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Education

‘Testing fails pupils’

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STANDARDISED testing continues to leave pupils and schools distressed, according to a national survey of teachers in Wales. 

The research, conducted by NUT Cymru, shows that after four years, the literacy and numeracy tests are even more divisive than ever.

Some teachers have even expressed the view that they are considering leaving the profession rather than continue to subject pupils to the testing regime.

As a result of the survey’s findings, the NUT has again called for a review of the system, which it claims is undermining the impact of the Foundation Phase and hindering children’s emotional and educational progress.

The union says some teachers are questioning their long-term commitment to the profession, with one survey respondent stating: “I want to hang my head in shame for what I’m doing to the mental health of the children in my care. I’m ashamed of being a part of a system where all the encouragement of the past year is wiped away by a cross on a scale which says they aren’t good enough. I have seriously considered leaving teaching rather than be part of this testing regime again.”

In 2012, 33% of teachers said they received contact from parents in relation to the assessments and that these were almost exclusively negative. This year’s results showed that the figure was now 56% with the majority stating it remained negative or mixed at best.

NUT Cymru Secretary, David Evans, said: “Once again we see an alarming level of anger and frustration from teachers when asked about the impact of these tests on pupils and on their working conditions.

“The headline figures are extremely worrying but what is particularly worth highlighting is the fact there is a rising level of opposition to the testing. Far from being convinced by standardised testing, the profession is becoming increasingly disillusioned with the policy.

“Perhaps the most depressing evidence is the anecdotal feedback from teachers in regards to the impact those tests have on their pupils. Children are being left demoralised, in tears and with low self-esteem. This is not the outcome any teacher or parent wants to see and it is certainly one of the reasons cited by teachers for considering leaving the profession.

“There is a new Cabinet Secretary in place at the Welsh Government. These tests are not her policy. We have written to Kirsty Williams with the details of this survey and hope a fresh pair of eyes can lead to a new way of thinking, in particular for the very youngest children and in light of the Donaldson recommendations around a less intrusive approach to assessment.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We believe the best way to ensure children make regular progress is to make sure they never fall behind and that this can only be achieved through careful monitoring and assessment of their progress. The national reading and numeracy tests were introduced so that practitioners could gain a clearer picture of pupils’ reading and numeracy skills and use that information to support their progression.

“Our guidance is very clear that there should be no undue preparation for the tests and that all schools are expected to maintain a broad and balanced curriculum throughout the school year. While familiarising children with the format of the tests is good practice, drilling children is never acceptable because it will almost certainly generate feelings of negativity.

“We have taken a number of steps to minimise the impact of the tests on schools’ workloads. Through the Education Improvement Grant, we provide funding to schools which allows them to bring in invigilators, markers or clerical help. We also provide a supported marking service for the Numerical Reasoning tests which we know from feedback is highly valued by practitioners.

“Professor Donaldson’s report ‘Successful Futures’ makes clear that testing is an important element in the range of assessment techniques available to schools but that improvements can be made. Our move to online adaptive tests in 2018 will deliver this.”

While the union reports that 97.5% of respondents did not believe the tests were a positive experience for pupils (up 4% from the original 2013 survey and overall 86% of teachers felt the tests had added to their workloads), the proportion of teachers in Wales who provided responses was very low indeed.

There are around 25,000 teachers in Wales. Even taking into account that not all of those teachers are members of the NUT, a figure of 287 respondents is a very small sample upon which to base definitive conclusions.

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Cymraeg

Cadarnhau lleoliad ysgol ardal newydd yn Nyffryn Aeron

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Mae Ysgol Ciliau Parc yn un o'r ysgolion y bwriedir iddi gau

YN 2019, ymatebodd Cabinet Cyngor Sir Ceredigion i’r ymgynghoriad cyhoeddus helaeth ar leoliad ysgol ardal newydd yn Nyffryn Aeron.

Ers hynny, mae’r Cyngor wedi bod wrthi’n caffael tir ar gyfer yr ysgol ardal newydd, a gall gadarnhau bod tir wedi’i brynu at y diben hwn yn y lleoliad isod.

Ysgol Ardan Dyffryn Aeron lleoliad

Roedd barn gref bod rhanddeiliaid yn dymuno gweld yr ysgol yn cael ei lleoli ar safle newydd, ac nid ar gampws Theatr Felinfach yn unol ag un o’r opsiynau arfaethedig gwreiddiol.

Bydd ysgolion cynradd Ciliau Parc, Felinfach a Dihewyd i gyd yn cau er mwyn ffurfio ysgol newydd yn Nyffryn Aeron.

Y Cynghorydd Catrin Miles yw’r aelod Cabinet sy’n gyfrifol am Ysgolion, Dysgu Gydol Oes a Sgiliau, Cymorth ac Ymyrraeth. Dywedodd: “Rwy’n falch iawn o weld bod y Cyngor wedi llwyddo i brynu’r lleoliad hwn ar gyfer yr ysgol ardal newydd. Bydd yr ysgol newydd yn darparu offer a chyfleusterau modern ar gyfer disgyblion oedran cynradd a bydd yn sicr yn ychwanegiad cyfoethog i Ddyffryn Aeron.”

Gall y Cyngor nawr fwrw ymlaen â’r camau nesaf, sy’n cynnwys sefydlu Corff Llywodraethu Cysgodol ar gyfer yr ysgol newydd.

Bydd rhagor o wybodaeth yn cael ei chyhoeddi maes o law.

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Education

Location of new Aeron Valley area school confirmed

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Ysgol Ciliau Parc is one of the schools planned to close

IN 2019, Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet responded to the extensive public consultation on the location of a new area school in the Aeron Valley.

Since then, the Council has been in the process of acquiring land for the new area school and can confirm that land has been purchased for this purpose at the location below.

Ysgol Ardan Dyffryn Aeron location

There was a strong view that stakeholders wished to see the school located on a new site, and not on the Felinfach Theatre campus as per one of the original proposed options.

Ciliau Parc, Felinfach and Dihewyd primary schools will all close in order to form a new school in the Aeron Valley.

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Schools, Lifelong Learning & Skills, Support and Intervention. She said: “I’m thrilled to see that the Council was successful in purchasing this location for the new area school. The new school will provide modern facilities and equipment for primary age pupils and will certainly be a rich addition to the Aeron Valley.”

The Council can now proceed with the next steps which includes establishing a Shadow Governing Body for the new school.

Further information will be announced in due course.

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Education

Ceredigion shortlisted for Youth Excellence Awards 2021

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THE YOUTH WORK EXCELLENCE AWARDS is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate outstanding youth work projects, youth workers and those involved in youth work across Wales including volunteers, managers and community partners.

Youth work provides and facilitates an environment within which young people can relax, have fun, and feel secure, supported and valued. Through non-formal and informal educational opportunities and experiences, youth work approaches challenge young people to enhance their life chances.

In 2019, Ceredigion Youth Service were successful in having two projects and one volunteer shortlisted with two winning their respective categories. This year, Youth Worker Rebecca Williams has been shortlisted for the Outstanding Youth Worker category.

Team Manager for Community Youth Work and Prevention, Gwen Evans said: “We decided as a service to nominate Rebecca because we recognised the outstanding efforts and commitment that she has shown throughout the pandemic and continues to have an exceptional impact on the lives of young people. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Rebecca has adapted her work to be both digital and in-person focussed depending on the needs of young people, ensuring that young people do not feel isolated and are included in online activities, phone calls and door step visits which have recently increased to wellbeing walks and structured activity groups.”

In addition to this, Ceredigion Young Farmers Club have also been shortlisted for the award ‘Demonstrating excellence at a local level in Partnership Planning and delivery’ for the collaborative approach that they’ve shown throughout the pandemic.

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Schools, Lifelong Learning & Skills, Support and Intervention. She said: “Young Farmers Clubs across Ceredigion have been supporting their local rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. From delivering essential groceries and collecting prescriptions to walking dogs and checking in on the most vulnerable, YFC members, young people, have stepped up and rallied around their communities. We feel that the response of Ceredigion YFC during the pandemic is an excellent example of how the firm foundations of good quality Youth Work has made a positive difference to the lives of vulnerable people and communities during an incredibly challenging year.”

Elen James, Corporate Lead Officer for Porth Cymorth Cynnar said: “It is fantastic for the service to have these recognitions for the hard work and resilience that has been shown throughout this period. It’s a testament to them as individuals and the teamwork that has been shown for the benefit of young people and their communities. We have also recently been awarded with additional Youth Support Grant funding to develop Welsh language activities as well as developing the work around early emotional and mental health support for young people. This will enable us to continue to work closely and effectively with a wide range of voluntary and third sector partners to develop opportunities for children, young people and their families.”

All nominations will be assessed by a panel of judges made up of young people and representatives from the youth work sector in Wales. The Award Ceremony will take place virtually on 9 December where all finalists will be announced.

For more information about the work of Porth Cymorth Cynnar and the Support and Prevention Service, visit their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page at @GICeredigionYS. You can also visit their website at www.giceredigionys.co.uk or email porthcymorthcynnar@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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