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Education

Opportunities for students at new Innovation Hub

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screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-11-01-29GLOBAL tech firm Fujitsu has praised the forward-thinking vision of south west Wales as it opened its new Education Innovation Hub at Swansea University’s £450 million Bay Campus.

The technology-focused hub is the latest addition to the university’s School of Management, following hotly on the heels of The Bevan Commission, who moved its base from Cardiff to the Fabian Way campus last month.

A host of guests from across academia, industry, health, education and government gathered at the Bay Campus to see the ribbon cut at the prestigious education hub, which is supported by the Talent Bank Further Education programme.

Talent Bank, which is led by Gower College in a partnership with Institute of Life Science at Swansea University’s Medical School, is a new bespoke education and skills programme specifically designed to support the evolving life and health science sector in South West Wales.

The project is being driven by Gower College’s Beverley Wilson- Smith.

Talent Bank, which is part of the ARCH partnership, also announced the start of its Fujitsu and Intel Young Ambassador Programme at the opening of the hub. Beverley said: “We are delighted that Talent Bank can welcome such high profile companies as Fujitsu and Intel into our work. The opening of the Innovation Hub here at Swansea University is a key milestone for Talent Bank in that their ambassador programme will help us emerge our students in the world of innovation, industry and next generation tech.

“Fujitsu and Intel recognise the rising demand for STEM subject students across all sectors and their pilot industry-led programme is designed for selected students and focuses on digital and emerging technologies and innovation in order to grow local talent and skill supply across the south west Wales region.

“Students across south west Wales will be able to get hands-on, world-class exposure to industry experts from across the UK.

“There are a few remaining places available on the ambassador programme. If you are 14- to 16-years-old and currently in school and interested in technology and computer science, there is still time to be part of this unique opportunity.

“There is a programme of monthly meet-ups hosted at the new Fujitsu Innovation Hub which will support youngsters in their GCSE Computer Science studies and are also an opportunity to showcase emerging technologies and all available career options.”

Talent Bank, which is being delivered through the ARCH partnership, is a full-time education programme for young people aged 16+ wanting to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) A-levels or vocational and technical qualifications.

ARCH (A Regional Collaboration for Health) is a unique partnership between Swansea University, ABMU and the Hywel Dda University Health Board, who have come together to improve the health, wealth and well-being of the people of South West Wales.

ARCH board member and School of Management Dean Professor Marc Clement, who opened the hub this week, said: “As well as creating a healthcare system fit for the 21st century, the ARCH partners are leading the way in ensuring the creation of the next generation of doctors, nurses, healthcare staff, scientists, researchers and innovators. The Talent Bank will provide a dynamic learning experience which will help deliver these goals.

“The School of Management is delighted to welcome such as prestigious partner as Fujitsu to the Bay Campus.

“Relationships such as this between ARCH and Fujitsu and Intel will ensure local students can be immersed in an innovation-rich environment, working with leading industry, health and life science partners.”

Professor Clement, who is Executive Chair for the Institute of Life Science and vice-president of Swansea University, added: “This really is pioneering stuff, and now students will be able to benefit from unprecedented access to the world-leading state-of-the-art resources the Fujitsu Innovation Hub will bring.

“It will also provide them with one of the most advanced technological learning spaces in the region and will inspire and create a new generation of talent for the 21st century.

“The brand power Fujitsu and Intel bring to the table and the opportunities they present for our young learners in South West Wales is invaluable.

“We should not under-estimate the forward thinking of the ARCH ethos and what Talent Bank can help deliver. Talent Bank is a vital part of realising the importance of the life science and health sector in this area.

“Collaboration with such big-name firms as Fujitsu and Intel, along with the two university health boards and the university, will provide Talent Bank learners with a unique and ideal learning environment.”

The Fujitsu programme already supports 10 schools, colleges and universities across the UK, by setting up Innovation Hubs to equip these establishments with high performance solutions and support digital skills development. The initiative aims to enhance teaching and unleash students’ potential by putting technology at the heart of education.

Ash Merchant, Director of Education at Fujitsu, helped open the hub this week. He said: “The Talent Bank is vital to transforming the way students learn.

“A recent survey by Fujitsu revealed that around a fifth of consumers believe digital education should be part of the modern education curriculum, which points towards a real need to see educational establishments focus on an embedded digital journey. Contemporary models such as the Talent Bank will play a crucial role in making this happen – and Fujitsu, supported by our partners, is committed to supporting them in bringing their vision to life.

“We are incredibly excited to further grow our commitment to putting technology at the heart of education by adding Swansea to our 2016 Young Ambassador Programme and opening the Innovation Hub in Swansea University.

“Passion goes a long way; however, passion is sometimes not enough – education needs collaboration and support from the industry to really support the right skills development for young people, to lead to future employment opportunity, and that’s what the Ambassador Programme is all about.”

Fujitsu Director Joe Durran said: “By using technology and harnessing innovation, we can redesign the future of healthcare. ARCH is an exciting vehicle to help deliver this.”

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Education

£18m to support children and young people with additional learning needs

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NEW funding to support children and young people with Additional Learning Needs has been announced by Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language.

£18m will be made available to provide extra support for children and young people with ALN who’ve been affected by the pandemic and to help educational settings as learners move to the new ALN system from this month.

£10m of the funding will be used to support learners with ALN affected by the pandemic and to improve their wellbeing. During the pandemic, many disabled children and young people, including learners with ALN, continue to experience a negative impact on their mental health and difficulties accessing education.

The funding will add to existing support for ALN learners, such as intensive learning support and speech and language therapy. The funding can also be used to provide extra resources to target the impacts of the pandemic, such as mental health support and tailored support to help with attendance.

£8m will be allocated to schools, nurseries, local authorities and Pupil Referral Units to move learners from the old Special Educational Needs (SEN) system to the new ALN system, as the roll-out of the Additional Learning Needs Act continues.

The new ALN system, being rolled out over three years, will ensure children and young people with ALN are identified quickly and their needs are met. The Act makes provision for new individual development plans, designed to put the views of learners at the heart of the decision-making process, alongside those of their parents or carers.

Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles said:

“We are determined to deliver a fully inclusive education system in Wales – a system where additional needs are identified early and addressed quickly, and where all children and young people are supported to thrive in their education.

“Schools and nurseries are already doing a fantastic job of supporting their learners, but we know they need more resources to do this. That’s why I’m announcing this additional investment to support learners to overcome the effects of the pandemic and prevent the entrenchment of inequalities on their education, employment opportunities, their health and wellbeing.”

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Education

Over £100m of new funding will help make schools and colleges Covid-secure

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Schools and colleges to receive additional funding

SCHOOLS and colleges will receive £103 million in Welsh Government funding, as learners return for the January term.

£50m will be provided via local authorities through the Sustainable Communities for Learning programme. The funding will help schools carry out capital repair and improvement work, with a focus on health and safety measures, such as improving ventilation. The funding will also be used to support decarbonisation.

£45m of revenue funding will also help support school budgets, assisting schools as they continue to deal with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and to prepare for the requirements of the new curriculum.

An additional £8m will be provided to further education colleges, to ensure learning can continue safely and ensure the most disadvantaged learners are not further impacted by the pandemic.

Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, said:

“I know schools and colleges have faced a very difficult time and everyone across the workforce has worked incredibly hard to meet the challenges of the pandemic. This funding will further support our schools and colleges to keep settings as Covid-secure as possible.

“While we want to support the sector in recovering from the pandemic, we also have to make sure we continue to plan for the future, and help all education settings across Wales fulfil our collective goals of making Wales a net-zero nation.

“The funding announced today will help us to ensure sustainability across the sector – be that the environmental sustainability achieved through decarbonisation, or sustainability in provision.”

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Education

Welsh schools plan to work from home after Christmas

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Jeremy Miles MS

SCHOOLS across Wales have been told by the Education Minister to prepare for at-home learning starting in January. 

Jeremy Miles MS has repeated the Welsh Government’s aspiration to stick to in-person learning in schools. However, he added that some measures may need to be taken to protect children and staff members. 

He has written to schools, suggesting they have preparations in place to move to remote learning if needed. 

Schools will be given two days at the start of the spring term to create plans for all children to return to school. 

Colleges have also been given the option to use the two “planning days” at the start of term, and have been advised they can move to some online learning from January.

The use of face coverings in schools will continue, as well as an increase in taking Lateral Flow Tests. Secondary school pupils and staff are expected to test at least three times a week. 

Schools have also been given permission to stagger starting and finishing times in the new term to help combat the spread of the Omicron variant.

Mr Miles has said: “Our collective priority continues to be to minimise the disruption to education, and ensure where possible learners continue to receive in-person learning, as well as protecting staff, learners and communities,

“I know that the autumn term has been particularly challenging for school staff, learners and their families, and the level of disruption due to staff capacity has resulted in some schools having to make the difficult decision to move certain classes or year groups to remote learning for short periods.

“In recognition of the challenges that schools and colleges have faced, and the current levels of uncertainty regarding the impact of Omicron, I have today written to all schools and colleges to provide as much clarity now as I can to enable them to plan and prepare for the return in January.

“I am providing all schools with two planning days at the start of the spring term. This will  allow time for schools to assess staffing capacity and put the necessary measures in place to support the return of all learners.

“Schools will be asked to make use of the planning days to ensure they have robust plans in place to move to remote learning if required – this could be for individual classes or year groups or possibly for the whole school.

“Schools will be asked also to use this opportunity to revisit contingency plans, ensuring exam years are prioritised for on-site provision should there be a need to restrict in person learning at any time and consider what arrangements might need to be in place for vulnerable learners and the children of critical workers during any periods of disruption.

“This is a fast evolving situation and we continue to monitor the latest data and evidence.

“I would like to reiterate my thanks to all in the education community for all they have done during these most challenging of times.”

Commenting Laura Anne Jones MS, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Education Minister, said:

“The youngest in our society have sacrificed so much during the pandemic to protect others at a huge cost to their own life chances.

“Therefore, it is essential we do everything we can to ensure schools are kept open at their normal capacity.

“Education is not expendable, especially for vulnerable children where their time away from home is their only respite from abuse.

“There are legitimate concerns over workforce availability if a significant wave hits the country, and that’s why the priority and energy of government must be directed at rolling out the booster jab programme as quickly as possible.”

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