WELSH CONSERVATIVES have raised serious concerns over enrolment in further education and called on Labour Ministers to ‘stop the decline before it’s too late’. However, a spokesperson for the Welsh government hit back by stating that the Tories had a mess to clear up which they had created.
Local Assembly Member and Shadow Minister for Education Angela Burns said: “Recent numbers from StatsWales show that the number of Further Education (FE) enrolments during 2013-14 fell compared to 2012-13 by 4.1pc. But even more worryingly, the number of people from deprived backgrounds that enrolled during the same period decreased by 2.6pc.
“People living in poverty need education and skills to help attain a better standard of living and contribute to our economy. Indeed, Welsh Government say that one of the overarching policy goals in education is to break the link between deprivation and attainment. Given the swingeing cuts to Further Education introduced this year by the Labour Government I am deeply concerned that there will be a further drop in these numbers in future academic years.
“Our Further Education Institutions have been remarkably adept at weathering the storms that have blown through Education in recent years but the drop in admissions and the cuts in funding are going to put our Colleges under immense pressure.”
Mrs Burns added: “Labour must stop the decline before it’s too late. Such a significant fall in FE enrolment raises extremely serious questions, particularly within deprived areas. Labour claim they’re committed to closing the attainment gap – yet these figures confirm they’re failing spectacularly. It’s in deprived areas where the most significant support is required to encourage further education, advance skills and boost jobs growth. Since they (Labour) took over the reins of our education system in 1999, standards have declined dramatically.
“We need a swift strategy that deals with the problem and guarantees that Labour’s huge FE cuts are not hitting the frontline and causing fatal damage to our FE institutions.”
Hitting back, a spokesperson for the Education Minister Huw Lewis said of the comments: “The Tories need to spend more time fixing the mess they have created in English Further Education before they start criticising Welsh colleges. Just this week the National Audit Office published a report on the financial health of Further Education in England which makes for pretty worrying reading. Under the Tories watch half of all colleges in England are experiencing financial difficulty and the whole system is at risk of meltdown.
“Despite the £1.4bn the UK Government has cut from the Welsh budget since 2010, we have protected FE provision for 16-18 year olds here in Wales and gone beyond our statutory duty to protect provision for 19 year olds as well. We have also maintained funding for Traineeships and are continuing to fund Apprenticeships for 16-24 year olds as well as all-age Higher Level Apprenticeships. We’ve also protected the deprivation grant we give to colleges and school sixth forms to support the education of learners from deprived backgrounds.
“FE institutions in Wales have anticipated that UK funding reductions were likely to have an effect on their budgets and adapted accordingly. There are some very good examples where colleges have generated privately funded income through engagement with local businesses. Being responsive to employers’ needs and building on good practice is now more important than ever.”
Minister visits to celebrate new curriculum and partnership work at Ysgol Glan-y-Môr
YSGOL Glan-y-Môr school was visited last week by the Minister for Education Kirsty Williams. Mrs Williams was visiting the school to celebrate the school’s work in STEM subjects, and their strong working partnerships with local primary schools.
During the visit Mrs Williams met staff and pupils from the school and its four feeder primaries, Pembrey Pwll, Ysgol y Castell and Burry Port, and saw some of the projects that the schools have worked together upon as they look to develop the new Curriculum for Wales.
During the visit Mrs Williams was also able to unveil a plaque to celebrate the schools work with the Wolfson foundation that has enabled the school to revolutionise the technology available to young people in the school to aid their learning. The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity that supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science, health, education and the arts and humanities. Since it was established in 1955, over £900 million (£1.9 billion in real terms) has been awarded to more than 11,000 projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “It was a pleasure to visit Ysgol Glan-y-Môr today to meet the staff and pupils and hear about their fantastic approaches to learning’”
“I am very grateful and impressed by the quality of engagement the school has had in the process of developing the new curriculum; they have gone above and beyond its duty, and have excelled especially within the fields of Science and Technology.
“I can’t overstate the importance of developing STEM skills and knowledge, especially for our young women. These skills can offer rewarding careers and exciting opportunities that can bring learning alive, preparing them for the world of work.”
Mrs Sharon Cole, Chair of Governors said: “The Governing Body are delighted with the fantastic achievements of Glan-y-Môr schools students, teachers and Senior leadership team. It is with great pride that we witness our school grow from strength to strength and truly reap the rewards of our motto of “success through effort”. As we move into a new era, with a new curriculum for Wales that will allow our children to thrive in the future, together with the Wolfson Foundation Investment and an already strong STEM ethos, we are excited to witness great potential unfold at Glan-y-Môr.”
Mr Paul Jones, Headmaster of the federation said: “Following an excellent inspection – STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) had been identified by ESTYN as an outstanding feature of the school, and had been developed into a best practice guide. Developing ambitious and very capable learners with these sort of transferable skills is hugely important to us a school as we prepare all our learners for further education, training or employment.”
Mr John Jones, Head of School said: “Once again it is great to be able to celebrate exciting times at Glan-y-Môr. We are always looking for the next step in our journey, and even though recently classified as a “green” school for the third successive year we are keen to move ever forward. When inspected in 2017 we were praised for the way that we were developing the skills in our students, but it was commented that we lacked the facilities to enable them to develop and show these skills. Our work with the Wolfson foundation has enabled us to redevelop the facilities around STEM in our school, and our students now have the facilities to match their potential as the school continues to grow.”
Llanelli: Leavers’ Prom for Pen Rhos Pupils
PUPILS in Year 6 at Llanelli’s Ysgol Pen Rhos were able to bring their time in primary education to a wonderful close with a leavers’ ‘Prom’ party (June 13). This was the second year group of pupils to leave the newly-established school in Seaside, which opened in April 2018.
The event was organised by parents of the school who wanted to give the pupils a send-off to remember as they embark on the next chapter in their journey.
School teacher Mr N Davies said: “It was a lovely opportunity for pupils to come together to celebrate the end of their time in Ysgol Pen Rhos. They have worked extremely hard throughout the year and deserve to enjoy every moment before their transition to secondary school.
“We would like to extend a big thank you to parents, teachers, the entertainers at ‘Starlight Celebrations’ and of course the parents who arranged the event and made it a success.
“The school wishes the best of luck to all pupils in their future endeavours.”
Llanelli: Ysgol Pen Rhos thanked for charity boost
A RECENT charity event held at Llanelli’s Ysgol Pen Rhos was a great success after it raised hundreds of pounds towards a worthy cause when staff and pupils turned up for school wearing their own clothes instead of normal schoolwear. Each participant donated £1 to a cause which has a personal connection to one member of the school’s staff.
Deborah Jayne Griffiths has been an LSA at the school for 27 years and is raising funds to provide community defibrillators.
On Saturday (Jun 15), she took part in a skydive at Swansea Airport to raise money for a cause which means a lot to her.
June 15 was the fourth anniversary of the passing of her son, Cameron Jervis, who would now be twenty-two years old. Cameron passed away in his sleep four years ago.
Deborah said: “The school, they said that they’d come up with a money-raising scheme to help towards the purchase of the defibrillators.
“My sister Lindsay Kennedy who also works as an LSA designed t-shirts #jumpforcam for the tandem skydive, which I’ll be wearing as I jump. My older sister Sharon Evans, who works in Heol Goffa also as an LSA, plus her friend Sian will also be jumping.
“I’m petrified of heights so this will be a big deal for me. Cameron had wanted to do a skydive when he was eighteen, sadly he never had the chance, so this is for my boy. He was eighteen when he passed away in his sleep. All the money raised will go into Cameron’s Memorial Account, we then distribute to local communities. We have already had one defibrillator put up in Dafen Park. That has already been used a few times to help saves lives within our community.
“Ideally I want to raise money to be able to provide as many as I can. All the staff have had the defibrillator training here at Ysgol Pen Rhos which is obviously a worthy skill to learn.
I want to thank everyone for their support, this includes family, friends, staff and of course the pupils.”
There is a JUSTGIVING page on Facebook if anyone is happy to donate to this fantastic cause.
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