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New funding helps schools tackle bullying

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The Anti-Bullying Alliance and Kidscape have announced new support from the Welsh Government, enabling them to deliver anti-bullying support for schools throughout Wales during the coming year.

The charities’ work will include delivering the far-reaching Anti-Bullying Week campaign to schools in November, and the continued roll out of training for school leaders to embed the Rights, Respect, Equality guidance for schools.

The work will also allow the development of training for school governors to ensure they understand their roles and responsibilities, and the formation of a new Anti-Bullying Forum for Wales, for all youth leaders who are passionate about bullying prevention.

Underlying the charities’ approach is the belief that kindness is more important today than it has ever been. The isolation of the last year has underlined how little acts of consideration and charity can break down barriers and brighten the lives of the people around us. This is one of the reasons, that ‘One Kind Word has been chosen as the theme of Anti-Bullying Week in Wales this year taking place from 15 to 19 of November 2021.

Martha Evans, Director of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, explained how the theme came about:One Kind Word can be a turning point. It can change someone’s perspective. It can change their day. It can change the course of a conversation and break the cycle of bullying.

“Best of all, one kind word leads to another. Kindness fuels kindness. We can all play a part in a chain reaction that powers positivity.”

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The Anti-Bullying Alliance, part of the National Children’s Bureau, and Kidscape are delighted to have the support of the Welsh government to bring Anti-Bullying Week to life in schools in Wales.

In 2019, two-thirds of schools in Wales celebrated Anti-Bullying Week, and nearly 40% of schools marked Odd Socks Day on the first day of the campaign. 86% of schools in Wales said Anti-Bullying Week helped raise awareness of bullying in their school.

Schools in Wales will be able to download free teaching resources and themed assemblies, in the Autumn. These will focus on the activities we can all take, from playgrounds to Parliament, from our phones to our homes, to spread kindness and prevent bullying behaviour.

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And Anti-Bullying Alliance patron, CBBC and CBeebies star Andy Day will be right behind the campaign again with his band Andy and the Odd Socks. The band will release a rocking tune to celebrate Odd Socks Day as part of Anti-Bullying and, whilst we can’t reveal much, if the last year’s songs and videos are anything to go by, it will be a show-stopper.

Andy will highlight Odd Socks Day on the first day of Anti-Bullying Week. There’s a serious message behind the fun: let’s pull on odd socks to show we’re ALL unique and different, and let’s be kind to each other and respect each other’s individuality.

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CBBC and CBeebies star Andy Day with his band Andy and the Odd Socks

Martha Evans, Director of the Anti-Bullying Alliance said: “We’re delighted to be working with Kidscape and the Welsh Government on such a dynamic series of plans to support schools and others working with children to identify, prevent and respond effectively to bullying this year. We’re looking forward to working with organisations and individuals across Wales to deliver our biggest Anti-Bullying Week yet and grow a network of support across Wales to keep children safe from bullying and harm!”

Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language said: “I am delighted that the Welsh Government will, once again, support Anti-Bullying Week, during such a challenging year for our teachers and learners. This will be an excellent opportunity to build on our Rights, Respect, Equality guidance and focus on the importance of kindness and respect.

“Challenging bullying in schools is a key priority for this government, and we are committed to ensuring all our learners feel safe, secure and are supported to achieve their full potential.”

For more details about Anti-Bullying Week visit the Anti-Bullying Alliance’s website: anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/anti-bullying-week.


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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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Education

Council to review Swansea Valley ‘Super School’ decision made by previous administration

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A reprieve could be on the cards for Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools as Neath Port Talbot’s new coalition administration say they want to review the decision made to create a new ‘super school’ in Pontardawe.

The new administration says it wants to establish if an alternative way to bring 21st Century School standards to the Swansea Valley can be achieved, which would be more acceptable to the community.

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The decision to establish a new £22.7m English-medium 3-11 school and specialist Learning Support Centre for pupils with a statement of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Pontardawe to replace Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools was taken by Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet on October 20th, 2021.

The controversial decision triggered a process of communicating with local schools around the next steps and general planning for the construction of the new school and swimming pool.

A successful tender exercise took place to secure a contractor to begin stage one of a two stage process.

Neath Port Talbot Council say that under its own procurement rules, it says it has been necessary to approve the appointment of the contractor to undertake Stage 1 contract works only, with no obligation on the council to proceed to the second stage. Stage 1 includes developing the design information; carrying out assessments of traffic and site conditions; ground investigations; and obtaining planning approval.

The council say that this first stage contract does not commit them to the construction of the school and pool, with a further contract being entered into at Stage 2, which is the actual construction phase. 

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It adds that allowing stage 1 works to progress will ensure that the opportunities to meet the timescales of the October 2021 decision could still be realised if a review does not highlight any changes are needed to the project.

This will avoid further anxiety for the school staff and families due to unnecessary delays, particularly important for those pupils in Godre’rgraig Primary School who are currently educated in temporary accommodation awaiting the new school.

Neath Port Talbot Council say they will now start discussions with Welsh Government Ministers to establish what information they might require from the council. This will inform the consultation process which the council will undertake with stakeholders.

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