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Education

Big leap in part-time students

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THERE has been a massive 35% increase in part-time undergraduates from Wales, thanks to the Welsh Government’s radical new student support package.

The statistics report on the new student support system for the first time, also showing a 58% increase in the number of postgraduates supported. Welsh post-grads were eligible for dedicated bursaries and support from Welsh universities this year, thanks to Welsh Government funding. Means-tested grants and loans will be introduced from September.

There is no Government-backed living costs grant funding for part-time undergraduates or post-graduate students elsewhere in the UK. Last year, the Education Minister set a goal of a 10% increase in the number of Welsh post-graduate students by the end of this Government’s term.

The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, said: “This is fantastic news and a real vote of confidence in our student support package, the first of its kind in the UK or Europe.

“We have always said that high living costs are the main barrier for students when thinking about university. Our package of support was specifically designed to address these concerns, making it easier for people to study part-time, especially if they have work or family commitments.

“Our radical approach to supporting part-time study is essential to improving social mobility, employment outcomes, access to the professions and delivering on our commitment to lifelong learning.”

Louise Casella, Director of The Open University in Wales, said: “The OU in Wales saw a 49% increase in our October student recruitment last year. This represents hundreds of more people embarking on learning that will transform the lives of their families and communities. We’ve had a 67% increase in students from Wales’ most economically disadvantaged areas, a 57% increase in disabled students and a 30% increase in BME learners.

“I am pleased the Welsh Government is highlighting the impact the new funding system is having on part-time study in Wales. With maintenance grants now available for part-time distance learners as well, flexible study has never been more affordable. This is helping The OU in Wales make studying for a degree a reality for those who may not have considered it in the past.”

Julie Lydon, Chair of Universities Wales, said: “We are delighted to see this increase in the number of students choosing to study part-time in Wales, clearly demonstrating that the new student support and higher education funding package in Wales is working.

“In the coming decade, Wales will face many challenges from the changing workplace and advancements in technology. These changes will mean that Wales will need a more highly skilled workforce.
Flexible learning, such as part-time study, will play a key role in preparing the people, places and businesses of Wales for the future.

“This increase in part-time and postgraduate study shows that, with the new student support and higher education funding package in Wales, we are on the right path to providing people of all ages and backgrounds with opportunities to benefit from higher education.”

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Education

Hwyl yr Haf – Your guide for the summer holidays in Ceredigion

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CERED’S 2019 Hwyl yr Haf programme was launched on July 5 at Gŵyl Aber. It is the essential guide for parents looking for Welsh and bilingual activities for their children in Ceredigion over the school summer holidays.

Cered has been creating Hwyl yr Haf programmes since 2017 to coordinate Welsh language activities during the school summer holidays in the Aberystwyth area, and to raise awareness of the wealth of Welsh language activities that are on the doorstep. This year’s programme will see Hwyl yr Haf include partners in south Ceredigion for the first time to ensure that Hwyl yr Haf actvities are accessible to children, young people and families across the county.

There are a number of new and exciting activities in Hwyl yr Haf 2019 including Ceredigion Museum’s planetarium and Gwersyll yr Urdd Llangrannog’s Activity Days. There are also art, music, drama and dance workshops; Gigs Cantre’r Gwaelod’s Sunday Afternoon Series; mountain biking sessions and much more.

Non Davies is Cered’s Manager. She said: “Over ten thousand people saw our Hwyl yr Haf programme in 2018 and many of the activities sold out. With new partners such as Cardigan Castle, Gwersyll yr Urdd Llangrannog and Llandysul Library on board for the first time, this year we hope that even more Ceredigion families can enjoy a wealth of Welsh language activities over the summer holidays.”

To find Hwyl yr Haf activities search for Cered on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or go to www.cered.cymru/hwyl-yr-haf-19.

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Education

First Minister officially opens Ysgol Henry Richard

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ON THURSDAY , July 11, Ysgol Henry Richard in Tregaron was officially opened by Mark Drakeford AM, First Minister of Wales.

During the opening, Dorian Pugh, Headmaster of Ysgol Henry Richard said: “We have been on an exciting journey in recent years and today we are celebrating solidarity. Today is a milestone for this school. With the new facilities, I am confident that our pupils receive valuable, up-to-date experiences and opportunities. On the teaching route from the smallest, at age three, to the oldest at age sixteen, they are co-working, co-travelling and co-succeeding, now at one campus, in one family. Today our motto was realised, ‘Mewn Llafur mae Elw’ (In labour there is profit) and we stick to the words here now going forward.

“I would like to thank the Welsh government and Ceredigion County Council for the investment in securing a bright future for education in this community. I am today a very proud head of the unique, special school here, Ysgol Henry Richard. One school, one site and one vision.”

Following the completion of a new building to accommodate 120 pupils of primary school age and 30 nursery places on the existing secondary school site, Ysgol Henry Richard now provides education for pupils from 3 to 16 years old on one location.

The 3-16 school first opened its doors to pupils on 1 October 2018 having previously occupied multiple sites including the former Tregaron and Llanddewi Brefi Primary Schools.

Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet member for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning said: “Ysgol Henry Richard is Ceredigion’s third ‘through-age school’ following Ysgol Bro Pedr and Ysgol Bro Teifi and we have increasing evidence of the benefits of co-location of primary and secondary provision. Locating the new primary school facility on the secondary school site has resulted in Ysgol Henry Richard having the ability to share facilities such as the dining hall, gymnasium, technology suite, main hall and science classrooms. Teaching resources can also be deployed across phases allowing subject specialisms and teaching pedagogy to be used flexibly to for pupils of all ages.”

Ysgol Henry Richard officially opened on July 11.

Councillor Miles continued: “The Ysgol Henry Richard project was funded equally by Ceredigion County Council and Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools Fund. We are grateful to the contractors, local authority officers and the school for their work in enabling this complex project whilst maintaining secondary provision on the site throughout. The school is now well placed to provide excellent educational provision and opportunities in Tregaron and the surrounding area for many years to come.”

Mark Drakeford AM, First Minister said: “The remodelling of Ysgol Henry Richard is the final project in Ceredigion’s school programme, receiving £2.5 million from the first wave of funding of the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme. The most important thing about our Programme is that it has been co-designed, co-governed and co-delivered with local authorities and colleges throughout Wales. This means that these projects have been delivered strategically to meet local demand.

“Here in Ceredigion that has certainly been achieved by adopting school settings for nursery through to secondary age children, of which Ysgol Henry Richard is one. What an innovative way to provide continuity and familiarity for pupils, while delivering education in a sustainable way in a rural county.”

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Education

Local students shine at skills competition

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KATIE WAITE and Ben Thomas, from Pembrokeshire and Llanelli, have won a gold medal in the photography and coaching final of a national skills competition.

Backed by the Welsh Government through the European Social Fund, Skills Competition Wales is a series of events held in colleges across the country, designed to celebrate vocational skills and create highly skilled, talented employees for the Welsh workforce.

Katie, 18, who is studying foundation art, competed against 18 other students from across Wales in a photography challenge. The competitors were tasked with creating photography that focused on the theme discovering Wales.

Katie said: “I am over the moon to have won the photography competition.

“’Discovering Wales’ was the theme of the competition and we had to base our photography around the great outdoors, adventure and culture.

“I focused on the cultural aspect of the brief by looking at how the landscape of Wales reflects its culture.

“It was fascinating to see other people’s work at the competition and see how different people can interpret a brief and show their creativity in other aspects.

“I love photography as it can capture a moment in a unique way and shows another way of seeing things.”

Ben, 21, who is studying level two fitness instructing, competed against 17 other students from across Wales in a series of coaching challenges in within one hour. The competitors were tasked with coaching a one on one strength training session, warm up and circuit session.

Ben said: “Competing in the coach competition was a big success for me that has brought me closer to achieving my goal in making a real difference to people.

“Last year I was struggling with both my physical and mental health and turned to fitness. I got a personal trainer, Zak Hearne, who helped me lose three stone in three months which had a hugely positive impact on my mental health.

“Being able to make the same difference with other people is something I want to achieve in the future through personal training.

“For me, it’s all about pushing people to achieve great things and showing people that they can do anything if they put their mind to it and aim high.”

More than 40 competitions are taking place this year, across a wide range of different vocations from forensic science and fashion technology to 3D game and food preparation.

Those who are successful may then go on to be shortlisted for the UK Squad, competing against the world’s most talented young people at the WorldSkills international final in Shanghai, China in 2021.

Minister for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates said: “Skills Competition Wales is such an important event, allowing multi-talented young people the length and breadth of Wales to put their skills to the test, building on their excellence and experiences across various fields with the opportunity to then progress and compete at UK national and international level.

“It’s also an opportunity to show the breadth of talent we have here in Wales and to celebrate the Welsh companies who are nurturing and reaping the rewards of such highly skilled, talented employees. Ensuring Wales has the skills needed for economic success has long been a priority for me personally and for the Welsh Government more broadly and it’s fantastic to see skills acknowledged in this way.

“I would like to say well done to everyone who has competed this year and add my congratulations to Katie and Ben on their brilliant achievement. Best of luck to them in the next stage of the competition and I look forward to seeing them prosper in their future careers.”

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