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Education

“Nudge-u-cation” could improve education

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Dr David Halpern: Behavioural approaches unlock new solutions

MANY British adults are showing signs of pessimism about the state of education in schools, but are ready to place their hope in teachers who take a more experimental approach, a new survey has found.

The poll of 2,000 adults by the charity Pro Bono Economics, has found that only one in four British people (27%) believe that children today get a better overall primary and secondary school education than they did. As many as 43% say that schools are worse than they were in their day, while just 14% believe that there is no difference compared to the proverbial best days of their lives.

Meanwhile, the public mood among adults implies that there are fewer guarantees of security when it comes to jobs, finances, owning a home and a comfortable retirement.

Comparing today’s school children to their parents:

  • Two-thirds (65%) of British adults think that today’s young people will be less likely to own their own home;
  • 57% say they will have less job security;
  • 54% say they will be less likely to benefit from a good pension;
  • 47% say they will be worse off financially.

On a more optimistic note, only one fifth (27%) of respondents say that today’s children will be less likely to move to a more affluent area than their parents, and just 22% believe they will be less happy with their job and their lives overall. A mere 19% predict that today’s children will be less likely to attend university or go on to further education. But pessimism returns when it comes to comparing the future lives of today’s young people and the current life of their parents: only 6% of respondents feel that they will not be worse off in any way.

In their efforts to help young people reach further education, and improve their life chances and social mobility, some schools have been adopting behavioural science techniques – also known as ‘nudges’ – with the aim of improving academic achievement and attendance. This approach appears to have the support of many members of the public.

With the Education Policy Institute reporting that a large number of local authority-maintained schools are now spending beyond their means, the survey reveals that many now believe it is time to take a new approach to improving children’s education, attendance and grades. Over four in ten (44%) feel that teachers should be allowed to experiment with new approaches, and 26% believe teachers should test new approaches before they are more widely adopted. Only 12% think that teachers should continue as they are, adopting consistent, accepted approaches that are believed to favour academic progress.

“In less than a decade, behavioural science has moved from the fringes to the heart of policy,” says Dr David Halpern, Chief Executive of the Behavioural Insights Team, who delivered the Pro Bono Economics Annual Lecture on Wednesday (March 28) at the Royal Society.

“Successive governments around the world have seen the benefits of introducing a more realistic model of human behaviour to public services. Our own trials in education have shown how interventions as simple and low-cost as a text message can have transformative effects – from increased attendance to improved pass rates. Experimental and behavioural approaches are both unlocking new solutions and improving old ones.”

Behavioural approaches have also helped encourage the much wider use of experimental methods – notably the randomised control trial – in routine policymaking. In the UK, this empiricism has found expression in the ‘What Works’ movement and network, and in the creation of independent What Works centres covering education, crime, early intervention, local economic growth, well-being, better ageing and, most recently, youth social work.

In his Pro Bono Economics lecture, Dr Halpern will explore the dimensions and potential of the What Works movement. In particular, he will examine the cutting-edge power of the behavioural approach when it comes to education and social mobility, while identifying the barriers that still limit its enormous possibilities.

Julia Grant, Chief Executive of Pro Bono Economics, commented: “Whether or not our education system really is better or worse than a generation ago, this survey indicates that many British adults don’t believe that young people are being properly prepared for the world beyond school. No matter whether they are planning on university, another form of further education or the workplace, there is a feeling that limits are being put on their life chances.

“The positive we can take from these findings is that people are willing to put aside their scepticism and embrace more experimental approaches to improving children’s learning, attendance, grades and access to further education.

“Collectively, we need to move away from the orthodoxy of approaches that are supported by little or no evidence of their impact and adopt new, experimental approaches that produce evidence to demonstrate their immediate success or failure.”

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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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