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Plaid Cymru Education Minister ‘disappointed’

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Flagship Phase: Welcomed report

Flagship Phase: Welcomed report

RESEARCHERS at Cardiff University and the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) have published results that appear to suggest overall foundation phase results have improved.

Commissioned by the Welsh Government to assess, as they refer to it, their ‘flagship’ Foundation Phase, the results, which took 3 years to evaluate, show, say the Welsh Government, improvements in educational achievements along with their well being and engagement to learning.

According to the Welsh Government, the release of the report showed that:

– Pupils in the Foundation Phase are more likely to achieve Level 4 or above in Key Stage 2 English

– Schools using high levels of Foundation Phase pedagogies are more likely to achieve the Foundation Phase Indicator

– Greater use of Foundation Phase pedagogies leads to increased pupil engagement and wellbeing

– The Foundation Phase improves school attendance across the board and delivers improved attainment, including for those pupils eligible for free school meals.

Practitioners and key people involved in the delivery of Foundation Phase believe it is having a positive impact on children and learning and that it delivers improvements in literacy and numeracy

Speaking about the findings was Welsh Government Education Minister, Huw Lewis, who said: “With the introduction of the Foundation Phase we have moved to a new method of learning for our 3 to 7 year olds, one that is very much focussed on learning by doing and finding different ways of solving problems. I very much welcome this report.

“It follows a three year, comprehensive and credible research programme led by Cardiff University and WISERD and tells us that the Foundation Phase really is delivering for our youngest learners, in terms of attainment, attendance, well being and engagement.”

He went on to discuss future plans, saying: “Of course we must keep working hard to ensure the Foundation Phase delivers the very best for our youngest learners and I welcome the report’s 29 recommendations around how we can further develop and enhance this vital curriculum area.

“The recommendations apply not just to Welsh Government, but also to Estyn, our Regional Consortia, local authorities head teachers, practitioners and others, and I look forward to us working collaboratively to deliver the very highest standards of learning for our youngest pupils.”

Plaid Shadow Education Secretary, Simon Thomas, whilst welcoming the results of the findings, warned the Welsh Government not to cut back the funding for the Foundation Phase, saying: “It is crucial that the Welsh Government does not cut corners in its implementation of the Foundation Phase. The evaluation report shows if we are to reap the social and economic benefits of investing in early years’ education the Foundation Phase has to be properly funded and well-implemented.

“The full implementation of the Foundation Phase is very expensive. Capital investment is needed to improve school buildings; high adult to child ratios need to be in place; and investment is needed in teachers’ Continuous Professional Development.”

He was also cautious as to whether or not the Foundation Phase was raising standards in deprived areas, stating: “The report finds no evidence that the Foundation Phase has yet had an impact on raising the attainment of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is disappointing. The Party of Wales will be demanding answers from the Welsh Government why this is the case.”

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Education

Canned Food UK & Tata Steel launch package design challenge

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Canned Food UK (CFUK) and Tata Steel in Europe launch the Packaging Design Challenge this week on April 24 2020.   

The challenge encourages children aged 15 and under to design and create their own pack which demonstrates packaging’s important role in protecting our food and drink.   

To take part entrants first create their ‘product’, a sponge in a freezer bag with 200ml of water and secondly, a pack for their product using materials otherwise destined for the recycling bin which have been cleaned such as cereal boxes, milk cartons or loo roll holders.  

Entrants are invited to send photos or a video to CFUK by tagging Instagram posts with @cannedfooduk or #packagingdesignchallenge or emailing competitions@cannedfood.co.uk.  

Entries should show how their packs are decorated, which parts are recyclable and if their pack survives the drop test – dropping their pack from head height to see if the product leaks.   

A winner will be selected by a panel of experts for a chance to win £100 in Amazon vouchers and the closing date is midnight on Monday 22 May 2020.  

The challenge launches with a live session on Canned Food UK’s Facebook page at 11am on Friday 24 April with Nicola Jones, Tata Steel’s Packaging Recycling Education manager, who normally visits schools nationwide delivering interactive workshops that showcase the benefits of packaging. 

“Lots of families would have been returning from the Easter break this week and I would have been in classrooms talking about how steel is made and why we use packaging. I wanted to continue to share these resources and the Packaging Design Challenge was the perfect opportunity,” comments Nicola.  

“It’s a straightforward activity that children can do with minimal adult supervision, that’s away from a computer screen, and at the same time, learn about how packaging protects our food and drink, reduces waste and how it’s recycled.” 

“I think the challenge will showcase the effectiveness of packaging, just like the can which has great shelf appeal, durability and of course, is infinitely recyclable,” adds Robert Fell, director at CFUK and competition judge. “I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s entries, especially if they survive the drop test.” 

For further information on the challenge visit cannedfood.co.uk/packagingdesignchallenge or see entries as they come in on the CFUK’s FacebookTwitter and Instagram channels.  

-ends- 

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Strictly Cymru brings dancing a-plenty to 2020

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Disabled people from all over Wales have waltzed into 2020 for Strictly Cymru – the country’s renowned inclusive dance competition.

Run by charity Leonard Cheshire, in partnership with the national governing body Paradance UK, the competition has seen dancers in both inclusive and wheelchair-specific categories compete in six heats across South Wales, in preparation for the grand final on 6 June. Strictly Cymru is now in its third year.

Winning in the inclusive categories at the Carmarthen heat on 17 January were Coleg Sir Gar students Kieron, Toby, Thomas, and Max, as well as Richard, who came independently from Coleshill Day Centre in Llanelli and wowed the judges with his Michael Jackson inspired fast feet and moonwalk. A few days later, Rebecca, Chloe, and Anesha from Heronsbridge School lifted the trophy at the Bridgend heat on 21 January.

Gower College students Daniel and Carys wowed the judges with their synchronised dancing at the Cardiff heat, while Coleg Gwent student Matthew secured a place on the final in the inclusive heat held in Newport last week.

Meanwhile, in the wheelchair dance category, dancers Chad and Ben took gold in Carmarthen and Bridgend respectively. The Carmarthen heat rang with the sound of Chad’s catchphrase of “Absolutely fantastic!”

Then, the fifth heat in Cardiff saw the youngest person to take part in Strictly to date, five-year-old Inga, win in the wheelchair category, before Robin John won the final wheelchair heat in Newport after being inspired by his partner Dianne, who was highly commended in last year’s competition grand final.

Dance instructors from Paradance UK also took the participants, who came from schools the community and Leonard Cheshire services in the area, through their paces ahead of each dance-off to give everyone the best chance at reaching the final.

Chad said: “It has been a really great two days and I’ve enjoyed getting to know new people and learn tango. I’m looking forward to the final.”

Robin John, winning at Newport, said: “It’s absolutely wonderful, I’ve tried before and lost, but it feels on a whole different planet to win a heat! I’m looking forward to the final and don’t mind which genre of dance I get, I can adapt to most things.”

Ruth Jones, MP for Newport West, was a judge at the heat there. Ruth said: “I wasn’t sure what to expect beforehand, but it was amazing. As you walked into the room the enthusiasm hit you like a wave. It was so hard to choose a winner because they were all brilliant in their own way, everybody did the maximum they could possibly do.”

Alan Dear, Head of Theatre and Arts at Newport Live, helped support the Newport heat and said: “It is the most joyful thing I have done in years.”

The heats were open to people of all ages and abilities and the overall winners of the competition will be crowned in the Ffwrnes theatre in Llanelli on 6 June 2020.  There they will receive the coveted Strictly glitter ball trophy.

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Education

Lee Waters in School Council Summit

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LOCAL Member of the Senedd, Lee Waters has held the third Llanelli School Council Summit in the Welsh Parliament for secondary school pupils from across the constituency.

Over 70 pupils from schools right across the area visited the Senedd to learn how the Welsh Parliament works and take part in debates in the old Assembly debating chamber.

Pupils chose to debate lowering the voting age and banning diesel cars. They also had the opportunity to question the Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething about their concerns and on his experiences as a Minister in the Welsh Government.

Lee Waters MS said

“Every year since becoming elected I’ve invited the school councils from the secondary schools across Llanelli to the Senedd for a School Council Summit. I’m really pleased that the event has grown and grown.”

“The pupils enthusiasm and grasp of the issues was really impressive, and it was great to hear their thoughts on some really important issues.”

“I was delighted to give pupils a chance to discuss their ideas with the Health Minister Vaughan Gething, debate issues that are important to them, and get practical careers advice learn from past pupils at their schools who now work in Welsh public life.”

“I want to show that pupils from Llanelli can succeed at whatever they choose in life, and get them involved in Welsh democracy.”

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