Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language has addressed the UWTSD and WCEE Early Years Matters Conference


Alun Davies (AM) the Minister for Lifelong learning and Welsh Language has addressed UWTSD’s and The Wales Centre for Equity in Education’s joint annual conference on July 6 in Swansea at the Village Hotel.

The conference entitled, Early Years Matters: Unfolding the Future was a National Conference for Wales and aimed to explore Research, Policy and Practice in the profession. It was attended by 150 early years education providers.

Mr Davies said: “There’s a lot happening at the moment in the world of Welsh Education and we want to work alongside those people who work really hard, day in day, to achieve the best possible education standards across Wales. We want to ensure that we work with a profession that feels valued, appreciated and respected. We will ensure that opportunities are available to people to effectively deliver our outcomes. I want everybody here and elsewhere to seize that opportunity.”

Dr Jane Waters, Assistant Dean of Research and Knowledge Transfer at UWTSD, said : “The challenge ahead of us is to work together to ensure those working with young children have the skills to ensure all children are supported to succeed.

“The Early Years community has the opportunity to grasp this challenge with the support of all those committed to sustainable change.”

The conference showcased a variety of examples of Early Years practice from schools, universities, third sector organisations and policy makers. Speakers included Professor Iram Siraj, Professor of Education, Department of Learning and Leadership, UCL Institute of Education, University College London, who discussed: ‘What further Professional Learning is required to implement the Foundation Phase?’

Professor Iram Siraj said : “I was really pleased to hear from the Minister that the Assembly Government has accepted the 23 recommendations from my stock taking of the foundation phase, much of which was concerned with the necessary skills to enhance children’s learning and well-being.”

Professor Dylan E Jones, UWTSD’s Dean of the Faculty of Education and Communities and Director of Yr Athrofa said : “Both the keynote speaker and the Minister said we need to align higher education expertise with professional practice. This is a key element of the Athrofa’s strategy and belief to help shape education policy and practice in Wales.”

There were further addresses by Ysgol Y Bedol, UWTSD’s Dr Jane Waters, Assistant Dean of Research and Knowledge Transfer and Ann-Marie Gealy, UWTSD’s acting head of School of Early Years. Joe Cudd, Head teacher of Maes Y Morfa Primary School also discussed ‘Collaboration across public services to improve learner outcomes.’

David Egan, Professor of Welsh Education Policy and Director of the Wales Centre for Equity in Education at UWTSD said: “This was a unique opportunity for practitioners, policy makers and researchers in Wales to come together and discuss developments in early years’ education. Hopefully it will become a regular event in the Welsh education calendar.”

A series of workshops were held including; Launch of the Early Years Special Interest Group, Foundation Phase Action Plan, Children’s Voice and the Prevent Duty, Sustained Shared Thinking and Emotional Wellbeing Scale (SSTEW) in Wales, Early Years Pupil Deprivation Grant, Physical Literacy and Welsh Government Childcare Offer.

The conference is the second high profile conference for UWTSD, following a highly successful event at Cardiff’s City Hall attended by experts from a variety of education sectors in Wales that also marked the launch of the University’s Yr Athrofa: Institute of Education.

Note to Editor

The conference in Cardiff, entitled, Securing the Future: Building a Self-improving System provided the education community with an opportunity to understand the priorities that will inform the work of the newly elected administration; to take stock of the progress the sector has made in building a self-improving system; and to explore the challenges these priorities will set for leaders of education in the coming years. 

During the event, Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor of UWTSD, introduced the Wales Education Commission, established to bring together distinguished individuals who are considered leading thinkers with a record of outstanding success in their own fields of education.

And Steve Davies, Director of Education for the Welsh Government gave the key note address - Securing the Future - and also launched Yr Athrofa: Institute of Education.

The Conference followed a successful event held at the Marriot Hotel in Swansea in May to launch the Professional Learning Partnership with secondary and primary schools across Wales.

Yr Athrofa: Institute of Education is a coalition of international leaders of education working to transform education and transform lives in Wales and has three elements to its work.

The first is the establishment of an Education Commission for Wales.  Leading international education experts have pledged their support to the establishment of the Wales Education Commission to work alongside Yr Athrofa: Institute for Education

The Education Commission has been established to ensure that Yr Athrofa learns from the best education research, policy and practice internationally. The Education Commission contributes to the strategic direction of Yr Athrofa and challenges its practice and performance.

At the core of Yr Athrofa is the Professional Learning Partnership – over 100 schools working with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David to develop and deliver a new form of teacher education. This partnership, launched on 16th May 2016, has started work on improving the way in which professional learning is planned, provided and evaluated. At the core of this work is the drive to embed research into education, to shape what we do and also to become part of the day to day work of teachers.

The University is also establishing Centres of Research Excellence to ensure that Yr Athrofa has the knowledge and understanding required to deliver its mission. Building on its current strengths in Early Years education, Equity, Welsh Language and Culture, Yr Athrofa is working with the University of Glasgow to create a research Centre for Educational Assessment; with colleagues in Scotland, Eire and in the regional consortia, to develop an Educational Leadership Centre; and with experts across Wales and beyond to develop excellence in mathematics education.

Yr Athrofa: the Institute of Education has an all-Wales reach.  It will ensure that the Professional Learning Partnership; the Centres of Research Excellence and the Wales Education Commission work to achieve its mission of “Transforming Education … Transforming Lives”.