- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Categories: Feature, Media
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i am campaigning for the annual 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, which from 25 November to 10 December. As in previous years, I have teamed up with the Women’s Institute to recruit people to the White Ribbon pledge: to never use, excuse or remain silent about men’s violence against women.
This year, we have focussed on young people, linking the campaign to the new relationship and sexuality education curriculum. Speaking with pupils, I have been struck by how they identify ‘respect’ as a top priority, with bullying and harassment uppermost in their minds. We are all aware of the pressures young people face today, particularly online. Upholding the White Ribbon promise is one way to take a stand.
Respect was also on the agenda when I visited tutors and students at Coleg Elidyr in Rhandirmwyn earlier this month. The college and Camphill Community for young adults with learning difficulties and disabilities this week hosted the Natspec Student Voice Parliament for specialist further education. Congratulations to everyone involved.
Education minister Jeremy Miles this week made a statement on Additional Learning Needs (ALN). The previous Welsh Parliament passed legislation to establish a new system aimed at making it easier for children with ALN to get support. But as Sir Michael Barber, former head of the UK Government’s Delivery Unit, put it: “Policy represents just 10% of the task. The remaining 90% is about how to make it happen.” Since 2020, the Welsh Government has invested more than £80 million to support the changes. Much done, much still to do.
ALN reform is part of the Welsh Government’s mission to improve standards and tackle inequalities in education. In a bid to leave no stone unturned, ministers are looking at the school calendar. We have the same school term structure now as 150 years ago, so it’s worth a look! We know that the long summer break can be a strain on families that struggle to find childcare to cover the full 6 weeks – and that disadvantaged learners suffer the most ‘learning loss’ over the summer break. What do you think? The consultation is open until 12 February. Have your say at: https://www.gov.wales/structure-school-year
At the Senedd last week I met young volunteers from Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust keen to have their say on the environment. They had travelled from Machynlleth to express their concerns about pesticides. I assured them that I will always stand up for nature.
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