30 Education


£4m to raise science teaching standards MORE than £4m is to be

invested to establish a new national network of excellence for science and technology to raise standards in Welsh schools. Education Secretary Kirsty

Williams has announced that the new network will target the improvement of teachers’ skills in science and technology and improve pupils’ experience of the subjects while they are at school. It will also involve schools working

with the science and technology departments of universities, education consortia, further education and other experts to learn from the best practice available. The Welsh Government is already

investing over £1.6m in 2016-17 to support STEM subjects and a shift in focus from the science BTEC to science GCSEs in schools and the network will build on these measures. Kirsty Williams said: “An understanding of science is crucial for our young people, from the technology they use, the way they communicate through to the energy they use in a rapidly changing world. It is also vital to Wales and how we develop our economy. “Our aim in science is more than an

ability to undertake simple experiments or remember basic concepts, but for our young people to be able to reason scientifically and understand the value of scientific approaches. This is key for the 21st century and is tested by PISA. Our new curriculum is being designed to better integrate these approaches into teaching and learning, and this network of excellence will help us improve the skills and knowledge of our teaching workforce to the benefit of all our pupils. “The science PISA results chimed

with our own understanding that we are not where we wish to be. This new network of excellence is part of our national mission of education reform to raise standards.” Among the challenges facing

the Welsh Government in meeting its targets for science is the fact the number of people qualifying to teach science in Welsh schools has declined 45% in the last five years. Figures released by the Higher

Education Statistics Agency (HESA) indicate an average 16% year-on-year slump in take-up. According to HESA, in the

2010/11 academic year, 145 science teachers achieved QTS compared to just 80 for 2014/15.

Te new Science and Technology network of excellence will:

• Draw together cutting edge knowledge for teaching practice in science and technology for three to 18-year- olds.

• Co-ordinate the development and delivery of recognised science and technology professional development for teachers, based on global and local evidence of what works.

• Improve pupils’ experiences of science and technology in schools across Wales. • Enable schools to work together to develop courses, teaching resources and class-based research.

Biology teachers achieving QTS

were marked by the biggest decline, having slipped from 80 in 2010/11 to 30 in 2014/15 – a drop of 62.5%. Darren Millar, the Welsh Conservatives’


spokesperson, said: “We have known for some time that there are huge challenges recruiting new science teachers in Wales, and that makes these figures even more disappointing. “The decline has consequences

that go far beyond education alone; its effects will reverberate through the economy and wider society. “A good start to boosting take-up

would be to make training bursaries more generous, because teachers in England are still receiving far bigger payments to pursue the profession.” The number of people qualifying

to teach science in Welsh schools has declined 45% in the last five years. Moreover, statistics from Wales’

Education Workforce Council show 51% of physics teachers do not have a degree in the subject. Figures also show four in 10 of

chemistry teachers (43%) and biology teachers (38%) do not have specific qualification in the subjects. Owen Hathway, NUT Cymru’s

policy officer, said: “I think it’s a serious situation because it’s one we

have been talking about for a number of years and yet we fail to address it.” A Welsh


spokesperson said: “As with the other nations of the UK, we still do not have enough suitably qualified science teachers, particularly in physics. “That’s why we have introduced

financial incentives to attract science graduates into teaching.”

Barnardo’s calls for compulsory sex education BARNARDO’S CYMRU is

calling on the Welsh Government to introduce compulsory sex and relationship lessons for all children after young people themselves said they wanted more advice on staying safe, particularly online. The charity has carried out a survey

among 11 to 15-year-olds which showed that three quarters (74%) of those questioned believe they would be safer if they had age-appropriate lessons in school.

Barnardo’s Cymru believes that

schools need to do more to protect young people from the dangers of online grooming and exploitation in an increasingly complicated digital world. The charity is urging the Welsh

Government to include compulsory sex and relationship education (SRE) in the curriculum which is currently being updated. The Welsh Government stopped short of doing so in 2014 when similar calls were made by charities during the progress of the Second Violence and Domestic Abuse (Wales) Act. The Welsh


commissioned Barnardo’s Cymru to provide an educational resource and teacher training sessions on the risks of hidden child sexual exploitation but the charity believes it is time to go further. Sarah Crawley, Director of

Darren Millar: Training bursaries should be more generous

Kirsty Williams: Funding part of national reform programme

Barnardo’s Cymru, said: “We are urging the Welsh Government to introduce compulsory, age-appropriate sex and relationship education in schools,

including safe use of digital media. “It’s time to listen to children

themselves who are telling us they lack confidence in staying safe online and are saying they need help in understanding the risks and avoiding danger.” In the poll carried out among 1,200

children and teenagers across the UK, 96% said it was important for them to understand the dangers of being online and 94% wanted to know the risks of sharing images of themselves with a stranger online. The charity is also asking MPs to

demand changes to the Children and Social Work Bill when it is debated in the House of Commons to ensure compulsory CSE is introduced in English schools.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed

Khan said: “Online grooming is a very real danger facing all children and nearly half of the girls polled said they were worried about strangers contacting them online.”

Barnardo’s Ambassador and former

Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts said: “With sexting becoming such a huge problem, it’s essential that children know how to protect themselves online. Children have told the government they want school lessons on sex and relationships to help keep them safe. “Now it’s down to the government

to stop letting them fend for themselves online and protect children by providing compulsory sex and relationships education.”

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