Lifelong learning achievements celebrated
THE DESIRE for and the love of learning is a guiding principle for the Lifelong Learning programme at Aberystwyth University.
That was the key message from Professor Judy Broady-Preston, Director of the Institute of Professional Development at Aberystwyth University, at the institution’s annual Lifelong Learning and Learn Welsh Awards Ceremony on Monday,October 23.
The successes and achievements of students of all ages on a range of lifelong courses were recognised at the ceremony hosted at the University’s Medrus conference centre.
These included the Certificate of Continuing Education that acknowledged learners who have completed 120 credits across a broad range of subjects, and the Certificate of Higher Education, which can take between two and six years to complete on a part-time basis.
Successful students were presented with certificates by Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University.
Professor Treasure said: “Aberystwyth University has a long and distinguished history of encouraging life-long learning not only among staff and full-time students but the wider community. It is important to recognise the commitment and the many hours of personal study that this involves and the benefits that lifelong learning brings. I’m delighted that many of our students receiving certificates here today will now progress onto higher levels of study, at Undergraduate and Masters. I wish them all well in their endeavours, and thank our tutors for their dedication to learning and for making all of this possible.”
In all,27 students were presented with Certificates of Higher Education in Art and Design, Creative Writing, Genealogy, Languages, Psychology, Field Ecology, and the Diploma of Higher Education in Field and Conservation Ecology.
Individual awards were presented to both students and staff during the ceremony in recognition of their contributions, successes and achievements.
The Rob Strachan Memorial Prize – named after the renowned mammal ecologist, conservationist and Lifelong Learning tutor who died after a short illness in 2014 – was awarded to Suzanne Ellis for her portfolio of work on the Understanding Mammals courses.
Art students Candy Bedworth and Frances Isaac were presented with the Student of the Year Award. Both were nominated for their award by their tutors and fellow students.
Candy, who lives in Mallwyd, was acknowledge for her work on an educational flyer assessment designed for students with sight impairments which was shared at the University’s Teaching and Learning Conference in July 2017.
Frances Isaacs from Llangorse near Brecon, was described as an “inspiring” artist and “encouraging and modest” as a fellow student, and someone about whom “everyone had something positive to say”.
Three tutors shared the Lifelong Learning Annual Tutor Award.
Ethel Cure, Kaori Oikawa and Patricia Aitchison were nominated for the award by their students.
Spanish tutor Ethel was described as “a gem of a teacher and an example for the language teaching profession.”
Kaori, who teachers Japanese, was described as someone who loves her subject and’encourages students to speak to give them confidence in the language they are learning’.
An ’inspirational tutor who motivates everyone in the class’, French tutor Patricia was acknowledged for teaching with’humour and a light touch’.
Professor Judy Broady-Preston, Director of the Institute for Professional Development at Aberystwyth University said: “Aberystwyth has rightly been designated as a people’s university, founded as it was by ordinary people’s subscriptions. The University was established because a local community had both the desire for and the love of learning, and I am delighted that this remains true today. It is not always easy to find time to learn, but those of us who do attend courses such as these benefit in such a wide variety of ways. I would also like to pay tribute to all the staff who design, deliver and organise the courses and say thank you to them.”
The event also celebrated the work of organisations that have been promoting the use of Welsh and students who have been learning the language.
The Welsh in the Family Award was presented to former Aberystwyth Mayor and performer Sue Jones-Davies.
The Brecon Beacons National Park was presented with the Welsh in the Workplace Award, and Clwb Clonc Caersws was presented with the Welsh Group of the Year.
Certificates were also presented to students who have successfully completed their WJEC ‘Use of Welsh’ Entry, Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced qualifications, and the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol’s Welsh Language Skills Certificate.
Examination crisis: teacher’s predicted grades to be given to students
THE Welsh Government has announced today (Mon, Aug 17) that AS, A level, GCSE, Skills Challenge Certificate and Welsh Baccalaureate grades in Wales will now be awarded on the basis of Centre Assessment Grades.
This occurred after the outrage of students, causing protests outside the Senedd after hearing that a total of 42% of A-level grades predicted by their teachers had been lowered when the Welsh results were published last week. This was due to the decision to process these grades through an algorithm.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams said she took the decision to maintain confidence in the system.
Speaking on the decision, Kirsty Williams said: “Working with Qualifications Wales and WJEC we have sought an approach which provides fairness and balances out differences in the standards applied to judgments in schools.
“Given decisions elsewhere, the balance of fairness now lies with awarding Centre Assessment grades to students, despite the strengths of the system in Wales.
“I am taking this decision now ahead of results being released this week, so that there is time for the necessary work to take place.
“For grades issued last week, I have decided that all awards in Wales, will also be made on the basis of teacher assessment.
“For those young people, for whom our system produced higher grades than those predicted by teachers, the higher grades will stand.
“Maintaining standards is not new for 2020, it is a feature of awarding qualifications every year in Wales, and across the UK.
“However, it is clear that maintaining confidence in our qualifications whilst being fair to students requires this difficult decision.
“These have been exceptional circumstances, and in due course I will be making a further statement on an independent review of events following the cancellation of this year’s exams.
“Other Awarding Bodies across the UK are involved in determining the approach to vocational qualifications. This continues to be the case but it is important that I give assurance to GCSE, AS and A level student at the earliest opportunity.”
This was a decision welcomed by Suzy Davies, Shadow Education Minister.
Commenting on the Decision, Suzy Davies said: “This has been an exceptional time, and this news will come as a very welcome relief for the thousands of A-Level students who last week were looking at grades lower than they were predicted to receive. It will also be a relief to pupils expecting results this week as well as an acknowledgement of quite how much effort teachers put into this.
“It is reassuring that the Minister has listened to the Welsh Conservatives and other parties in the Welsh Parliament, but especially pleasing that she heard the voices of young people up and down the country.
“These students – at A, AS, GCSE, Skills Challenge Certificate, and Welsh Baccalaureate level – will now have the confidence to plan their future education or career aspirations, and reach their potential.”
The Education Minister also promised an independent review of the events “following the cancellation of this year’s exams”.
Students who received higher grades than those predicted by teachers will keep them.
Swansea University appoints new governing body Chair
Swansea University is pleased to announce that Bleddyn Phillips has been appointed as its new Chair of Council.
Mr Phillips, who joined the University’s governing body in May 2017, has been appointed Chair for a four-year term replacing Sir Roger Jones, whose term of office came to an end in September 2019.
Mr Phillips said: “It is a great honour to be appointed Swansea University’s Chair of Council. As a Welsh-speaker, with strong roots in Llanelli and Gower, and with both parents having studied at Swansea, I have long felt an affinity with the University and have been delighted to serve on the Council.
“I want to acknowledge the contribution made to the University by Sir Roger Jones over almost 14 years and I very much look forward to working with, and serving, the University as it celebrates its centenary in 2020 and beyond.”
Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said “It will be a privilege to work with Bleddyn as we develop our new strategic plan and look forward to beginning our second century in 2020.”
Mr Phillips is a lawyer by profession, a former commercial director at oil companies BP and Total, and later Global Head of the Oil and Gas practice at the international law firm, Clifford Chance LLP. He is Director of Llanelli Scarlets RFC and was a trustee of the Wales Millennium Centre from 2012-2018.
The Council is the University’s governing body, which approves the mission and strategic vision of the University, long-term academic and business plans, key performance indicators and overall standards. The Council assures that the University discharges its duties in accordance with the Welsh Quality Assessment Framework.
Experts attack Welsh Government’s proposed smacking ban plan
PROMINENT academics have criticised the Welsh Government’s bill to criminalise parental smacking during a public debate at Swansea University.
Tonight, experts from the fields of sociology and criminology and parenting studies poured scorn on the plan during an Academy of Ideas debate on state intervention in the family.
A panel of three academics discussed the merits or otherwise of the smacking legislation, which is due to be debated by AMs for a third time in January next year.
Dr Stuart Waiton, a senior lecturer in sociology and criminology at Abertay University and outspoken critic of the Scottish smacking Bill, said: “No longer treated like citizens, as adults who have an opinion and a basic level of autonomy to raise our children, we have culture change imposed from on high – we are made ‘aware’ by the new authoritarians holding the stick above us.
“The smacking act is a disgrace. It is a form of brutality that undermines parents, weakens the meaning of freedom, and will go on to destroy many loving families who dare to think and act differently to the modern elitists.”
Dr Waiton added: “The brutality of the smacking act will mean that a light smack on the hand or bottom of a child will be a criminal offence. Hard smacking is already illegal, but to the middle-class anti-smacking zealots that was not enough. Children, they argue, need equal protection from assault. The very language they use is alien to the millions of parents who occasionally smack rather than assault their children.
“Parents know that smacking a child is a form of discipline often done out of love and concern rather than something that is abusive and criminal.”
Criticising the way politicians at the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly have engaged with parents on the smacking legislation, he said: “The new elite think a lot about consultation and inclusion. The reality is a process run by a small section of society, politicians and professionals, who exist in their own bubble and are distant and disconnected from ordinary people.”
Ellie Lee, Professor of Parenting Research at the University of Kent also spoke out on the Welsh Government’s plans.
“Within the context of an authoritative child rearing relationship, aversive discipline including smacking is well accepted by the young child, effective in managing short-term misbehaviour and has no documented harmful long-term effects.”
She added: “It should be the concern of professionals who work with parents to respectfully offer them alternative disciplinary strategies rather than to condemn parents for using methods consonant with their own, but not the counsellors beliefs and values.”
The Professor accused the Welsh Government of using the “full force of the criminal law to attack people who disagree on the comparative merits of using smacking rather than something like timeout”, saying it is a “bureaucratic imposition on parents”.
Only one academic – Dr Gideon Calder, Associate Professor in Sociology and Social Policy at Swansea University – spoke in favour of Government interventions like the smacking ban.
Dr Calder argued that intervention is justifiable in some instances and said something like the smacking ban is not necessarily authoritarian. He said: “the point of the legislation is to safeguard children from potentially harmful interactions.”
Commenting on the debate, Jamie Gillies, spokesman for the Be Reasonable Wales campaign, said:
“The criticism levelled at the Government’s smacking plans tonight by experts in the fields of sociology, criminology and parenting studies should be a wakeup call to Ministers.
“Experts are not convinced that the plan to outlaw parental smacking is viable, needful or helpful in terms of improving child protection.
“I hope AMs hear the concerns of these academics as well as their constituents and scrap the smacking ban bill when it’s voted on in January.”
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