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Education

Sex and relationships education ‘inadequate’

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SRE: 'Should be a statutory requirement'

SRE: ‘Should be a statutory requirement’

TEACHERS have reported serious concerns about the reality of school-level commitment to LGBTI equality at the largest gathering of LGBTI teachers, organised by the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK.

86% of teachers at the NASUWT’s LGBT Teachers’ Consultation Conference said they do not think the Government is doing enough to communicate the importance of LGBTI equality to schools and colleges

Only 7% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) teachers say their school or college provides training to staff to identify and deal with incidents of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

56% said their school was not committed to LGBTI equality for staff and pupils.

A real-time electronic poll of members attending the Conference found that:

A third said their school or college was not a safe space for LGBTI teachers;

More than four in ten (43%) say they have experienced some form of discrimination, bullying or harassment because of their LGBTI identity during the last year;

Only 4% said their school has a programme of activities to mark LGBT History Month;

85% do not think schools and colleges are being held to account sufficiently in relation to LGBTI equality.

To support schools in ensuring they are inclusive spaces for all staff and pupils, the NASUWT has today launched new guidance on trans-awareness.

Equality for Trans Teachers is aimed at schools, colleges and employers and sets out the legal responsibilities on employers and also provides advice and guidance on the steps schools should take to support people transitioning in the workplace.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, who addressed the Conference, said: “It is scandalous that in the 21st century teachers are still reporting that homophobia is still an issue for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex pupils and staff and that many LGBTI teachers do not feel safe in their schools .

“Despite assertions to the contrary, the Government has rolled back the progress made over decades on equality and we see the adverse impact this is having on teachers and pupils in our schools.

“All schools must demonstrate a commitment to creating a climate where all staff and pupils feel respected and safe.”

On the other hand, education regarding LGBTI issues for children in Wales’s schools is haphazard and very much left to individual schools to deliver. Parents retain the power to prevent schools from delivering sex education to their own children.

In England, even the more limited Personal and Social Education (PSE) is not compulsory.

The 124 page Donaldson report on Wales’s education system barely mentions either SRE or (PSE), with which the delivery of which SRE is occasionally synonymous. In 124 pages SRE is mentioned not at all, PSE on four occasions in passing and sex education on three occasions.

The Welsh Government, which imposes PSE as a statutory obligation has avoided compulsory SRE in schools.

Cadan ap Tomos, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Cardiff West, has described Welsh Sex and Relationships Education as ‘woefully inadequate’.

Reflecting on his own relatively recent experiences of the Welsh education system, Cadan ap Tomos told the Welsh Liberal Democrat conference that attitudes towards sex and sexuality were still stuck in the past and did not acknowledge the realities of life in a modern nation.

Speaking candidly of his own experiences, Cadan ap Tomos said: “At no point during my education was the message hammered home that being anything but straight was perfectly normal.

“My school’s sex education curriculum barely dealt with the issue of sexuality – a single session on “homophobia” in year 10 was deemed adequate. But by that point, most young people will already be confused and worried about who they are.”

Cadan ap Tomos reflected wider concerns about the paucity of SRE advice given to Welsh students. Saying that the education he received did not deal properly with either the issue of sexual consent or health relationships, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Cardiff West observed: “There’s no wonder that a number of my peers to this day continue to have deeply unpleasant attitudes towards women.

“Every single child in Wales needs good quality, age-appropriate sex and relationships education. The attitude of your parents, or even the sort of school you attend, should not stop you from being given the best opportunity to be comfortable with who you are.”

NUT Wales Policy Officer, Owen Hathway, said: “Sex and Relationships Education should be a statutory requirement for all children, whatever their background. The importance of relationships should be taught at an early enough age to ensure children have respect for their bodies.

“What teachers need is the flexibility in schools to vary what they teach according to the needs of parents and children in their individual school communities.”

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Education

Funding for music education trebled to the tune of £13.5m

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EVERY child will have the opportunity to benefit from music education as part of the Welsh Government’s plans for a national music service, which will help ensure no child misses out due to a lack of means.

As the National Plan for Music Education is published, the Minister for Education has confirmed funding will be trebled, with £13.5m being invested over the next three years.

The plan will make access to music education fairer and more consistent across Wales, with a particular focus on learners from low-income households and those with Additional Learning Needs. Support will be available for children and young people to access and progress with music tuition, with learners from disadvantaged and under-represented groups supported to join music ensembles.

The plan includes a number of key work programmes such as:

A review on music tutors’ terms and conditions, to ensure they are treated equitably and are recognised properly.
A ‘First Experiences’ programme to offer children in primary schools a minimum of half a term of musical instrument taster sessions, delivered by trained and skilled music practitioners.
A ‘Making Music with Others’ initiative, including opportunities for children and young people in secondary schools to gain industry experience through working alongside musicians and creative industries
A new national instrument and equipment library to support access to a resource bank to be shared across Wales.
These programmes will be rolled out from September 2022, supporting schools and settings to give all children and young people from the ages of 3 to 16 the opportunity to learn to play an instrument as well as singing and making music in our schools and our communities.

The National Music Service will operate as a ‘hub’, with the Welsh Local Government Association co-ordinating the Music Service’s programmes with a wide range of organisations. It will help schools and settings in their delivery of the Curriculum for Wales and provide more diverse opportunities for children and young people to experience music outside schools and settings.

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford and the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea to see a cluster of primary school children taking part in a ‘Play Along’ session led by Swansea Music Service.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“The establishment of a National Music Service for Wales is an important commitment in our Programme for Government and I’m delighted that we are delivering on this pledge.

“Learning an instrument was a formative part of my upbringing and a lack of money should not be a barrier to any young person who wants to learn to play music. We are fortunate in Wales to have a strong tradition of school, county and national ensembles, and we want to make sure that our children and young people are able to play a full part in these. This funding will support music services in schools and within the community to help nurture our young musical talent.”

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

“Our vision is for all children and young people across Wales, regardless of background, to have the chance to learn to play an instrument. The plan we are publishing today, backed by funding, will help deliver that vision.

“For too long, the chance to learn an instrument and develop musical skills has been for those few whose families and carers who can afford tuition. I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to access music tuition, and that’s why we’re making this significant investment to deliver a range of activities for our children and young people to learn and experience the joy of music.

“The development of the National Music Service will ensure that we nurture our next generation and continue to produce new talent and showcase Wales to the world.”

WLGA Chief Executive Chris Llewelyn said:

“We are proud to work with the Welsh Government on delivering this vital service to children across Wales. Many families in Wales can’t afford an instrument, and this funding will go a long way to opening doors to children across Wales to have the opportunity of learning an instrument.

“Playing an instrument and reading music is a very important skill for a child, and music brings enormous joy to children. Local authorities believe that children across Wales will have better access to instruments, and this plan will develop many future talented musicians, and support pupils to develop their musical skills.”

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Education

Work starts on new £8.25m primary school for Pembrey

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WORK has started on building a new £8.25million primary school for Pembrey.

The new school building is being constructed on the recreation ground/playing field immediately adjacent to the existing school site on Ashburnham Road.

It will provide high-quality teaching facilities to improve the overall learning experience for learners, as well as benefitting the local community.

The new school will have capacity for 270 primary pupils, 30 nursery pupils and will incorporate a Flying Start facility which is currently located in a mobile classroom on the current school site.

Headteacher Helen Jacob said: “We are looking forward to having our brand-new school building at Pembrey where we can continue to provide quality educational opportunities and experiences for our children.

“Everyone is excited at the prospect of learning in a modern purpose-built school that will be at the heart of the community.”

The project is part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Modernising Education Programme which aims to give every child in the county access to first class accommodation and facilities.

It is being jointly funded by Welsh Government through its 21st Century Schools initiative.

The new school building has been designed by the council’s own architects and the work is being carried out by local contractor TRJ Ltd. 

The estimated completion date is the autumn term of 2023.

Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “I am delighted that building work has started on the new school for the community of Pembrey. Building it on the adjacent recreation ground means that we can reduce disruption as much as possible.

“The council is committed to investing in our children’s futures, and the new school building will provide the very best educational facilities for both pupils and staff and accommodation fit for 21st century teaching and learning.”

Local member Cllr Hugh Shepardson said: “I am delighted that we are making a start on the new Pembrey Primary School. The facility, which I understand will be completed next year, will provide state-of-the-art teaching facilities for our children at Pembrey and will allow our children to be taught in a modern and welcoming environment.

“I am grateful to the Education department’s Modernising Education Programme team and the authority’s Cabinet for their diligence and hard work in making the completion of the new school a reality.”

To date, the Modernising Education Programme has invested more than £300million in Carmarthenshire schools, including the building of 12 new primary schools, two new secondary schools, and 48 major refurbishments and extensions.

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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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