UWTSD Early Years celebrates 21st birthday during University Bicentenary year


As the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) marks its bicentennial year, there are also important celebrations underway in the Childhood, Youth and Education Studies discipline where the Early Years team are celebrating 21 years since the first programmes were delivered at UWTSD.

The team are organising a year of events starting with a special evening online on January 17th in the company of Dr Siân Wyn Siencyn, who was responsible for developing the Early Years programmes.

The ‘In Conversation’ evening will see Siân discussing with current and past students, key themes and ideas from the last 21 years linked to children’s wellbeing, rights, and inclusion. It will also be an opportunity to reflect on the innovation provided by the programmes she developed.

Siân and the team advocated from the onset to ban the physical punishment of children, and this year will see the implementation of the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) Bill. The development of the new curriculum for Wales will also provide a focus on child-led learning with an emphasis on curiosity and discovery learning, also a key focus of Siân’s own work.

Dr Siân Wyn Siencyn is looking forward to the evening noting that,

“Twenty years ago, was an exciting time in the field of early childhood studies and for those, like me, who had been in the field for many years, it was great to have the opportunity to establish a new academic discipline at university level. Although some of my ideas were perhaps a bit challenging at the time - for example, no university in Wales, had a full-time flexible learning route - however UWTSD was always fully supportive of this new approach to responding to the students’ needs.”

UWTSD has a strong widening access ethos, so that students can return to study at any points in their lives. Siân was integral in supporting this work. The initial Early Years programmes were flexible learning routes designed to remove the barriers to study for early years practitioners with students able to study in the evening and weekends.  These programmes remain a key part of the early years’ portfolio alongside more traditional day times routes and in recent years the evening provision has been developed into a two-year fast track programme which is unique in Wales.

Siân was also integral in developing Welsh medium programmes which are still at the heart of the Early Years portfolio and provide graduates who are key to leading bilingual early years provision. Initially the early years programmes were delivered on our Carmarthen campus, however the portfolio of degrees are now also delivered on the Swansea campus and in Cardiff allowing the team to widen the key principles and ethos originally developed by Siân.

She adds: “Many of the wonderful students we had, of course, later became lecturers on the programmes themselves and others have gone on to have impressive careers in the field.  I am looking forward very much to seeing some of them again!”

Sioned Saer was one of the first Early Years graduates. She remembers: -

“It seems like only yesterday when, in September 2001, I attended the very first lecture of a new and exciting degree programme called Early Years Education, delivered by Siân Wyn Siencyn on Ethics, Values and the Law, a module which became an integral part of my professional learning journey since that time.

“As an evening student, balancing full time work and evening study was a new challenge, but one which was supported by a new and growing team of supportive, knowledgeable and passionate educators. Following graduation, I was fortunate to join the Early Years team and under Siân's leadership, vision and support, I was empowered to go on to have the most memorable and lifechanging experiences, working alongside the finest early years staff.  It has been a joy and privilege to have been part of a such a unique and special journey and to witness some of the most significant changes within Early Years during this time.”

Senior lecturer Glenda Tinney studied her MA in Early Childhood as part of Siân Wyn Siencyn’s group and is very much looking forward to the evening.

“I was mesmerised by Siân’s lectures. They drew together ground-breaking ideas and research in a very accessible way. I looked forward to lectures and discussions and was challenged to think differently and reflect deeply. I also laughed a great deal as Siân’s humour was also part of the experience. Such opportunities were integral to my understanding of the importance of the early years sector.

“I have also had the very good fortune to join Siân’s early years team which has allowed me to develop my own interest in sustainability and the outdoors for young children. Siân was always leading the way in early years and encouraged the team to do the same. Issues she discussed decades ago, are now still seen as innovative. I look forward to the 17th of January very much.”

This event will kick off a range of events Childhood Youth and Education Studies are planning to celebrate UWTSD’s bicentennial including the graduate evening (week 17th January) and other guest lectures and visits throughout the year.

Note to Editor

For more information contact

Glenda Tinney g.tinney@uwtsd.ac.uk

Tel: 01267 676605

Further Information

Lowri Thomas, Principal Communications and PR Officer

07449 998476