PUPILS across Wales are set to benefit from a new £2.5 million Welsh Government small and rural schools grant, Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams has announced.
Local authorities have been applying for the funding after the Education Secretary Kirsty Williams revealed the support package in November last year to encourage innovation and support greater school to school working.
This includes using digital technology to combat the issue of professional isolation, providing administrative support in schools where the head teacher has significant teaching commitment, supporting collaboration and federation of schools, and where opportunities exist and there is local demand, using school facilities for community purposes.
Amongst the local authorities to receive funding are Anglesey, which will receive £138,000 to federate some of its schools, and Pembrokeshire, which has been awarded £158,000 to fund a Small School Innovation Project for a network of 15 small and rural schools.
Kirsty Williams said: “Small and rural schools play an important role in our national mission to raise standards and extend opportunities for all our young people.
“We are taking action and providing new funding to help small and rural schools deal with the unique challenges they face, such as small pupil numbers and issues in recruiting head teachers and staff.
“This financial support will benefit pupils, teachers, and the wider community. I want to see rural schools working more formally together and across the country, forming federations and looking into the possibility of sharing buildings with other services to ensure school buildings remain viable.”
WLGA Spokesperson for Education, Councillor Debbie Wilcox (Newport) said: “This funding is great news for small and rural schools. As a former teacher of many years myself, I know how having the best possible learning environment can enhance education and overall experiences. Local education authorities have been working hard to ensure schools are responding to modern challenges and are fully-equipped to provide the best education environment for teachers, pupils and staff, and this investment will help to continue that important work.”
WLGA Deputy Spokesperson for Education, Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn (Ceredigion) said: “Small and rural schools face unique challenges, especially in terms of recruitment and smaller pupil numbers. But they’re more than just schools in the communities that they serve. They are important assets to the community as school buildings and resources are widely used for an array of community purposes. This funding will contribute to ensure that learners and communities alike can continue to reap the benefits of these schools, and also to strengthen the support for Welsh language education provision in our rural communities.”
The Education Secretary also announced plans to consult on strengthening the School Organisation Code in respect of a presumption against the closure of rural schools. For the first time ever there will be a designation of rural schools for that purpose. A 14 week consultation ended on September 30 and responses are currently being analysed.
New lease of life for rescue dog
A DOG that could hardly walk has been given a new lease of life after a 3D printed leg was made for him by CBM, a research company established by UWTSD.
Rescue dog Duke, an Irish retriever, was born with a birth defect in his front right leg and faced having it amputated.
But he is now running around after Swansea printing firm CBM made him a leg similar to blades used by Paralympians.
New owner Phil Brown, from Bristol, said it had been ’life changing’.
When Duke was found abandoned by the Irish Retriever Rescue (IRR) charity in Ireland in 2016, his paw was deformed and he could not walk on all fours.
He was taken to the pound and rehomed with foster owners the Browns, who have since adopted him as their own as they could not bear to part with the loveable pooch.
After a massive fundraising campaign by the charity Duke has been fitted with a state-of-the-art prosthetic by CBM, after narrowly avoiding having his foot amputated.
His new owner said Duke, who is now three, was delighted by his new ’super leg’ which meant he was walking on four paws for the first time.
Mr Brown, who owns other dogs which Duke is enjoying playing with, said: “He had a very tough start in life.
“This is an absolute life changer for him, it really is. He can now walk on it, he can now run at a slow speed.”
Mr Brown said the three-dimensional leg was about a year in a making, and a few months down the line Duke is getting so much use out of it he has already had to have it refurbished.
The leg was entirely printed out of a machine apart from a rubber foot, some Velcro and foam at the top to make it more comfortable for Duke.
CBM product designer Benjamin Alport said creating Duke’s leg was a real challenge for the team, who worked with his new owner and a consultant orthopaedic surgeon on the design.
“We had to go down and assess Duke. We had to consider right down to the thickness of the hairs because you have to take into account the smallest things,” he said.
Kellogg’s backs breakfast clubs
KELLOGG’S is celebrating 20 years of championing breakfast clubs by offering schools across the country the chance to get their hands on £1,000.
To mark the anniversary, the cereal giant will be giving a £1,000 grant away every school day of 2018.
Schools can apply for a Kellogg’s grant by visiting http://bit.ly/2FxJWQn.
The scheme marks the 20th anniversary of the Kellogg’s Breakfast Club programme, which has provided £3 million of investment to schools and 70 million bowls of cereal since 1998.
Research shows that breakfast clubs help with everything from attendance and attainment to alleviating hunger and providing pre-school care.
They are a lifeline for many teachers as 68 per cent of teachers believe pupils would struggle to concentrate in class without their breakfast club, according to a report by Kellogg’s.
Kate Prince, from Kellogg’s, said: “We believe all children should have the opportunity to start the day with breakfast so we’re proud to have spent 20 years supporting so many schools across the UK.
“The £1,000 we’re offering in 2018 underpins our pride and continuing commitment to our breakfast club programme.”
Kellogg’s currently has 3000 schools signed up to its network, offering them a range of resources and provisions to help them operate sustainable and effective breakfast clubs.
Former minister lectures on Facebook and democracy
THE EVER increasing influence of social media on democracy will be the focus for a public lecture at Aberystwyth University on Thursday, March 22.
Facebook, The Media and Democracy will be delivered by Former Welsh Government Minister Professor Leighton Andrews of the Cardiff Business School.
Hosted by The Global Communications Research Centre and the Aberystwyth Law School, the lecture takes place at 4:10pm in the Main Hall of the Department of International Politics.
Facebook now has over two billion users across the globe and owns other key communication applications including Instagram and WhatsApp, giving it unprecedented market power.
It is a major player in shaping whole societies through its role in media dissemination, civic organization and as an electoral platform.
Professor Gary Rawnsley, Director of the Global Communications Research Centre and Professor of Public Diplomacy, said: “We are looking forward to co-hosting the lecture with Aberystwyth Law School on such a hot topic. Facebook is constantly changing the face of politics, engagement and democracy at an unprecedented speed and arguments for and against regulation are evolving on a daily basis.
“The role of social media is changing the future of society and democracy, but following the recent controversy regarding ‘Fake News’ in the USA and UK, its dominance is under challenge from regulators and law-makers. The lecture will raise regulatory questions around big data and the internet platforms.”
Professor Leighton Andrews will be introduced by Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University.
Professor Andrews is now Professor of Practice in Public Service Leadership and Innovation at Cardiff Business School.
He served as Minister for Education and Skills and Minister for Public Services in Carwyn Jones’s Welsh Labour Governments between 2009 and 2016, and Deputy Minister in Rhodri Morgan’s One Wales Government from 2007 until 2009, and was the Assembly Member for the Rhondda from 2003 until 2016.
Prior to his election to the National Assembly in 2003, Professor Andrews had a successful career in the private, public and voluntary sectors, and was the BBC’s Head of Public Affairs in London from 1993-1996, during its Charter Renewal campaign.
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