Archive | February, 2016

School Buildings

22 Feb

A little while ago I was discussing the quality, or lack there of, of school buildings in Wales with the BBC.  As I said at the time in interviews the Welsh Government are investing a significant amount of money in school building and improvement projects.  The Welsh Government said £2bn was being invested.  I understood the 21C schools project to be supported to the tune of £1.4bn.  Perhaps they are including additional spending around that.  However, be it £1.4bn or £2bn, we should not forget it is a far cry from the £4bn+ that was originally identified by tWelsh local authorities as needed to drag our schools up to scratch.  We shouldn’t also forget that this was the figure in 2011, it has undoubtedly risen since then.

Again, I do not underestimate what is being spent, nor the realities of public spending budget constraints, but that does not change the fact that what is going in does not match what is required.

So what does this mean for teachers, pupils and parents?  I don’t think anyone would question the fact that a poor standard of classroom, a lack of resource or a dilapidated school will negatively impact on education standards.

At the very basic level teachers should expect to be able to control the standards of lighting and heating in their class; they should expect acoustic levels to be of sufficient standard; they should expect no areas of their schools to be hazardous to teach and learn in; they should expect no classroom, reception or toilet to be leaking water and absolutely no school building should have the risk of asbestos hanging over it.

We talk about wanting to establish Wales as one of the worlds leading education systems.  We’re beginning the work to renewing, refreshing and re-imagining our qualifications, our curriculum and the way we train our teachers.  Without looking also at the long-term need to match where we teach with what and how we teach we will only be doing half the job.

Manifesto Corner

16 Feb

It is good to see that political parties in Wales are starting to generate some real debate around education as we build towards the Welsh election in May.

The Lib Dems set their stall out early with a policy around class sizes, something I blogged about here.  Plaid Cymru recently proposed a raft of ideas, including the very interesting ‘teachers premium’ proposal. Over the weekend Labour announced some of their key pledges including £100m fund to boost school education standards.

I’ve generally held off blogging on these policies as I have been waiting for the full manifestos to come out.  Let’s be honest very few people read through manifestos but they remain the go to justification for policy decisions for any party entering government.  With that I thought I would look through the education pitches of each party as the manifestos come out to see what they are offering teachers, parents and pupils for the next Assembly term.

More to come when the full manifestos materialize.

Pen-y-fan

1 Feb

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I’ve always wanted to climb Pen-y-Fan but for some reason I never have, even though I’ve become a big fan of walking for pleasure and fitness over the past 12 months.  Finally, a few weekends back I did venture up with a group of friends.  We’ve all gone too old to play rugby so walking seems like the new group past-time.

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You regularly hear people say how beautiful Wales is.  I actually blogged on that very topic a while back when I was trying to appreciate just how stunning Tenby is on a nice day.  However, it really can’t be stressed enough.  Some of the views on the way up the walk were quite simply sensational.12507099_10153956759743623_6554886498610608544_n

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One thing I was quite amazed by was how quickly the weather changed.  You could really appreciate just how easy it is to get caught out.  During the initial stage of the climb we were stripping layers off as we were boiling on a hot and humid day.  Within half an hour you were wearing face masks and walking at a 45 degree angle to avoid being blown over by the wind.

I was also somewhat unprepared as to just how steep to final incline was on the route we had taken from Cwmgwdi car park.  The fog was constantly hiding each upcoming point until it finally jumped out on me.

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By the time we reached the top conditions were freezing and sadly the mist had come in so that while we were able to appreciate the views on the way up the peak offered little to see.

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Funny enough despite several setbacks we were up in quite a quick time.  Getting down proved more difficult.

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I think this photo probably sums up better than most how much disagreement we had about the best way down.  This even though we had a map and compass on us.12540876_10153487827399403_6541160689058677551_n

Eventually we did make it back and I am pleased to say I wasn’t even that sore the next day.