the atmosphere.

The bacteria obtain energy from digesting the methane.

Their findings have been published in a paper in the journal Nature Geoscience – Microbial oxidation as a methane sink beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

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Education

Local universities explain clearing

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AS 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.

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

UWTSD celebrates students’ satisfaction

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THE UNIVERSITY of Wales Trinity Saint David has been awarded its highest ever Student Satisfaction score in the National Student Survey 2017 (NSS).

Satisfaction amongst final year undergraduates at the University has improved in two consecutive years to 85% from 79% two years ago.

This was achieved in a year when a new survey format was introduced and when the overall UK national average fell from 87% to 84%. The University welcomes these results which now see UWTSD ranked 4th University overall in Wales.

In many key areas these NSS results show that the University has performed above or in line with the sector average including for the strength of teaching where 91% of UWTSD students agreed that ‘staff are good at explaining things’.

The University is ranked first overall in Wales in the new ‘Learning Community’ category which asks students if they feel part of a community of students and staff and if they’ve had the opportunity to work with other students as they complete their degree. UWTSD was also ranked 2nd overall in Wales in the ‘Learning Opportunities’ and ‘Assessment Feedback’ categories.

The annual survey asks final year students to rate their student experience and includes questions on such topics as the quality of the teaching, assessment and feedback, academic support, organisation and management, as well as the learning resources available to students and the student voice. These results include feedback from students across the University’s Swansea, Carmarthen, Lampeter and London campuses as well as those studying at its constituent college Coleg Sir Gâr and FE partner colleges.

“We very much welcome these latest results which have seen a further increase in Student Satisfaction at UWTSD,” said Dr Mirjam Plantinga, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor Student Experience. “To improve our UK and Wales position so much in just two years is quite an achievement and is testament to the hard work of all staff at the University. We’re delighted with the excellent department-level results which include a particularly strong performance from the Faculty of Education and Communities with their first place in Wales for ‘Initial Teacher Training’ and top ten UK positions for ‘Academic Studies in Education’ and Social Work.”

Dr Plantinga added: “Student engagement is a priority at UWTSD and is crucial to achieving a high quality student experience. We work in close partnership with the Students’ Union to ensure that student voice is integral to our planning activities throughout the organisation. As we do with every survey we will be looking at the results to help us identify areas for enhancement. National surveys provide us with that vital feedback to help us ensure we’re meeting the needs of our students.”

Rob Simkins, TSDSU Group President said: “It’s encouraging to see a positive result in so many areas, with particularly good results at individual course level too. The Students’ Union will continue to work closely with the University during the coming year to continue the good work in enhancing the student experience across all of our campuses”.

These latest NSS results confirm the University’s strong performance in relation to its quality of teaching, academic support and learning community in many student-centred surveys over the past year.

Of the 122 British universities that were part of the recent Times Higher Education Student Experience survey UWTSD was ranked in the top 20 overall for ‘Academic Experience’, and ranked 4th in the UK for ‘good personal relationships with teaching staff’, and joint first in Wales. UWTSD was also ranked 9th in the UK for ‘high-quality staff/ lectures’ and again joint first in Wales.

Of the 45 institutions that took part in the 2016 Autumn Wave of the International Student Barometer and Student Barometer survey globally UWTSD was ranked first overall in eleven of the main categories surveyed including for the ‘quality of lectures’, ‘personal tutoring’ and the university’s ‘counselling services’. UWTSD also came out on top when it came to ‘small class sizes’, ‘assessing students’ work’ and ‘meeting staff on arrival’.

Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor, said: “The excellent results achieved in the NSS is very pleasing and supports the feedback that we have received throughout the year from our students where the quality of teaching, academic support and the learning community are consistently rated highly by our students. The University makes a considerable investment in ensuring the quality of the student experience through the range of activities and opportunities provided as part of, or in addition to, our programmes of study. We will continue to develop engaging initiatives for our students in order to ensure that they are provided with a range of opportunities to develop as well-rounded individuals who will make a valuable contribution to their chosen fields of expertise.”

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