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.”
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.
Pupil Language Ambassadors’ key role
EACH year Pupil Language Ambassadors (PLAs) from schools across the ERW region work hard to increase awareness of the skills and opportunities, which come from studying a language amongst their peers. They speak in assemblies and to groups of their peers at school events. Their ambassadorial role is wide and varied and each year they work with their teachers to increase the number of pupils studying language at GCSE.
This year, the focus has been to utilise the skills of language ambassadors to work with primary school children where these committed linguists go into their nearby primaries and speak to key stage 2 pupils about the benefits of learning an additional language. This has helped to fulfil a crucial element of the national and regional priorities as set out in the work of Global Futures, a Welsh Government funded scheme to promote language learning for all.
In addition to their fantastic and creative work and projects, in March these motivated ambassadors attended the annual ERW Pupil Language Ambassador training at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea. They met with other ambassadors from across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Powys and Swansea to discuss their role and heaR from some inspirational speakers.
The purpose of the day was to help the pupils understand their role, to develop ideas for events they could run in their schools, to take part in language tasters and create a plan of action for supporting language learning in their school and their cluster.
The day began with a fantastic presentation from the Pupil Language Ambassadors from Ysgol Dyffryn Taf in Whitland. They spoke to the new PLAs about their achievements last year. They addressed the audience in many languages and set the tone for the day perfectly. The keynote speaker was Rhodri Bendle, Chief Consultant at Snowstyle Travel Company in Austria that specialises in Ski and Snowboarding holidays and tuition. He shared his own story about learning a German and how it has helped him to develop his own business.
Pupils then went into a series of workshops delivered by Routes Cymru, a team of professionals and student language ambassadors from Cardiff University who facilitated idea sharing and discussion about how to set up a language club and other ways of getting the message across about language learning.
Diane Evans, ERW, helped pupils to draw out their knowledge of the role of the ambassador across Wales and internationally. Pupils learned how to get their voices heard and how to make an impact in their time as language ambassadors in their community.
Alex Pickering represented the Goethe Institute at the event speaking with ambassadors about the importance of language in business. Ariane Laumonier, a consultant with the Institut Français ran a brilliant workshop on language and the world of work. Both Ariane and Alex used their own languages to convey the importance of learning a language and the benefits of developing multilingual learners.
Another aim of the day was to build confidence in ambassadors in learning and speaking an additional language. The language taster sessions from staff and postgraduate students at Swansea University all ran tasters that strengthen the priorities across Wales to learn and speak a new language. These were extremely well-received as always, pupils tried out languages that many of them had not learnt before including Polish, Italian, German and Mandarin.
Mererid Hopwood, Professor of Language at University of Wales Trinity Saint David inspired staff and students alike with her talk on the importance of striving for a Multi-lingual society in Wales with children and adults using their newly acquired language at every opportunity.
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