GLOBAL tech firm Fujitsu has praised the forward-thinking vision of south west Wales as it opened its new Education Innovation Hub at Swansea University’s £450 million Bay Campus.
The technology-focused hub is the latest addition to the university’s School of Management, following hotly on the heels of The Bevan Commission, who moved its base from Cardiff to the Fabian Way campus last month.
A host of guests from across academia, industry, health, education and government gathered at the Bay Campus to see the ribbon cut at the prestigious education hub, which is supported by the Talent Bank Further Education programme.
Talent Bank, which is led by Gower College in a partnership with Institute of Life Science at Swansea University’s Medical School, is a new bespoke education and skills programme specifically designed to support the evolving life and health science sector in South West Wales.
The project is being driven by Gower College’s Beverley Wilson- Smith.
Talent Bank, which is part of the ARCH partnership, also announced the start of its Fujitsu and Intel Young Ambassador Programme at the opening of the hub. Beverley said: “We are delighted that Talent Bank can welcome such high profile companies as Fujitsu and Intel into our work. The opening of the Innovation Hub here at Swansea University is a key milestone for Talent Bank in that their ambassador programme will help us emerge our students in the world of innovation, industry and next generation tech.
“Fujitsu and Intel recognise the rising demand for STEM subject students across all sectors and their pilot industry-led programme is designed for selected students and focuses on digital and emerging technologies and innovation in order to grow local talent and skill supply across the south west Wales region.
“Students across south west Wales will be able to get hands-on, world-class exposure to industry experts from across the UK.
“There are a few remaining places available on the ambassador programme. If you are 14- to 16-years-old and currently in school and interested in technology and computer science, there is still time to be part of this unique opportunity.
“There is a programme of monthly meet-ups hosted at the new Fujitsu Innovation Hub which will support youngsters in their GCSE Computer Science studies and are also an opportunity to showcase emerging technologies and all available career options.”
Talent Bank, which is being delivered through the ARCH partnership, is a full-time education programme for young people aged 16+ wanting to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) A-levels or vocational and technical qualifications.
ARCH (A Regional Collaboration for Health) is a unique partnership between Swansea University, ABMU and the Hywel Dda University Health Board, who have come together to improve the health, wealth and well-being of the people of South West Wales.
ARCH board member and School of Management Dean Professor Marc Clement, who opened the hub this week, said: “As well as creating a healthcare system fit for the 21st century, the ARCH partners are leading the way in ensuring the creation of the next generation of doctors, nurses, healthcare staff, scientists, researchers and innovators. The Talent Bank will provide a dynamic learning experience which will help deliver these goals.
“The School of Management is delighted to welcome such as prestigious partner as Fujitsu to the Bay Campus.
“Relationships such as this between ARCH and Fujitsu and Intel will ensure local students can be immersed in an innovation-rich environment, working with leading industry, health and life science partners.”
Professor Clement, who is Executive Chair for the Institute of Life Science and vice-president of Swansea University, added: “This really is pioneering stuff, and now students will be able to benefit from unprecedented access to the world-leading state-of-the-art resources the Fujitsu Innovation Hub will bring.
“It will also provide them with one of the most advanced technological learning spaces in the region and will inspire and create a new generation of talent for the 21st century.
“The brand power Fujitsu and Intel bring to the table and the opportunities they present for our young learners in South West Wales is invaluable.
“We should not under-estimate the forward thinking of the ARCH ethos and what Talent Bank can help deliver. Talent Bank is a vital part of realising the importance of the life science and health sector in this area.
“Collaboration with such big-name firms as Fujitsu and Intel, along with the two university health boards and the university, will provide Talent Bank learners with a unique and ideal learning environment.”
The Fujitsu programme already supports 10 schools, colleges and universities across the UK, by setting up Innovation Hubs to equip these establishments with high performance solutions and support digital skills development. The initiative aims to enhance teaching and unleash students’ potential by putting technology at the heart of education.
Ash Merchant, Director of Education at Fujitsu, helped open the hub this week. He said: “The Talent Bank is vital to transforming the way students learn.
“A recent survey by Fujitsu revealed that around a fifth of consumers believe digital education should be part of the modern education curriculum, which points towards a real need to see educational establishments focus on an embedded digital journey. Contemporary models such as the Talent Bank will play a crucial role in making this happen – and Fujitsu, supported by our partners, is committed to supporting them in bringing their vision to life.
“We are incredibly excited to further grow our commitment to putting technology at the heart of education by adding Swansea to our 2016 Young Ambassador Programme and opening the Innovation Hub in Swansea University.
“Passion goes a long way; however, passion is sometimes not enough – education needs collaboration and support from the industry to really support the right skills development for young people, to lead to future employment opportunity, and that’s what the Ambassador Programme is all about.”
Fujitsu Director Joe Durran said: “By using technology and harnessing innovation, we can redesign the future of healthcare. ARCH is an exciting vehicle to help deliver this.”
Virtual graduation for Class of 2020
UWTSD is looking forward to hosting a series of online events to celebrate the academic success of the ‘Class of 2020’.
With formal degree ceremonies due to be held at a later date, UWTSD organised a series of digital celebrations that will take place on Tuesday, July 21, Wednesday, July 22, and Thursday, July 2.
Providing students with an opportinuty to celebrate their academic and personal achievements, the digital events included video messages from the Vice Chancellor, the Provosts, Universty Fellows as well as staff and fellow students.
“The Class of 2020 digital celebrations allowed us to come together – as family, friends and members of the University community – to mark our students’ academic achievements,” says Professor Medwin Hughes DL, UWTSD Vice Chancellor.
“These have been very difficult times for us all and yet students have succeeded, and these digital events help us to celebrate that academic achievement. Indeed, I would like to thank our students for the way in which they’ve responded to this pandemic and the way in which they’ve worked with the University. These celebrations were an opportunity for us to wish our students well for the future and to celebrate their hard work and success.”
Gwilym Dyfri Jones, Provost of the University’s Carmarthen and Lampeter campuses, said: “These virtual celebrations were an opportunity for the University to congratulate its Class of 2020 and to show that it is thinking of each and every one of the graduates at these unprecedented time,.
“It is also an opportunity for us to share our gratitude with the students for their valued contributions to the life of the university and its various campuses during these last few years,” he adds.
“We are proud of our graduates’ achievements and relished celebrating their successes with them in a virtual environment next week.”
Professor Ian Walsh, Provost of UWTSD’s Swansea and Cardiff campuses is immensely proud of the graduates’ achievements.
“During this difficult final term, the students of UWTSD have demonstrated the true meaning of the phrase ‘the best of us’,” says Professor Walsh. “It is fitting that the University takes a moment to celebrate the striking success of the class of 2020.
“Their hard won achievements demonstrate that this generation of UWTSD graduates possess all the necessary resourcefulness, resilience and determination to overcome the most challenging circumstances. In the process they have made their families, friends and lecturers extremely proud.”
James Mills, Group President of the Students’ Union at UWTSD also acknowledges the unprecedented challenges faced by the Class of 2020 and echoes the pride felt by all at UWTSD: “On behalf of everyone here at your Students’ Union we are incredibly proud of the hard work and success of our students over the past few months under incredibly difficult and challenging circumstances and adapted well to online learning.
“We also look forward to welcoming our students back in the next year for their graduation ceremonies on their respective campuses,” he adds.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, UWTSD – like all other Universities – had to respond swiftly to the lockdown restrictions with teaching moving on-line and celebrations such as graduation, being postponed.
However, UWTSD has already announced that its campuses will be open and ready to start teaching at the beginning of the new academic year, subject to government guidelines. The University is planning a blended delivery pattern for its programmes in Wales which means a combination of online delivery and on-campus teaching, when it is appropriate to do so.
The University is working to a detailed plan which anticipates various scenarios around the coronavirus context and government directives, much in keeping with the Welsh Government’s traffic light system.
It aims to ensure the safe return of students and staff to the campuses whilst also enabling as much face-to-face teaching as possible in order to ensure that students can enjoy an academic and social programme.
BAME advisor appointed to education post
PROFESSOR Charlotte Williams OBE has been appointed by the Welsh
Government to lead a new working group to advise on and improve the
teaching of themes relating to Black, Asian and minority ethnic
communities and experiences across all parts of the school curriculum.
Professor Williams accepted an invitation from the Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, to chair the new ‘Communities, contributions and cynefin: BAME experiences and the new curriculum’ working group.
In 2007, Professor Williams was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for services to ethnic minorities and equal opportunities in Wales.
Professor Williams said: “I’m delighted and honoured to be leading the working group in advancing this step-change towards integrating Black and minority ethnic history, identity and culture into the everyday learning of every child in Wales. The goal is that the new curriculum will become a shining example of resourcing and enabling broad engagement in learning and teaching with BAME contributions past and present.
“The challenge is to ensure that Black and minority ethnic peoples have a presence across the new Welsh curriculum so that within all of the Areas of Learning and Experience we can hear the sound of their voices, know of their experience, history and contributions, past and present.
“This requires appropriate resourcing because we want all teachers in Wales to be able to rethink their materials and feel confident in the ways of delivering them to reflect this presence. It’s a very exciting prospect. In this way, our curriculum in Wales will ultimately be reflective of our common experience of a vibrant, inclusive, multicultural society.
“We have a rich history in Wales, built on difference and diversity.
“This isn’t about adding an element of Black and minority ethnic history here and there in the new curriculum, but about reimagining learning and teaching across all the elements of the curriculum so that it reflects a Wales that is, and always has been, ethnically diverse, internationalist in its outlook and progressive in its aspirations.”
The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “Our diversity is one of our strengths as a nation and our many histories have combined to shape Wales today.
“I’m delighted Professor Williams will be leading this important piece of work and I look forward to seeing the group’s recommendations.
“The working group will complete a review of learning resources currently available to support the teaching of themes relating to BAME communities and ‘cynefin’ across all parts of the curriculum. The group will also review associated professional learning opportunities and resources. The group will be closely aligned to the review of Welsh history by Estyn, the education inspectorate.
“The Welsh word ‘cynefin’ loosely translates as ‘habitat’ or ‘place’, but also conveys a sense that all human interactions are strongly influenced and determined by both personal and collective experiences, such as through stories or music.”
The group will present their initial findings in the autumn, and a full report in the spring.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “I’m very pleased Professor Williams has agreed to chair the working group.
“I look forward to receiving the group’s recommendations on learning resources to support the teaching of themes relating to BAME communities.
“Wales is made up of a multitude of stories. We must understand and analyse our own cynefin, and make those connections across our communities, nation and the world. It isn’t just about history as a subject, it’s language, literature, geography, and so much more.”
The group will oversee the development of new learning resources in advance of the phased introduction of the new Curriculum for Wales in 2022.
Summer Reading Challenge underway
THE WELSH GOVERNMENT launched the Summer Reading Challenge on Friday, July 17.
The annual Challenge aims to get children between the ages of 4 and 11 to read 6 books over the summer holidays.
This year’s challenge sees a shift to a new bilingual digital platform, supported by library e-lending services, online events and links to existing digital resources. The challenge includes both English and Welsh-medium books.
The theme of the challenge this year is ‘Silly Squad’ and will celebrate funny books, happiness and laughter. Children taking part in the challenge will join the Silly Squad, an adventurous team of animals who “love to have a laugh and get stuck into all sorts of funny books!”
Last year, more than 37,000 children from across Wales took part in the challenge. Over 3,000 children joined libraries as new members, and 33,000 children took part in library events.
Wales’ Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, said: “As a book lover myself, I know what a great pleasure it is to read over the holidays.
“Each year, thousands of children join libraries because of the Summer Reading Challenge, which is a really good way to develop reading skills, discover new authors and gain a lifelong passion for books.”
The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said: “I’m really pleased the Welsh Government can support libraries with this year’s challenge. The scheme has become an annual event for many children, who look forward to taking part every year.
“I’d like to thank all of the library staff involved in making the Summer Reading Challenge such a success in Wales.”
Nicola Pitman Chair of the Society of Chief Librarians Wales, said: “Libraries in Wales now have their biggest ever range of eBooks, comics and magazines to download, and this year’s Summer Reading Challenge is set to really help young readers and parents maximise opportunities to engage with fun topics and stories.
“Click & Collect services are also coming into place across the country to help access library books safely during this time. With a new-look website offering lots of great resources, ideas and incentives, we love how easy it is to sign up online and get started. We’re looking forward to everyone getting silly and joining the Summer Reading Challenge squad.”
Karen Napier, Chief Executive Officer of The Reading Agency, said: “We’re thrilled to be developing a bilingual Welsh/ English Summer Reading Challenge digital platform, which will be ready for families to enjoy from mid-July.
“The Reading Agency is committed to ensuring the proven power of reading is accessible for all. I’m looking forward to public libraries and families in Wales taking part in the Challenge and having a seriously silly summer!”
Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, Helgard Krause, said: “Nurturing and encouraging reading is more important at this time than ever before. Research clearly shows that picking up a book is not only good for our mental health and wellbeing – it also helps to strengthen and reinforce children’s language and educational skills. Good luck and enjoyment to everyone involved in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.”
Further information can be found on the Summer Reading Challenge website.
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