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Davies outlines Conservative education plans




Suzy Davies: Language skills are important for Welsh children

Suzy Davies: Language skills are important for Welsh children

CONSERVATIVE Shadow Culture Minister Suzy Davies outlined her party’s plans to reform the Welsh education system at the Welsh Conservatives’ annual conference in Llangollen on Saturday (Mar 12).

Ms Davies said: “It doesn’t matter where you live in Wales. Everywhere, there is a genuine understanding that if we don’t get the economy right, then our public services cannot be at their best. After 17 years under Labour, we’ve seen how financial incompetence in government and too much risk aversion in our young population acts as a drag on our economy.

“So when we talk about excellence in education, it’s not just about the stats. It’s about helping people of all ages to become knowledgeable, ethical, creative, curious members of society who are hard wired to embrace responsibility for themselves and for those around them.

“Individuals who are confident enough to challenge inadequacy, to raise those around them and to understand that global and local are both part of the same outlook on life. When you leave a school in Wales, Welsh Conservatives believe that you should look at the world as your oyster and see Wales is the seed pearl.

“Experience the world with our blessing, live your life well, but if you feel the pull home, see Wales as an opportunity and use your experience to help that seed grow.

“It is not fanciful to say that Wales can make a very special offer to the world. This is a nation where we are not psychologically hemmed in by the parochialism of one language. We are a bilingual nation – cenedl dwyieithog – and we can be a trilingual nation with an education system that relishes different talents instead of squashing everyone into the same sausage skin.

“I know that compulsory Welsh in the curriculum has been a dismal experience for many of our young people. That is the fault of the system not the language. Excellence in education means changing the way pupils experience the Welsh language in school and pre-school, helping them understand the value and advantages that confident communication skills give you in the economy, local or global.

“Excellence in education means young children being inquisitive about a third language, in primary school, to play about with it, to recognise it for what it is – communication.

“However ambitious our plans for developing the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths to help the Welsh economy, nothing is more valuable than one human being being able to communicate with another. And a linguistically agile Wales sends a clear signal to the world that we want to talk to you; we value you and your trade.

“Of course, the Welsh economy won’t flourish if people can’t play their part in it. Many of our multilingual go-getters of the future are still young children, yet to be born even. They need to be looked after while their equally important parents or carers fulfil their own potential and responsibilities by going out to work now.

“Conference, this week the Welsh Conservatives announced the very policy that would have made such a difference to me not so very long ago. The arrival of my children coincided with my early training as a solicitor. I needed to go to work to keep up with my training. I needed childcare. It was excellent.

It cost me more than I earned. We did it because my career would make up the money later but that’s not true for everyone. And women in particular don’t go back to work when they really want to because of problems with childcare. They miss out on career opportunities and, let’s face it, deprive Wales of a pretty valuable and impressive economic asset.

“So, this week, we announced that we would smash down that barrier to full parent participation in the economy, that barrier to equal opportunity – let’s not pretend here – and that barrier – for someone like me anyway – to dignity and sanity.

“We commit to giving you 30 hours free childcare, each week for 38 weeks, when and where you need it – not when and where you’re told to use it. A policy that helps families work – in both senses of the word.

“A policy that helps reduce the pay gap by letting women progress in employment. And a policy that creates new jobs for knowledgeable, ethical, creative, curious and valued childcare providers who, give us a few years, will themselves be the fruit borne of excellence in education.”

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Senedd praise for Llanelli Youth Voluntary Group.




Plaid Cymru’s Helen Mary Jones MS praised the work of Llanelli-based CYCA, Connecting Youth, Children and Adults in the Senedd.

The Mid and West MS took the opportunity of a 90 second statement in the Senedd to congratulate the organisation on 40 years of working in Carmarthenshire.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Economy, Transport and Tackling Poverty Minister Helen Mary Jones Mid and West MS said:

“It was my privilege last week to visit, with my colleague Adam Price, a wonderful Llanelli-based organisation, CYCA—formerly the Carmarthenshire Youth and Children’s Association, now Connecting Youth, Children and Adults.

“I have known of and supported CYCA’s work for almost 20 years, and it was really inspiring to see how they’ve gone from strength to strength supporting children, young people and families in these challenging times, and this year, they celebrate their fortieth birthday.

“It would be easier to list what CYCA doesn’t do in the field than what they do, such is the breadth of their work. They run nurseries and youth groups, education and training courses, they provide counselling and individual support, and support for families. We were particularly impressed with the stories of two young mothers who, through CYCA, had not only received support with the challenges of isolation and family life, but had also been able to get back into education; one starts her training as a midwife this week.

“And we were struck, too, by an innovative social prescribing scheme where GPs refer children and young people experiencing distress to CYCA. The team then work with the whole family, identifying support needs and providing whatever is needed—counselling, parenting support, support at school—and this support lasts as long as the children and family need it.

“It’s already proving very successful, with young people’s well-being greatly enhanced. One service user said to me many years ago, ‘The thing about CYCA is that they never give up on you’. And they don’t. CYCA never gives up on a child, a young person, a vulnerable adult or a family. We are lucky to have them in our town, our county and our community. Pen-blwydd hapus iawn, CYCA. I’m looking forward to seeing what you get up to in the next 40 years.”

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Llanelli thanked for all their efforts to help control the spread of Covid-19




RESIDENTS in Llanelli are being thanked for all their efforts to help control the spread of Covid-19 – almost a week after new local restrictions were introduced.

A large part of Llanelli has been designated a ‘health protection zone’ following a large increase in Covid-19 cases in the area.

The temporary restrictions were introduced on Saturday, September 26 in a bid to halt the spread of the virus and to protect people’s health.

Council Leader Emlyn Dole has praised locals for changing their behaviour and adhering to the new restrictions.

However, it is still very early days and residents, not only in Llanelli, but across Carmarthenshire are being urged to please continue to follow the advice around social distancing, washing hands, face coverings, self-isolation and testing.

Anyone who has a positive Covid-19 result or has been in contact with someone with confirmed Covid-19 will receive a call from the Test, Trace Protect team on this number 02921 961133.  Residents are being urged to please answer the phone. If you do miss a call, the team will continue to try and reach you. Calls from this number are outbound only, so you will need to wait for a call back.

In the last week, the council’s enforcement team, with support from Dyfed-Powys Police, has visited more than 100 business premises to offer advice and support. The majority of businesses are compliant, however, there is a small minority of licensed premises who have failed to put appropriate measures in place. As a result, a total of seven closure notices and five improvement notices have been issued for breaches of coronavirus regulations.

Cllr Dole said: “I cannot thank residents enough for all they are doing to protect their loved ones, their families and friends. I can assure you that all your efforts and sacrifices will make a big difference.

“It is vital we keep on following the rules and do all we can to stop the spread, we all have a part to play in this, and together we will come through it.

“Please follow the advice on self-isolation and if you have any symptoms get a test; we are working closely with the health board and they have increased testing capacity in the town so there is no need to travel far. And those residents that do test positive, please work with our TTP teams so that we can trace anyone you may have come into contact with. This is now part of our ‘new normal’, and people should not be alarmed, but should listen carefully to their advice.

“As promised, we have increased our monitoring and enforcement and we are grateful to local businesses who, on the whole, are providing a safe environment for their customers. And where they have fallen short, action has been taken.

“We will continue to monitor the infection rates, the effectiveness of the measures that have been introduced and the compliance of residents and businesses, working closely with our key partners, Welsh Government and Public Health Wales.

“We know what we need to do to stop the spread, and together we will beat this and Keep Carmarthenshire safe.”

It will take some time before these restrictions have an impact on the number of cases in the area, so it is important residents do not become complacent.

They will be reviewed every two weeks. The main restrictions are:

  • people will not be allowed to enter or leave the defined area of Llanelli without a reasonable excuse
  • people will no longer be able to form, or be in, an extended household (sometimes called a “bubble”)
  • this means meeting indoors with anyone who is not part of your household (people you live with) is not allowed at the moment, unless you have a good reason, such as providing care to a vulnerable person
  • all licensed premises must stop serving alcohol at 10pm, and will have to close at 10.20pm
  • people must work from home wherever possible

Increased testing capacity for residents in Llanelli is available by appointment at the following locations:

  • Parc y Scarlets Car Park B, accessed via Trostre Retail Park, in Llanelli
  • The Ty’r Nant site (next to KFC), Trostre, Llanelli
  • The Carmarthen showground (signposted in both directions off the A40)

Tests should be booked via the UK Portal. Any Llanelli residents experiencing difficulty booking a test locally via the UK portal can instead email or by calling 0300 333 2222.

Visit for further information, including some Frequently Asked Questions and to find out if you live in the restricted area.

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The latest increase in coronavirus in Wales is ‘sobering’ says First Minister




THE FIRST MINISTER, Mark Drakeford has criticised the lack of communication with the UK government as he gave a briefing on what he described as the “sobering” increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalisation in Wales.

The infection rate in Wales has risen to 23.6 infections for every 100k people as cases have spiked in areas including Merthyr, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caerphilly and Newport.

Hospitalisations remain low but are rising, with five people currently in intensive care with Covid-19 and and 53 Covid patients on all hospital wards, according to the latest data from Public Health Wales from Sunday, September 13.

Mr Drakeford said that the number of people in hospital with coronavirus had risen to 41 with four people in intensive care.

He also said that the R number in Wales was almost certainly now above one – meaning the virus is spreading exponentially again. The latest estimate, he said, was between 0.7 and 1.2.

Mr Drakeford said: “In this most difficult week, there has been no meeting offered to First Ministers of any sort. Since the 28 May, there has been just one brief telephone call from the Prime Minister.

“This is simply unacceptable to anyone who believes that we ought to be facing the coronavirus crisis together.

“We need a regular, reliable, rhythm of engagement: a reliable meeting even once a week would be a start. I make this argument not because we should all do the same things, but because being round the same table allows each of us to make the best decisions for the nations we represent.

“There is a vacancy at the heart of the United Kingdom, and it needs urgently to be filled, so we can talk to each other, share information, pool ideas and demonstrate a determination that the whole of the country can face these challenges together at this most difficult time.”

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