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Swansea Council goes to consultation on plans to grow Welsh Medium education

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Parents, pupils, teachers and the wider community are set to be asked for their views on plans to continue to increase the number of Welsh speaking young people in Swansea.

Swansea Council aims to increase provision for Welsh-medium education in the city including for pre-school children and for post 16 study for both academic and vocational courses.

The plans are contained in the council’s updated Welsh in Education Strategic Plan which is designed to help Swansea to play its part in helping the Welsh Government achieve its target of one million Welsh speakers by the year 2050.

During the last 20 years the number of pupils in Swansea accessing Welsh medium education has doubled from 2,581 in 2001 to 5,228 at the start of this year.

This has been supported by the opening of a further three Welsh-medium primary schools and one additional Welsh-medium comprehensive school bringing the numbers to 10 and 2 respectively.

Thanks to the 21st Century Schools Programme which is jointly funded by Swansea Council and the Welsh Government a record £170m is currently being invested to improve school buildings and facilities across both Welsh and English medium schools.

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This includes additional Welsh-medium places which are being created with the opening of the new and enhanced accommodation for YGG Tan-y-lan and YGG Tirdeunaw early next year.

Additional classroom space at YGG Bryn y Môr and YGG Y Login Fach will follow and the council will also continue to work with early providers to increase the provision for pre-school Welsh language provision.

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The plan also sets how the council will work with partners to increase opportunities for young people to use their Welsh language skills outside of school and how it will build on good work being done in English medium schools to teach Welsh.

Swansea Council’s Cabinet is being asked to agree to a public consultation on the plans.

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Cabinet Member for Education Improvement, Learning and Skills, Robert Smith, said: “The Welsh Government has set a target of growing the number of Welsh speakers to one million by the year 2050 and Swansea is keen to play its part in helping to reach this ambitious target.

“The number of pupils being taught through the medium of Welsh in our schools has increased markedly and our strategic plan sets out how we will build on this success.

“In the plan we include the many other ways we will support the growth of bilingualism and if Cabinet agrees to the consultation I would hope as many people as possible give their views when it is launched at the end of September.

“In promoting bilingualism, we are giving all our children an opportunity to thrive in the language of their choice, increasing their life opportunities and by learning more than one language, facilitating the learning of other languages.”

Lead image: Artists impression of new Tirdaunau Primary School (Image: Powell Dobson Architects / Swansea Council)

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Sport

Welsh Varsity returns after two-year hiatus

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Following a two-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the date for the 2022 Welsh Varsity between Cardiff and Swansea Universities has been confirmed.

Swansea will host this year’s week-long festival of sport, with most fixtures and the showpiece rugby matches taking place on Wednesday 27 April.

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The Welsh Varsity initially began as a rugby match between Cardiff and Swansea Universities at the Cardiff Arms Park in 1997 but has since grown year-on-year and is now the largest student multi-sport event in the UK.

Throughout the week-long festival of sport, students will compete in more than 30 different sports for the coveted Welsh Varsity Shield, including: Ultimate Frisbee; swimming; golf; fencing; squash; boxing; basketball and hockey.

Cardiff University currently retain both the Welsh Varsity Shield and Cup, following their victories in 2019.

Georgia Smith, Sports Officer at Swansea University Students’ Union, said: “I’m so excited to see Welsh Varsity returning, and if that wasn’t good enough, it’s in Swansea! After what’s been a tough couple of years for students, I know that everyone at Swansea University will be thrilled to see Sketty Lane bleed green once again. 

“It will be my pleasure to welcome current students and alumni back to see the biggest varsity in Wales to celebrate sport and friendly rivalry.

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“My message to all Swansea students is get ready to sing and chant for Swansea and show Cardiff what the Green and White Army’s made of!”

Megan Somerville, VP Sports and Athletic Union President at Cardiff University Students’ Union, said: “I am thrilled to be involved in the long-awaited return of Welsh Varsity. Preparations are already underway for this amazing event that enables our clubs to showcase their talent on and off the pitch.

“This huge event is a centrepiece of the student calendar and we can’t wait to welcome back fans both new and old to support Team Cardiff. Make sure you’re a part of the biggest student sporting event in the UK this April and watch Cardiff bring the cup and shield home.”

Ticket details and the full event schedule will be announced in due course.

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UWTSD

New exhibition features stories of how the Windrush Generation made their homes in Wales

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A new exhibition opening at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) Lampeter campus today (Tuesday 25 January), features stories of how the Windrush Generation Cymru made their homes in Wales.

‘Windrush Cymru – Our Voices, Our Stories, Our History’ will be on display at the Library until April, to celebrate the bicentenary of the University, and as part of the exhibition’s tour at venues across Wales.

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In 1948, the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex carrying over 1,000 passengers from the Caribbean Islands. They bravely left their friends and families back home in response to Britain’s call for post-war workers. Over the next 40 years, thousands followed in their footsteps, with many making Wales their new home.

The exhibition, delivered by Race Council Cymru and funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, features the stories of more than 40 of those Windrush Generation Cymru, told in their own words.

It is an opportunity for visitors to learn about their journeys to Wales, and the challenges they faced in building a new life in a country far from their homelands – finding work and the attitudes of people towards them.

The stories show how the Windrush Generation Cymru, and their descendants, have made their mark in all walks of Welsh life: through the jobs they worked, careers they built, the children they raised, and the contributions they made to our communities and culture.

Professor Uzo Iwobi, OBE, founder of Race Council Cymru and initiator of The Windrush Cymru – Our Voices, Our Stories, Our History project, said: “I am proud to have supported the Elders for many years, hearing their appeals for their stories to be captured for prosperity and continue their legacy for their children and grandchildren. I’m delighted that this project and exhibition have come to fruition – it’s incredibly important to see these stories being passed down to the next generation.”

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Vernesta Cyril OBE, said: “At last society has recognised the Windrush Generation, so our stories can be told for generations to come”.

Mrs Roma Taylor, Founder and Chair of the Windrush Cymru Elders, added  “I’m so pleased and so proud of this exhibition, it’s a precious moment for each and every one of us. It’s our stories and if we don’t get them out then no one will know. The Windrush is a very painful and emotional subject but all of our stories have to go out. It’s important to us, our children and our grandchildren and for schools. Everyone has to know we have been through a lot. God has brought us through. Tiger Bay was the best place to live, I came over in ‘59. Everybody was for everybody, everyone looked after everyone and you had no problems.”

UWTSD Photojournalism & Documentary Photography graduate Antonia Osuji, who is currently working as an intern with Race Council Cymru, has worked primarily through the medium of photography to help record and document their stories for the exhibition.

Alison Harding, Executive Head of Library Services at UWTSD said: I’m so glad we are able to make this remarkable exhibition accessible to the community of Lampeter and the surrounding area. Telling the stories of the Windrush generation in Wales is an important landmark for our nation. It is key we listen and learn from their stories in their own voices, this is their history but also the history of Wales.”

(Lead image: UWTSD)

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Carmarthen

Save the Cinema Film make scenery at UWTSD Set & Design Production Workshop

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The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) Set Design Production Scenery Workshop has revealed its involvement in the newly released ‘Save the Cinema film for Sky.

The film ‘Save the Cinema’ is a true story looking back at Liz Evans’s campaign to save the Lyric Theatre from closing in Carmarthen. Stars such as Jonathan Pryce, Samantha Morton, Tom Felton, Adeel Akhtar and Susan Wokoma feature in the film.

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As the production started, art director Gwyn Eiddior visited UWTSD’s Carmarthen Campus to see if there were any props or scenery he could possibly use for the film as it was being filmed in Carmarthen. After requesting on social media later that day for use of a workshop to build sets for the film in Carmarthen, Lecturer Dave Atkinson suggested for them to use the facilities at UWTSD.

As a result of this, the film’s construction team were based at UWTSD’s Set Design Production Scenery Workshop, meaning that all of the construction work and scenic art created for the film was made on campus. Along with Dave who was employed as the workshop manager, two graduates from the BA Set Design & Production course, Mari Hullett and Ashley Phillips were fortunate to gain work from this project in the scenic art and graphics departments.

They worked alongside the experienced production designer Jonathan Houlding who has  worked on high-end screen productions such as ‘Love Actually’, ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘The Martian.’ Dave adds,

“We created a variety of scenery for the film. Largely dressing for the Lyric Theatre, and the theatre scenery they were filming on. The hairdresser’s salon was the largest build which was an empty shop. We had to reinstall a whole salon in there. One fun element to make was the Big Breakfast set – we made the bedroom where they interviewed people.”

UWTSD Lecturer Dave Atkinson at the University’s set design workshop (Image: UWTSD)

Graduate Mari Hullett said, “Working on ‘Save The Cinema’ as a scenic artist was an amazing opportunity and I will always value my time being involved in the production as an experience to take further into my career.

“I am extremely grateful for the chance of working alongside the friendly and highly skilled scenic and construction team as I was able to learn so much from them. I was also able to work on different roles within the art department such as graphic props, which I greatly appreciated as I got to experience a broader spectrum of skills involved on a film set.

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“As a whole, it was a really heart-warming experience to be a part of a project that involved my university town and the wider community.

“This was also my first professional role on a film project which has opened my eyes to the growing opportunities within the film industry in Wales. I am very excited to see this on-screen!”

An experience like this has been a fantastic opportunity, and a chance for the students to have an insight into the industry.

Dave Atkinson adds: “Welcoming Sky Cinema onto campus has given UWTSD Carmarthen the opportunity to not only showcase the high-quality practitioners that graduate from the Set Design & Production course, but to also exhibit the facilities we have, such as the scenery workshop which is equipped with top of the range tools and machinery.”

(Lead image: UWTSD)

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