TEACHING and school leadership unions have joined together in a statement to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), warning the Government risks undermining teaching standards due to a real terms reduction in funding and the continued erosion of teachers’ pay.
Unions representing the full spectrum of the teaching profession in England and Wales are opposed to the Government’s wish to continue to limit teachers’ annual pay increases to an average of 1% for a further four years, following five years of imposed pay restraint.
Unions, including UCAC, the NUT and NAHT have submitted a joint document to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) which makes the following points:
· We are facing a national crisis in number of teachers and as pay and prospects improve in comparable occupations, further pressure will be placed on recruitment and retention. The STRB must accept that we are facing a national crisis, not “a challenge” in teacher supply, which means more children will not be taught by teachers qualified in the subject they teach. DfE data has failed to capture the scale of the crisis.
· School budgets are at breaking point. Schools are facing real terms cuts in funding, at a point when an overall funding increase is needed. Schools are under insurmountable pressure to maintain current spending, let alone afford pay increases or other forecast increases in costs such as national insurance increases coming in from April. The Government must fully fund the necessary pay increases for teachers and school leaders in both England and Wales.
· Teachers are an investment, not a cost. Teachers need a pay rise. The public sector pay policy of the past five years has depressed teachers’ real earnings to the extent that recruitment and retention are being seriously harmed. We are asking the STRB to recommend a fair pay award for teachers for the highly skilled, important jobs that they do. A significant pay increase is needed for teachers at all stages of their careers so we can ensure there are enough teachers for the number of pupils.
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “The numbers applying for initial teacher training are rapidly declining and more teachers left the profession last year than in any previous year, so unless teachers get a significant pay rise schools will have to start increasing class sizes or shutting courses and cutting the subject options available to pupils.”
Something which is shortly to become a fact of life in both Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.
Elaine Edwards, UCAC’s general secretary, said: “The Government must invest more in education funding and fund fully a pay rise for teachers. Teachers need a proper pay rise – more than the 1% average suggested by the Government. Pay freezes and below inflation increases have contributed to a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention. The Government needs to reconsider its pay policies for the sake our children and young people and the education system as a whole.”
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: “Years of pay restraint are now extracting their toll. High standards require great teachers; this is an investment in our future not a short term cost to the country. And competitive salaries that match other graduate professions must be funded appropriately by the government when it sets school budgets.”
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “No amount of misleading advertising which claims that great teachers can earn £65k can cover up the basic pay problems. It is quite clear that unless teachers’ salaries reflect the work they do this is a situation that will only get worse, with disastrous consequences for education and pupils.”
Canned Food UK & Tata Steel launch package design challenge
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.”
Strictly Cymru brings dancing a-plenty to 2020
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.
Lee Waters in School Council Summit
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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