MEMBERS of the Senedd voted to pass the National Curriculum Bill’s final text, meaning the Curriculum for Wales will now be introduced in 2022.
Throughout the debate on its final stage, which took place on Tuesday (March 9), opposition members praised Wales’ Education Minister, Kirsty Williams. Members from all sides saluted her patience and diligence in guiding a significant piece of legislation onto the statute book.
Even members who disagreed with the Bill’s content and opposed its passage highlighted the Minister’s personal contribution and commitment to creating Wales’ first national Curriculum.
A NATIONAL MISSION
The Bill was the subject of intensive scrutiny and broad consultation.
Speaking in the Senedd, Mrs Williams said the Bill’s passage was ’a national mission’.
“It would have been simpler to cook up plans in Cathays Park in a back office and issue a ‘take it or leave it’ offer,” the Education Minister said.
She continued: “But our combined efforts with teachers, academics, parents, and many organisations here and abroad is worth so much more because of that ‘national mission’ spirit.”
Kirsty Williams paid a personal tribute to Labour MS Lynn Neagle, Chair of the Children’s and Young Persons’ Committee.
Under Lynn Neagle’s leadership, the Committee rigorously scrutinised the Bill and made a series of recommendations in its text.
Of the Labour backbencher, Kirsty Williams said: “I conclude by thanking Lynne Neagle for her tough, astute, tenacious, sometimes bloody-mindedness in her approach to this legislation. I mean that as a compliment, Lynne.
“As I said earlier, the results of the committee’s work have made this a better Bill.”
She had similarly warm words for her Conservative opposite number, Suzy Davies.
Mrs Williams acknowledged: “She has worked incredibly hard on this Bill, and I know that she’s been fully committed to the scrutiny process. As I said in opening my comments today, I think we have a better Bill due to the CYPE committee’s efforts. I have gone to great lengths to try and respond positively to the cross-party report that the Committee published to try and meet those aspirations.”
Like Mrs Williams, Suzy Davies steps down as an MS in May. She was unable to attend the debate.
Despite the Minister’s warm words, the new Curriculum’s journey to the statute book has not been without controversy.
Activists railed against the Curriculum’s Religion Values and Ethics element and its focus on Welsh language teaching’s importance to all of Wales’ pupils. The inclusion of Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in the Curriculum provoked vituperative responses from a small group of parents. They opposed children receiving what they’ve claimed will be inappropriately explicit sexual education.
Senior Policy Researcher for NSPCC Cymru/Wales, Dr Sarah Witcombe-Hayes says: “The strength of support for mandatory relationships and sexuality education to be included in the new Curriculum for Wales by leading child protection experts and charities highlights what a game-changer this is.
“The changes are long overdue, but in passing this Bill Senedd members are helping to protect children and young people from abuse – making sure every child and young person in Wales can access high quality RSE that is relevant, sensitive and appropriate to their own capacities and needs.
“It will help all learners understand their rights to safe, healthy and fulfilling relationships throughout their lives, and schools must now be supported and fully resourced to deliver inclusive and high quality RSE from September 2022.”
Regarding Welsh Language teaching and RSE, those with genuine concerns had those worries preyed upon to grandstanding political effect by fringe political movements, such as Ukip and Abolish the Assembly (sic.)
Speaking for the latter group, Gareth Bennett said: “The downgrading of English teaching in the interest of immersion in Welsh is a sinister development. It will surely disadvantage Welsh schoolchildren who are not from a background of speaking Welsh at home.”
Dr Felix Aubel, a noted controversialist, said: “UKIP would divert millions of pounds by abolishing the legal requirement to forcibly impose the Welsh language on people.”
Like Abolish, UKIP will campaign on a platform of abolishing Welsh parliamentary democracy.
Those organisations’ concerns on Welsh language education ignore the fact Welsh is the national language of Wales. Every credible educational study underlines how children benefit from bilingual education.
HISTORY TEACHING CONCERNS PLAID
On Tuesday, further and concerted criticism of the new Curriculum came from Plaid Cymru.
Perturbed by the absence of Welsh history’s teaching, Plaid’s Sian Gwenllian announced the party would vote against the Bill in its final stage.
Plaid’s Shadow Education Minister said that, although her party supported the Bill’s direction of travel: “Plaid Cymru argued for the inclusion of two other mandatory elements that could also contribute towards creating that social, far-reaching transformation that we want to see, namely the history of Wales in all of its diversity, including black and people of colour history, and environmental education, including climate change.
Cadarnhau lleoliad ysgol ardal newydd yn Nyffryn Aeron
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.
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.
Location of new Aeron Valley area school confirmed
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.
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.
Ceredigion shortlisted for Youth Excellence Awards 2021
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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