UWTSD welcomed Education Secretary Kirsty Williams AM to the university’s Yr Athrofa (Institute of Education) on Friday, January 12.
During her visit she was given an update on the university’s radical new approach to teacher education by Vice-chancellor Professor Medwin Hughes and Professor Dylan Jones, Dean of Yr Athrofa.
The Cabinet Secretary also spoke to students and outlined the Welsh Government’s vision for education’s future in Wales.
Addressing the students, the Cabinet Secretary said: “Together we are all responsible for ensuring that every young person in Wales has an equal opportunity to reach the highest standards. You are the new generation of teachers, the agents of change, changing lives and making a difference.
“I wouldn’t be standing here today if it wasn’t for my history teacher. He changed my life. He saw something in me and that sparked me to do something. You have the opportunity to do just that too.” Kirsty Williams told students:
“The overall objective of our National Mission is simple, clear and ambitious. Together, we will raise standards, reduce the attainment gap, and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and enjoys public confidence.
“You won’t be surprised to hear that you, our teachers of tomorrow, are absolutely integral to this National Mission.”
She continued by addressing the new curriculum and the coming changes for education in Wales: “I wanted to talk to you about it because not only is it hugely important, but it also is a good reflection of how we do things differently in Wales – how we trust in you – our teaching profession.
“By introducing a transformational new curriculum, we have set ourselves a big task. I make no apologies for that.
“Our new curriculum will represent what we want – what we expect – the citizens of the future to become, to know, and to have gained from their teachers.”
Telling her audience that educationalists ‘around the world’ are waiting to see how Wales’ education system develops, Ms Williams said: “Our education system can only be as good as our teachers. Providing good quality training is therefore a priority for this government.
“Initial Teacher Training is incredibly important, but it doesn’t end there. This is just the beginning.
“I expect teachers to take control of their professional learning, whilst also being given the time to teach, and have confidence in what they’re teaching.
“As teachers, we will support you through the new Professional Standards for teaching: promoting ambition, aspiration and ownership. Raising the standing of the profession as a whole.
“I need to be clear here: I do not mean that I think the standard of teaching in Wales is sub-par, far from it, I know full well of the excellence already in our education system.
“Instead, these new standards will establish a high-status teaching profession by providing a framework to support the development of leadership capacity all levels.”
Kirsty Williams concluded by telling the students: “it is you – as individuals, as a collective, as future leaders – that are changing the course of our education story.
“Working together, to ensure a child’s background doesn’t determine their future. Together, to raise standards in all of our schools. Together, so Wales can become a world leader in education.”
Professor Dylan Jones said: “We were delighted to welcome a return visit by the Cabinet Secretary, whose inspirational presentation left those present in no doubt as to her commitment to practising teachers and future teachers.
“She has called for an overhaul of ITE in Wales and we recognise the important role universities, in partnership with schools, have to play in raising standards.
“It is imperative future and existing teachers have the requisite skills and knowledge to deliver wales’ new national curriculum – and improving the quality of education and training available will be crucial.
“Huge potential exists within Wales’ education system and we are committed to playing our part in driving positive change and empowering schools for the benefit of all learners.” Professor Medwin Hughes said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Cabinet Secretary to the University of Wales Trinity Saint David to address and engage with our student-teachers and to provide her with an update of our exciting plans for the future.
“The university is proud of its rich history in teacher education and, through our newly-established Yr Athrofa, looks forward to building a new and exciting legacy.
“The young people of Wales deserve the best education and the teachers of Wales deserve the best support possible. They will be at the forefront of our minds as we move forward onto our next chapter.”
Apprentices deserve better financial support
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.”
Minister visits adult learning initiative
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.”
Extra investment in 21st Century Schools
£100M 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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