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Education

Supply teacher scheme unveiled

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'Significant and important': Kirsty Williams highlights supply teachers

A NEW £2.7m project to improve the way supply teachers support schools was announced by the Education Secretary Kirsty Williams on Tuesday (Oct 24).

The new funding will support 15 local authorities to create new supply teacher arrangements across 86 schools. The project will support the appointment of around 50 recently qualified teachers who will work across groups of schools, covering teacher absence and supporting wider school improvements and learner outcomes.

The Welsh Government claims the new approach will nurture recently qualified teachers whilst also ensuring cover within schools. The pilot project will run during the current and next financial years and follows recommendations from the Supply Model Taskforce report published earlier this year.

Kirsty Williams said: “Supply teachers form a significant and important part of our teaching workforce. It is vital that they are an informed part of our system, so they are ready and able to support our national mission of education reform.

“I want to improve the way that our system currently employs, manages and supports our supply teachers. I am committed to ensuring that teachers who work flexibly in this way are well equipped, appropriately rewarded, and integrated into the teaching profession.

“This new funding is about being more flexible and innovative in our approach to covering teacher absence. Under our plans, our supply teachers will be supported in the same way that permanent teachers are.

“This approach will invest in and nurture recently qualified teachers whilst also ensuring that there is sufficient cover within schools to meet demands for ALN delivery and other specialist teachers including Welsh-medium teachers.”

The Welsh Government aims for any savings identified from school supply budgets to be re-invested to build capacity in the system to support schools to manage their supply needs in a more co-ordinated, collaborative and sustainable manner.

The National Education Union Cymru have welcomed the Welsh Government’s investment. The union recognise the importance of the pilot scheme but also warn that reform of the supply sector has been overdue for many years and further action will be needed to tackle the underlying concerns of the profession.

David Evans, Wales Secretary at the National Education Union Cymru, said: “The National Education Union has consistently called for a guaranteed year of employment for newly qualified teachers and so this proposal does offer some positive steps towards that. We can also support this as a move in the right direction towards a better supply system for teachers. Too long have those working as supply teachers been neglected and exploited. This pilot could very well lead to a new way of doing things that improves conditions for teachers and standards across our education system.

“However, we must also be honest in recognising that this can only be seen as the start of the changes that are required. While the investment is welcomed, and the Welsh Government is clearly acknowledging that action is needed to address the concerns within the supply sector, this will not solve the wider issues for supply teachers in general. While it will allow some newly qualified teachers to secure a foothold on their chosen career it won’t tackle the concerns of those vastly experienced supply teachers who need to be afforded the same opportunity.

“We will continue to campaign for a fairer and more equitable approach to supply teaching that does not leave teachers feeling marginalised and look forward to working further with the Welsh Government on the results of this pilot and other proposals in future.”

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Education

Apprentices deserve better financial support

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More and better funding: Committee calls for better deal for apprentices

APPRENTICES in Wales should have similar access to financial support as University students.

That’s the main finding from the Assembly’s Economy Infrastructure and Skills Committee, which published its latest report on Apprenticeships in Wales on Thursday​ (Feb 14)​.

Committee Chair, Russell George AM, said: “Parity of esteem between vocational and academic routes needs to be underpinned by parity of support for learners.

“There is a strong moral case for the Welsh Government to apply similar levels of support to apprentices as would be available to their peers in full-time education.”

The Welsh Government has this week launched an advertising campaign to promote a new package of measures for university students which it describes as ​’​the most generous student support package in the UK​’​.

While apprentices receive a wage while they train, they are not eligible for the support available to students, which can make being an apprentice seem less attractive.

The Committee heard that some young people are deterred from entering apprenticeships by the initial costs involved. These can be relatively minor sums of money to travel to interviews, or the first few weeks of work before they get paid.

The Committee’s work found that while there is much that is positive about Apprenticeships in Wales there were a few surprises.

Mr George added: “We were surprised that the number of disabled apprentices in Wales was far below the rate achieved in England.

“We were also concerned that a lack of providers may be preventing young people undertaking apprenticeships through the medium of Welsh.

“There is still a stubborn gender segregation when we talk about apprenticeships. Both the Welsh Government and stakeholders are committed to address this, and are taking steps to do so, but progress has been slow. This issue is not unique to Wales.

“We are recommending annual publication of figures to maintain pressure and ensure that apprenticeships in Wales are available to all.”

The Committee also looked at the role of careers guidance for young people – particularly in schools – to ensure they are being made aware of vocational as well as academic options.

Mr George added: “During the course of our investigation we heard concerns about the way careers advice is delivered in schools. Our additional scrutiny in this area has given us assurance that Careers Wales has a credible plan, and is working closely with the Welsh Government and schools to address these issues. We will keep an eye on whether this proves successful.​”

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Education

Minister visits adult learning initiative

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Eluned Morgan: Inspired by visit to Monkton School

WELSH Language and Lifelong Learning Minister, Eluned Morgan visited Monkton Primary School in Pembrokeshire on Friday, February 9, to hear more about a successful community adult learning initiative run from the school.

Started in September 2012 with support from the Welsh Government, the Launch Project aims to raise adults’ skills standards and education attainment within the community by making learning accessible to everyone.

Both accredited and non-accredited courses and workshops are delivered at the school and other community venues and have been specifically designed to remove barriers so that people in the community can gain the confidence and skills needed to seek employment.

The provision has also been designed to cater for a wide range of learner needs, from basic skills and IT courses to various accredited courses including a foundation degree in Education and Social Inclusion.

During the visit the Minister met with some of the adult learners who have benefitted from the project and heard their personal accounts about how it has helped them to turn their lives around, gain new skills and seize new employment opportunities.

Speaking after the visit, Minister said: “This project is a great example of a community-driven learning initiative that has been designed by the community for the community and I applaud Monkton Primary School for its pivotal role in that.

“The school is clearly committed to lifelong learning and building an ethos of working and learning together, built on mutual respect between adults and children.

“It was also inspiring hearing from those who have benefitted from the project and seeing first hand the positive impact it has had on their lives and their confidence.”

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Education

Extra investment in 21st Century Schools

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Announced £100m extra: Kirsty Williams

£100​M ​is to be invested over the next three years to accelerate the delivery of the flagship 21st Century Schools and Education programme, Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams and Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan ​has said.

An extra £75m, has been allocated to the 21st Century Schools and Education Programme a major, long-term and strategic capital investment programme to modernise education infrastructure.

In addition, £30m will be released from the programme in future years for immediate investment in capital projects that will contribute to the goal of reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050. This is a shared priority with Plaid Cymru.

The money will bring the total invested over the life of the programme to almost £3.8bn. The first phase of the programme will finish in 2019 having invested £1.4bn to support the rebuild and refurbishment of more than 150 schools and colleges across Wales. The second phase will see a spend of £2.3bn.

Kirsty Williams said: “Our national mission is to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and confidence. Our 21st Century Schools and Education Programme plays a key part in this and is the largest investment in our schools and colleges since the 1960s.

“Having a comfortable, modern, fit-for-purpose environment in which to learn is vital to ensuring young people have the best possible education. This extra funding will mean that even more of our students will be able to benefit from having the best possible facilities in their schools and colleges.​”​

Eluned Morgan said: “Reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050 is a significant challenge and education is key to the success of this ambition. This means we need to invest in new Welsh medium schools and improve and increase the teaching of Welsh in English medium schools. Bringing forward this funding for immediate investment allows us to ensure there is no delay in the work to achieve this target.”

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