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£18m to support children and young people with additional learning needs

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NEW funding to support children and young people with Additional Learning Needs has been announced by Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language.

£18m will be made available to provide extra support for children and young people with ALN who’ve been affected by the pandemic and to help educational settings as learners move to the new ALN system from this month.

£10m of the funding will be used to support learners with ALN affected by the pandemic and to improve their wellbeing. During the pandemic, many disabled children and young people, including learners with ALN, continue to experience a negative impact on their mental health and difficulties accessing education.

The funding will add to existing support for ALN learners, such as intensive learning support and speech and language therapy. The funding can also be used to provide extra resources to target the impacts of the pandemic, such as mental health support and tailored support to help with attendance.

£8m will be allocated to schools, nurseries, local authorities and Pupil Referral Units to move learners from the old Special Educational Needs (SEN) system to the new ALN system, as the roll-out of the Additional Learning Needs Act continues.

The new ALN system, being rolled out over three years, will ensure children and young people with ALN are identified quickly and their needs are met. The Act makes provision for new individual development plans, designed to put the views of learners at the heart of the decision-making process, alongside those of their parents or carers.

Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles said:

“We are determined to deliver a fully inclusive education system in Wales – a system where additional needs are identified early and addressed quickly, and where all children and young people are supported to thrive in their education.

“Schools and nurseries are already doing a fantastic job of supporting their learners, but we know they need more resources to do this. That’s why I’m announcing this additional investment to support learners to overcome the effects of the pandemic and prevent the entrenchment of inequalities on their education, employment opportunities, their health and wellbeing.”

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Education

Aberystwyth academic helping to improve British wrestling

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A LECTURER in Film Theory and Practice from Aberystwyth University is contributing towards a ‘code of better practice’ for British wrestling.

Dr Thomas Alcott from the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies has been invited by the All-Party Group on Wrestling at the UK Parliament to participate in a conference on the topic later this month.

The group – which includes MPs from across the political spectrum – recently led an inquiry and published the findings in April last year.

The cross party group reviewed regulation, funding, safeguarding and wellbeing in wrestling, and sought to find ways to better support and regulate the industry.

Dr Alcott’s doctoral research, which explored the relationship between audiences, stars and industry within the world of Professional Wrestling, was one of the resources used and quoted in the report.

Organised by the groups of MPs, Loughborough University and wrestling training school Playfight, the conference will be attended by academics, wrestlers, promoters and coaches.

It is intended to provide an opportunity for training and discussion, and lead to a safer and more inclusive environment.

Dr Alcott told The Ceredigion Herald: “For over a century, wrestling has been a popular form of culture and entertainment. However, a lack of clarity on whether it sits within the sector of sport or theatre has led to complexities about how the industry is governed and regulated.

“The inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wrestling is the first official analysis and intervention in the wrestling industry for many decades. The conference that follows the publication of the group’s report will provide an opportunity to discuss a guide of better practice to improve the industry for the future, for the benefit of both performers and fans.”

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Education

New Japanese partnership to boost climate change research at Aberystwyth University

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ABERYSTWYTH University has signed up to a new partnership with a Japanese university in a boost to its climate change research.

The new memorandum of understanding with Ritsumeikan University includes exchanging research and joint investment in cutting-edge technology.

As part of the partnership, the two universities are collaborating on major projects studying climate change in Mexico and Japan.

In southern Mexico, a joint team will investigate records of past climate change in the region and its role in the collapse of the Classic Mayan civilisation.

Professor Sarah Davies, Head of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University said:

“It’s a pleasure to confirm our commitments with this new memorandum which builds on a long-standing research relationship between our two institutions. These projects will make an important contribution to our understanding of climate change, and its role in the development of human civilisation.

“Together with our Japanese partners and the support of Aberystwyth University and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, we have made a significant investment in our X-ray Fluorescence core scanner. This is a resource of both UK and international importance, enabling very high-resolution geochemical analysis of sediment cores to reconstruct climate variability. These joint investments in instrumentation are an important boost to our future research work.”

Professor Takeshi Nakagawa from Ritsumeikan University commented:

“We are delighted to forge even closer ties with our partners at Aberystwyth University as we conduct ground-breaking research together. The joint research on climate change is a very exciting opportunity to unlock some of humanity’s secrets and better understand our world.”

As part of the partnership, Professor Takeshi Nakagawa and Dr Ikuko Kitaba from Ritsumeikan University are visiting Aberystwyth until 14th November.

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Education

Aberystywth University launches AI Hub to explore decade’s most critical technology

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ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY has launched a new hub to study artificial intelligence in response to a technology that presents some of the greatest opportunities this decade to transform society.
The Hub involves academics from across the University collaborating in areas such as robotics and machine learning, astrophysics, medical treatment, drug discovery and future foods through a series of workshops, conferences, and collaborations.
In recent years, the University has been involved in a number of high-profile projects involving the technology. In June 2022, it worked with Dŵr Cymru Welsh Waterhttps://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2022/06/title-252896-en.htm on an artificial intelligence system that helped monitor the reliability of water treatment processes.
The University has also developed an apphttps://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2021/01/title-239859-en.html that helps recovering stroke patients exercise more and looked at how the technology can be applied to exploring the weather in spacehttps://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2021/02/title-240437-en.html.
At a recent symposium hosted by Aberystwyth University academics discussed subjects such as artificial intelligence’s uses within healthcare, the arts and storing and categorising key information.
In the coming years, the University will build on its expertise in applying artificial intelligence to space and data science, engineering, intelligent robotics and healthcare.
A series of sandpit events will be held to bring academics from across all disciplines at the University together to share ideas and start new projects, with a public conference planned for 2023.
Professor Colin McInnes, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Knowledge Exchange and Innovation, said: “Artificial intelligence poses one of the greatest opportunities – and challenges – for the world this decade. These are not simply technological, but will impact upon society, the economy, culture and human rights. I am delighted that Aberystwyth University is taking a lead in examining the impact of AI across all these dimensions and how they will interact with each other.”
Professor Reyer Zwiggelaar, Head of the AI Hub, said: “These technologies will push the boundaries of scientific discovery: from the exploration of Mars’ surface and quantifying the environmental impact of global warming to identifying new health biomarkers, creating future foods and understanding of how living organisms sense, move and interact with their natural environments.
“This is why we established the AI Hub: to collaborate and explore the full potential of the technology. It will help fuel innovation across society and something that will change our lives for the better, across the country and the world. We want to be at the forefront of this exciting field.”

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