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Termly Notification to Schools: Autumn Term 2009
Forward Look from the Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills
I hope you and your colleagues have returned refreshed from the summer break and are looking forward to what looks like a very busy autumn term.
Firstly, I’d like send my congratulations for the excellent exam results achieved this year. Credit goes to all the hard work by teachers, other staff in your schools and young people which underpin this success. It is so pleasing to see further increases in GCSE, AS and A Level marks, especially at the top grades, and I am also delighted that higher numbers are now entering and achieving intermediate and advanced Welsh Baccalaureate diplomas.
You will have received a letter from me prior to the start of term to update you on developments relating to swine flu. In essence, the message is for schools to stay open wherever possible, unless there are particular instances where vulnerable students would, for health reasons need to be protected from exposure to the virus. The letter has been posted on the advice pages of the Welsh Assembly Government’s web site in the swine flu section at www.wales.gov.uk/swineflu. This site is well worth visiting on a regular basis as it is frequently updated with the latest information. Other good sources of information are the National Public Health Service - www.nphs.wales.nhs.uk; the flu information line on 0800 1 513 513 and the NHS Direct site – visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk or telephone 0845 4647
The education sector in Wales is continuing radical transformation. This Autumn, our pioneering Foundation Phase curriculum will be introduced to four and five year olds, so that children can continue to benefit as they move up to the next school year. I am inspired by the imaginative way in which many of you have transformed outdoor spaces into exciting learning environments. For our young people, I am also impressed at the work schools and other learning environments are doing to widen the options available as part of our 14 – 19 learning pathways initiative.
The school effectiveness framework is the overarching policy which will bring a greater alignment to all work aimed at improving the education and wellbeing of our school-aged learners in Wales. The framework will also be aligned with Estyn’s new inspection framework, with both being introduced in September 2010. A series of conferences will take place this October which will explain the impact of the SEF on education in Wales. They will outline the vital information which schools need in order to plan effectively for the new framework. Schools are able to register for the event at www.sefconferences.co.uk.
From the 12th October, increased safeguards will be introduced which further enhance the protection of children. The three current barring lists (POCA, POVA and List 99) will be replaced by the creation of two new barred lists administered by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). Employers will have a duty to refer to the ISA any information about individuals who may pose a risk and there will also be criminal penalties for employers who knowingly take on barred individuals. The eligibility criteria for Enhanced Criminal Record Bureau checks will be extended to include anyone working in a regulated activity. In terms of the definition of “frequent” or “intensive” contact, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families in England recently announced that he has asked Sir Roger Singleton, the Chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority to look again at this definition.
The Welsh Assembly Government will also no longer have a role in the referral of cases of professional misconduct. Separate Welsh Assembly Government guidance will be issued shortly on the new referral routes.
Detailed information and resources on the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) can be accessed at www.isa-gov.org.uk. You can register to receive regular updates. A step by step guide on employing people that will come into contact with children is set out in the attachments below. If you have any queries on the VBS, you can contact the Vetting and Barring Scheme contact centre on 0300 123 1111
In relation to vulnerable people, the UK Government’s Forced Marriage Unit has published a revised set of multi-agency practice guidelines for frontline professionals to promote closer working relationships to better identify and protect children and adults at risk of forced marriage. A copy of the guidelines has been sent to junior and secondary schools in Wales. The guidelines can also be accessed from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at www.fco.gov.uk/en/fco-in-action/nationals/forced-marriage-unit. For more specific help and support, you can also contact The Forced Marriage by telephone - 020 7008 0151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This November sees the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This historic treaty forms the backbone of our children and young people policy in Wales. The anniversary gives us an opportunity to celebrate our progress to date and consider what still needs to be done to support our youngest citizens to enjoy all their civil and human rights. As part of this I will be launching the UNCRC Action Plan for Wales on 20th November and to further raise awareness, we are developing workshop tools and supporting resources to help explain how the UNCRC relates to every child and young persons in Wales as well as their parents and the adults who work with them. The resource will be available to download from the end of October and I would encourage everyone to use it. Please visit www.uncrcletsgetitright.co.uk from late October to download details.
The Respect Tour will also stopping off at several venues across Wales this November. The anti-bullying roadshow is sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government and organised by Welsh Anti-bullying network members – NSPCC Cymru, Stonewall Cymru, Barnados Cymru and Children in Wales. The tour is a great opportunity for pupils and school practitioners to learn, through interactive workshops and performance, how to tackle bullying in schools. The below attachments give more information about your nearest event.
Many adults as well as children look forward to Bonfire night, however safety is paramount. Firebrake Wales, the Welsh fire safety charity, has produced a pack of materials to promote Bonfire Night safety to children of Infant and Primary school age. The pack includes resources for fun activities aimed at encouraging group discussion and class participation around Bonfire Night and how to stay safe. The materials are available for schools to download from www.firebrake.org. Firebrake would also be delighted to receive, via email, photographs of any class displays and artwork to put on their website.
The Learner Travel Measure will introduce a Travel Behaviour Code, which sets out the standards of behaviour expected of learners when they are travelling to and from school. The Code will give schools new powers to take action against pupils who misbehave on their school journey. It will apply to all learners aged 5-19 and all modes of transport. The Code will become effective from 4th January 2010. The Welsh Assembly Government will be sending out material for information and dissemination towards the end of this term.
The Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes (WNHSS) is the programme working to ensure that every school is a healthy school, which promotes the health and well-being of all pupils and staff. We have declared targets for all maintained schools to be actively involved by March 2010. Over 90% of maintained schools are currently actively involved, and local healthy school co-ordinators will be approaching the few remaining schools to secure involvement over the next two terms. We have recently introduced the WNHSS National Quality Award. Schools apply for independent assessment for the National Quality Award after 9 years involvement in the scheme.
For the first time this year we have produced an annual report which includes web links to all document produced for schools and their governing bodies over the past academic year (2008-09). The aim is to draw all guidance together into one report that will act as a quick reference point for your school and governing bodies. The report can be accessed at http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/publications/reports/annualreport0809/?lang=en
We have also made changes to the way the Termly Notification newsletter is presented. These are the first steps in making the newsletter more user-friendly. We hope that it will allow you to find the information relevant to you more quickly but let us know what you think by contacting us at email@example.com
I wish you every success this term and thank you for your continuing support.
Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills