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Welsh Government

Childcare Offer extended as providers receive funding boost

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The Childcare Offer will be extended to parents in education and training and parents on adoption leave, the Welsh Government has announced.

From September, parents in education and training and parents who are on adoption leave, if it is in line with the child’s Adoption Support Plan, will be eligible for up to 30 hours of government funded early education and childcare for children aged three and four.

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Currently workless households are not eligible for government-funded childcare in addition to their early education entitlement.

The Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan said: “Our Programme for Government outlined our pledge to provide more childcare for parents in education and training and we are committed to supporting working families with the costs of childcare. It is fantastic we are able to continue expanding the Childcare Offer to increase the number of families accessing the offer.”

“Increasing support with childcare costs for parents in education and training reflects the value we place on supporting people to improve their employment prospects by gaining qualifications, retraining or changing career paths.”

The Welsh Government has also announced an extra £6 million per year to increase the hourly rate for childcare providers from £4.50 to £5 per hour from April. The 11% increase will help provide greater sustainability across the childcare sector in Wales. Ministers have committed to reviewing the rate at least every three years. The maximum amount settings can charge for food will also increase from £7.50 to £9 a day, reflecting the increase in both food prices and utility and energy prices.

In addition, a further £3.5 million will be invested in Flying Start childcare and £1.5 million will be used to support the continued alignment of the Foundation Phase nursery and childcare funding rates under the Childcare Offer.

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Ms Morgan said: “We want Wales to be a great place to grow up and giving children the best start in life is central to this ambition. We will continue to review the scheme and the rate paid to providers to ensure parents can continue to benefit from the Childcare Offer and high-quality care and education is provided to children across Wales.”

Claire Protheroe, National Manager for Wales for the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY Cymru) said: “PACEY Cymru welcome the announcement on the rise in the rate to be paid to providers delivering the Childcare Offer for Wales. This follows engagement with the sector to hear their views and it is positive these have been reflected on and valued. 

“There have been, and continue to be, challenges for the sector with Covid-19 and the rising costs of living impacting on confidence in relation to ongoing financial viability.  In particular PACEY Cymru are concerned about the ongoing decline in registered childminders in Wales and we know the sector is in a fragile place.   

“This announcement is a positive step forward in relation to supporting wider financial sustainability of all settings in Wales and recognition of the rising cost of delivery of quality childcare and play services.”

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Rugby

Wales Civil Service victorious in historic rugby match

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Rugby teams from Wales and England Civil Service Sports Council (CSSC), came together at Cardiff Arms Park last night to replicate a historic match that took place in 1923 between the Welsh and English Civil Service.

Wales were victorious on the night, beating England in a 51-26 result. The home team came out on top in a high-spirited friendly match which showcased the best of Civil Service Rugby in front of hundreds of spectators. The match also raised over £1,000 for the Wooden Spoon children’s charity of rugby.

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Civil Service Rugby Football Club were one of 20 clubs who founded the Rugby Football Union on 26 January 1871. The Civilian, known as The Accredited Organ of the Civil Service, reported on 1 April 1922 that soon after the formation of the Civil Service Sports Council (CSSC), sports clubs were seeking to organise themselves into sports associations.

On 21st March, a meeting of representatives of Civil Service Rugby Football Clubs was held at Lake Buildings, St James Park, London. Draft rules were passed, and a Union of Civil Service Rugby Football Clubs was formed. A provisional committee was appointed to carry on till the first Annual Meeting to be held in September 1922.

The Union of Civil Service Rugby Clubs confirmed fixtures against the Navy, Air Force, United Hospitals and United Banks. This match remembers the original fixture between the English and Welsh Civil Service.

The Civil Service Sports Council Rugby fixture between Wales & England In recognition and celebration of 100 years of the Civil Service Sports Council at Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff, Wales. (Image: John Smith).

Matt Bazeley, CEO at CSSC, said: “Over the past year and throughout 2022 we have been celebrating the rich heritage of CSSC and the important role we have played in the nation’s sporting history over the past 100 years. As a founding member of the Rugby Football Union, it has been a real honour to see this match come together to both recognise and champion Civil Service Rugby and congratulations to the Wales team on their victory.”

The rugby match joins a series of events being hosted across the country to celebrate 100 years of sports within CSSC. Proceeds from the match ticket sales will be donated to the Wooden Spoon Rugby Charity.

Part funded by the Cabinet Office and specifically designed for civil servants and public sector workers, CSSC is an exclusive not-for-profit membership organisation inspiring over 140,000 members to explore new ways to be active and healthy.  To find out more about CSSC and whether you are eligible for a membership, please visit: https://www.cssc.co.uk/join

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(Lead image: John Smith)

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Welsh Government

Independent review of floods announced to help Wales adapt to climate change

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An independent review of flooding events across Wales during the winter of 2020-21 has been launched, the Welsh Government has announced.

Led by one of the UK’s leading barristers, the review will help ensure Wales learns from previous flooding events and embeds good practice for the future.

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The review, which is part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, will consider evidence from investigations carried out by local authorities and Natural Resources Wales, as well as other relevant reports.

Since Storm Dennis wreaked havoc across the country in February 2020, Wales has experienced a rapid increase in the frequency of storm and flood events than at any other time in recorded history.

Heavy rainfall and storms are likely to become more frequent as a result of climate change.

The Minister for Climate Change has appointed Professor Elwen Evans QC, one of the UK’s leading barristers, to lead the review.

Professor Evans will be tasked with establishing key findings, shared concerns, lessons learned, successes and good practice, as well as identifying areas for improvement.

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Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said: “The terrible flooding we have witnessed in Wales in recent years is a stark reminder of the challenges we face from climate change. These increasingly frequent, powerful weather events create widespread trauma, disruption and financial loss for families and businesses.

“We have put a thorough flood strategy in place and recently announced the largest ever package of investment to reduce flood risk across Wales, with more than £214m over the next three years to help protect at least 45,000 homes from flood risk.

“It is vital we learn from previous events to prepare us for the future, and I am delighted Professor Evans, who brings substantial experience and authority, has agreed to lead the independent review.”

Designated Member, Sian Gwenllian said: “We have seen the devastating impact flooding can have on our communities and businesses. Alongside taking action on climate change and ensuring Wales plays its part to tackle it, addressing flood prevention and learning from the devastating 2020-21 floods will make a difference to people’s safety and peace of mind across Wales.

“I have been working closely to develop the scope and approach to delivery of this important review as part of the Co-operation Agreement, and I look forward to the findings.”

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The announcement of the independent review follows the record £214m investment in flood risk as part of the Co-operation Agreement between Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, which will protect at least 45,000 homes.

This will support Flood Risk Management Authorities, accelerate the delivery of prevention schemes, and build resilience in the system as climate change intensifies.

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Education

Funding for music education trebled to the tune of £13.5m

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Every child will have the opportunity to benefit from music education the Welsh Government have announced as part of plans for a national music service.

As the National Plan for Music Education is published, the Minister for Education has confirmed funding will be trebled, with £13.5m being invested over the next three years.

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The Government say the plan will make access to music education fairer and more consistent across Wales, with a particular focus on learners from low-income households and those with Additional Learning Needs.

Support will be available for children and young people to access and progress with music tuition, with learners from disadvantaged and under-represented groups supported to join music ensembles.

The plan includes a review on music tutors’ terms and conditions, to ensure they are treated equitably and are recognised properly.

It also includes a ‘First Experiences’ programme to offer children in primary schools a minimum of half a term of musical instrument taster sessions, delivered by trained and skilled music practitioners.

A ‘Making Music with Others’ initiative forms part of the plan, including opportunities for children and young people in secondary schools to gain industry experience through working alongside musicians and creative industries

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The will also be a new national instrument and equipment library to support access to a resource bank to be shared across Wales.

The Welsh Government say these programmes will be rolled out from September 2022, supporting schools and settings to give all children and young people from the ages of 3 to 16 the opportunity to learn to play an instrument as well as singing and making music in our schools and our communities.

Plans mean the National Music Service will operate as a ‘hub’, with the Welsh Local Government Association co-ordinating the Music Service’s programmes with a wide range of organisations. It will help schools and settings in their delivery of the Curriculum for Wales and provide more diverse opportunities for children and young people to experience music outside schools and settings.

First Minister Mark Drakeford and Education Minister Jeremy Miles visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea for the launch of the National Music Service (Image: Mike Hall)
First Minister Mark Drakeford and Education Minister Jeremy Miles visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea for the launch of the National Music Service (Image: Mike Hall)
First Minister Mark Drakeford and Education Minister Jeremy Miles visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea for the launch of the National Music Service (Image: Mike Hall)

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford and the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea to see a cluster of primary school children taking part in a ‘Play Along’ session led by Swansea Music Service.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The establishment of a National Music Service for Wales is an important commitment in our Programme for Government and I’m delighted that we are delivering on this pledge.

“Learning an instrument was a formative part of my upbringing and a lack of money should not be a barrier to any young person who wants to learn to play music. We are fortunate in Wales to have a strong tradition of school, county and national ensembles, and we want to make sure that our children and young people are able to play a full part in these. This funding will support music services in schools and within the community to help nurture our young musical talent.”

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The Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said: “Our vision is for all children and young people across Wales, regardless of background, to have the chance to learn to play an instrument.

“I remember how important it was to me to be able to have music tuition when I was in school and to learn the baritone and to play in brass ensembles. I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to access music tuition – the chance to learn an instrument and develop musical skills is too often limited by cost and affordability nowadays, so we’re making this significant investment to deliver a range of activities for our children and young people, so that they can learn and experience the joy of music.

“The development of the National Music Service will ensure that we nurture our next generation and continue to produce new talent and showcase Wales to the world.”

WLGA Chief Executive Chris Llewelyn said: “We are proud to work with the Welsh Government on delivering this vital service to children across Wales. Many families in Wales can’t afford an instrument, and this funding will go a long way to opening doors to children across Wales to have the opportunity of learning an instrument.

“Playing an instrument and reading music is a very important skill for a child, and music brings enormous joy to children. Local authorities believe that children across Wales will have better access to instruments, and this plan will develop many future talented musicians, and support pupils to develop their musical skills.”

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(Lead image: Mike Hall)

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