University retains Fairtrade Status
THE UNIVERSITY OF WALES TRINITY SAINT DAVID (UWTSD) has retained its status as a Fairtrade University by making a strong commitment to supporting and using Fairtrade produce across its campuses.
This commitment is part of the university’s overall dedication to sustainability, including its pledge to supporting local producers.
In order to achieve this important title, universities have to ensure that as many Fairtrade products as possible, including food, drink and clothing, are available in as many places as possible in and around their campuses.
Increasing the use and sales of Fairtrade products among students, staff and visitors can have a huge impact for producers and their communities.
Increased usage also raises the awareness of Fairtrade and the benefits that it brings to workers and farmers in developing countries.
To achieve Fairtrade status, UWTSD has demonstrated that it has achieved five key goals, including instating a formal Fairtrade policy; ensuring that Fairtrade products including food and cotton are made available for sale in all campus shops; ensuring Fairtrade products are served at all meetings and events hosted by the university and the Student Union; arranging campaigns on campus to increase the understanding of Fairtrade and the establishment of a Fairtrade Steering Group.
UWTSD has surpassed these five goals and has clearly demonstrated its dedication to making its Carmarthen, Swansea and Lampeter campuses Fairtrade as part of its overall commitment to sustainable development.
“We’re delighted that UWTSD has retained its status as a Fairtrade University and that the feedback we received from the assessors was so positive,” said Dr Jane Davidson, Pro Vice Chancellor for External Engagement and Director of INSPIRE (Institute of Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness).
“Sustainable development is about making better decisions using long term values; it’s about thinking about the impacts of today’s actions on future generations and learning to live within our environmental limits. It’s also about balancing social, environmental, economic and cultural needs in a way that does not compromise future generations. Fairtrade is a great example of this and we, as a university, are pleased that we can help promote and encourage the use of Fairtrade produce.
“This is something UWTSD takes very seriously and through work carried out via our Institute of Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness (INSPIRE), we aim to place sustainability at the centre of its delivery for its curriculum, campuses, communities and culture,” added Dr Davidson.
The success of promoting Fairtrade is a partnership between the Student Union and the university. In terms of the catering offer, the university’s catering staff work with the student body to ensure a good provision of Fairtrade products.
Fairtrade tea, coffee, and sugar are available at all meetings at UWTSD and the university also sell juices and snacks in its catering outlets, with Fairtrade wine being available at all university events. Catering staff use Fairtrade ingredients in some of their home-made cakes, too.
UWTSD also arranges a range of events and initiatives for students and staff to further promote its commitment to Fairtrade. These have included Fairtrade Fortnight events; a Big Breakfast ‘Sit Down for Breakfast, Stand up for Farmers’ event, where the university worked with local producers; free bananas given away in the gym; hamper draws; Valentine biscuits; Mothering Sunday cakes and Shrove Tuesday celebrations.
As part of the INSPIRE Directorate, UWTSD also has three Fairtrade Student interns – one for each main university campus – with part of their role being to help promote the use of Fairtrade products and to engage with students to raise awareness of the reasons why staff and students should support the use of Fairtrade products.
The feedback UWTSD received from Fairtrade on each of the five goals was incredibly positive.
“Congratulations! We are delighted to renew your Fairtrade Status and thank you for your continuing hard work and support,” said Chrysi Dimaki, Campaigns Coordinator at Fairtrade.
“The University of Wales Trinity Saint David is clearly committed to Fairtrade, and this shows in your success in upholding and surpassing the five goals. Well done – we look forward to seeing how your campaign develops and what activities you have planned in the coming year,” she added.
Tom Defis, Chair of the Carmarthenshire Fairtrade Group, is also delighted that UWTSD has retained and reinforced its status as a Fairtrade University: “The Carmarthenshire Fairtrade Group is delighted to note the successful outcome of University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s recent application for renewed Fairtrade status,” he said.
“As one of the region’s leading providers of Higher Education, UWTSD plays a key role in shaping the leaders of the future and we believe that promoting Fairtrade is an important aspect of that wide-ranging transformative provision.”
Over the last few years, UWTSD has been awarded a number of accolades linked to sustainability, including winning a First Class Award and being ranked 8th out of 151 universities across the UK and first in Wales in the People and Planet University League 2015; being the first university in the UK to achieve a Food for Life Gold Catering Mark from the Soil Association for its banqueting and events services across all campuses and winning three awards in the 2015 Green Gown Awards.”
UWTSD has also been nominated in two categories in this year’s ceremony.
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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