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Education

Lord Mayor opens new Swansea school for vulnerable pupils

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A new school that is supporting some of Swansea’s most vulnerable young people has been officially opened by the city’s Lord Mayor.

Maes Derw brings together services that were spread over four different locations in Swansea under one roof where staff support pupils to remain or return to schools within their communities.

The £9.64m investment was jointly funded by Swansea Council and the Welsh Government under the 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme.

Due to current restrictions Swansea’s Lord Mayor Mark Child visited the school for the socially distanced ceremony once pupils had gone home for the day.

Lord Mayor of Swansea, Cllr Mark Child officially opened Maes Derw school (Image: Swansea Council)

Cllr Child said: “I’m honoured to be asked to officially open such an important new school that will support some of Swansea’s most vulnerable young people.

“The building looks absolutely fantastic but what has struck me is how pupils can now be offered a much wider curriculum alongside vocational training giving them far greater opportunities.”

Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Education Improvement, Learning and Skills, Jennifer Raynor said: “As well as providing a new home to the Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), the Home Tuition team and Behaviour Support team, it also includes a new Halfway House.

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“Bringing these services together under one roof has transformed the support the council provides to pupils either outside or at risk of leaving mainstream education.

“Many of the pupils have complex social, emotional and behavioural difficulties which if not fully addressed reduces their chances of future employment and wellbeing.”

Pupils have been moved in to Maes Derw gradually from their previous accommodation during the last two months.

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Council Leader Rob Stewart said: “Maes Derw is just part of a £150m investment in new and improved schools buildings in Swansea that means thousands of children are being taught in the very best surroundings giving them every opportunity to reach their full potential.

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“This is the largest investment ever seen in our schools in Swansea and we will be announcing further projects as part of this programme during the year ahead.”

The school was built by contractors Kier Construction who worked safely throughout the coronavirus pandemic to complete the development.

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Jason Taylor operations director Kier Regional building Western & Wales, said: “Collaboration has been at the heart of this project and over the past two years we have worked closely with Swansea Council, Welsh Government and the school’s headteacher to build a tailored space which meets the needs of its pupils.

“Maes Derw offers a range of modern, first-class facilities, with classrooms for large and small groups as well as spaces for activities, such as design and food technology. To aid student’s mental wellbeing the building has large windows to highlight its surroundings, including trees and fields.  

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“Throughout the duration of this project, we have looked to inspire students of the school by showcasing the range of roles and routes to entry available within the construction industry, by hosting careers talks and carrying out site tours using Matterport technology.  We also worked with local supply chain partner, of which 80 percent are from the Swansea community which is part of our commitment to leaving lasting legacies in areas in which we work.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)


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Gower College Swansea

Sketty Hall Business School appoints Advisory Board

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Sketty Hall Business School has announced the formation of its Advisory Board – key industry figures who will help shape the future of education and training across South Wales and beyond.

With the support of Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme, Gower College Swansea has recently transformed the much loved Georgian building into a contemporary Business School.

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As well as being home to a range of professional, management and degree programmes, Sketty Hall Business School will also host high profile training events where academics, captains of industry and leading sporting personalities will inspire both businesses and individuals.

The Business School will also look to introduce the concepts of management and leadership to all its students, enabling them to become the inspirational leaders of the future.

“We are delighted to announce Sketty Hall Business School’s Advisory Board which will support Gower College Swansea in further understanding employers’ needs, and strengthen our relationships with key industries. The Board will help ensure that we are delivering the right skills for both now and in the future,” says Director of Skills and Business Development, Paul Kift.

“Delivering a cutting-edge, employer-led curriculum which supports economic development, and which is aligned to regional and Welsh priorities, is our key strategic aim as a Board.”

“Board members will have a major voice in shaping the business skills that are available across the region, benefitting learners and College staff whilst also creating a pipeline of talent for organisations. This will help to develop the prosperity and productivity of the wider business community. Together, we can also create skills solutions that will assist the Swansea Bay City Deal – enabling economic regeneration, development and growth.”

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The Sketty Hall Business School Advisory Board members are:

  • (Chair) Chris Foxall, Finance Director, Riversimple and Swansea Bay City Deal Economic Strategy Board Chair.
  • Deb Bowen-Rees, Chair of South West Wales Branch, IoD, formerly CEO of Cardiff Airport, and current NED at Milford Haven Port Authority.
  • Ian Price, Wales Director, CBI.
  • Lucie Thomas, Director of Recruitment, Learning and Development, Pobl Housing Association.
  • Adrian Sutton, CEO, Vortex IoT.
  • Lucy Cohen, Co-founder of Mazuma, and Swansea Bay City Deal Economic Strategy Board member.
  • Tony Roberts, Head of Wales, Vodafone.
  • Adrian Chard, Strategic Human Resources and Organisational Development Manager, Swansea Council.
  • Louise Harris, CEO, Tramshed Tech.
  • Lisa Mart, General Manager, Swansea Arena/Ambassador Theatre Group.
  • Alison Orrells, Managing Director, Safety Letterbox Company.
  • Michael Kavanagh, Development Director, Short Brothers.
  • Matt Wintle, Head of Learning & Development, Admiral.

“It’s wonderful to see Sketty Hall’s outstanding redevelopment being put to such good use as the home of the Sketty Hall Business School,” says Chris Foxall. “I’m very pleased to be chairing the business school’s advisory board which is made up of some of the best local employers and businesses leaders in the Swansea Bay City region.

“As the markets and economy continue to change, the demands on our business managers and leaders are increasingly challenging and complex. It’s important that the requirements of businesses help to inform the skills and training provision being developed by our education partners so that businesses can remain competitive and fulfil their potential growth.

“The Swansea Bay City region is one of the best places for ambitious companies looking to grow and invest for the future and, clearly, the best investment any company can make is in its people. Gower College Swansea wants to make sure they’re offering courses that protect those investments and, at the same time, give their students the best chance at a successful career in business and management.”

“I’m delighted that, with the support of Welsh Government, we have been able to make these excellent facilities at Sketty Hall Business School available for all of our students,” says Gower College Swansea Principal, Mark Jones. “And now, with the support of our new Advisory Board, we can begin to make a real impact in this key area for all businesses.”

Lead image: Gower College Swansea Advisory Board Sketty Hall (Image: Adrian White)

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Education

Neath Abbey Welsh medium primary school given go-ahead

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Neath Port Talbot Council’s new Rainbow Coalition Cabinet has agreed to move forward with plans to open Neath Port Talbot’s first ever Welsh medium primary “starter school” at Neath Abbey.

The new Welsh medium starter school in premises previously occupied by Abbey Primary School at St John’s Terrace, Neath Abbey, could welcome its first pupils next January if fully approved.

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Part of the council’s strategy to increase Welsh medium education across the county borough, the Cabinet agreed to move the starter school plan to its next stage – publication of a statutory proposal to establish the new school.

The starter school model is used when establishing a new school, gradually allowing the facilities and staff to be used efficiently while the school grows to its full potential.

Under the plans, £200,000 would be set aside for refurbishments and improvements including the provision of learning walls and digital equipment ensuring the school can deliver the new curriculum.

Cllr Nia Jenkins, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Training, said: “This council has a ten year target to increase the number of Year 1 children taught through the medium of Welsh from 16.8% in 2020/21 to 31% (460 pupils) by 2032 and this proposed new school will help reach that target.

“It also complements the national vision for the Welsh language, to have a million Welsh speakers by 2050.”

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(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Education

Pontarddulais school’s physical education department supported by Amazon

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A comprehensive school in Pontarddulais has received a £1,000 donation from the Amazon fulfilment centre in Swansea.

Pontarddulais Comprehensive School plans to use the donation to purchase new safety mats for use in PE lessons.

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They say this will allow their pupils to enjoy activities such as gymnastics and inspire more pupils to follow in the footsteps of their peers who have recently succeeded at a national level.

Christopher Law, General Manager at Amazon in Swansea, said: “At Amazon, we recognise the value of extra-curricular development, and we are pleased to lend a helping hand to Pontarddulais Comprehensive School with this donation. We wish the school well as it seeks to inspire and engage the leaders of tomorrow through both academic and physical education.”

Nigel Hughes, who is an engineer at Amazon in Swansea and put the school forward for the donation, added: “My children receive a fantastic education and genuine support at Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, and it’s great that Amazon is providing this donation to help fund new equipment.”

Julie Evans, Area Coordinator for Health and Wellbeing at Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, said: “We want to thank Christopher and the Amazon team in Swansea. This kind and generous donation will support us in continuing to create the high-quality facilities required for a first-class educational experience. It will be a great addition allowing us to strengthen and expand our school’s physical activity opportunities.”

The donation to Pontarddulais Comprehensive School was made as part of Amazon’s programme to support the communities in and around its operating locations across the UK.

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(Lead image: Pontarddulais Comprehensive School)

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