Sixth formers in Bishop Hedley High School

Education is 'key' say voters

On the eve of tomorrow's council elections, voters in the South Wales Valleys say education is a key priority for them in the ballot box.

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Report shows Rhondda youth optimistic about their future

Chris Bryant with pupils
Pupils from across Rhondda helped with questions for the report Credit: Chris Bryant MP

Young people in the Rhondda feel confident about their future despite being less likely to go to University or take up full time employment after their studies.

Just over half of pupils expect to go on to further education after A level compared 79% of other students in Wales.

MP Chris Bryant has helped conduct the report on the aspirations of people between the ages of 15-19 in his constituency.

Pupils were asked to compile questions on their feelings towards employment, future earnings alcohol, drugs, relationships and higher education.

Only 38% of the young people questioned said they would stay in the Rhondda, with the rest admitting to moving to Cardiff or abroad in the future.

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Frontline experience for Welsh schoolchildren

soldier in trench
Re enactment at the trench in Pendine Credit: Morfa Bay

A real-life trench system has been created in Pendine, Carmarthenshire to educate children across Wales about the realities of war.

The 'Back to the Front' experience at Morfa Bay Adventure Centre features a 100 metre long trench system, equipped with sandbags and barbed wire.

Officer's Mess Credit: Morfa Bay

The system has a frontline trench, an officer's dug-out, communication trench and a delousing area.

It also has 'funk holes', where soldiers may have slept, a toilet area and a cleaning area.

The system has a realistic frontline trench Credit: Morfa Bay

The brains behind the project is Director Andy Edwards, who created the project with the help of a £13,000 tourism grant.

Mr Edwards says he wants West Wales to play its part in marking the 'war to end all wars.'

'With all the media coverage planned for next year's centenary, I feel we have a chance to grab children's attention and tell them the stories that have built our history', he said.

Fixed penalties for parents of truants will 'hit morale'

Fixed penalties for parents of persistent truants will "hit morale" according National Union of Teachers (NUT) in Wales.

Assembly Members will debate the detail of plans this afternoon, before voting this evening.

Under the plans, parents would be fined £60 if their children play truant, rising to £120 if the fine is not paid within 28 days.

But Owen Hathway, Policy Officer at NUT Wales, has warned against fixed penalties being introduced.

"We know that the best way to tackle truancy and long term absenteeism is to have a healthy relationship between the parent and the school," he said.

"Our concern is that if you start introducing truancy fines, there's going to be a breakdown in that relationship and it's going to be even harder to engage families in this issue.

"We often know as well that many parents are trying their very best to bring children to school and they're trying every initiative they can.

"If you start fining them it's going to hit the morale of those parents; it's going to hit their engagement with schools and it's going to cause perhaps even greater problems."

Tuition fees policy 'unsustainable'

Welsh students have the majority of their tuition fees paid wherever they study. Credit: PA

Some Welsh students may have to pay more for their tuition fees in future. That's the warning from a leading academic and opposition politicians. They says financial pressures on the Welsh Government will mean it will have to abandon its current policy.

But in a statement the Welsh Government has dismissed the concerns.

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Grangetown Welsh-medium school rally in Cardiff

A rally is being held at City Hall in Cardiff today as part of a campaign calling on Cardiff Council to honour their pledge to establish a Welsh-medium school in Grangetown.

Campaigners say access to Welsh-medium education is especially difficult for many in the Butetown, Riverside and Grangetown communities, with some children having to face round trips of up to 8 miles a day with no financial assistance for transport.

'Significant' minority want education and health handed back to London

Most people backed the Assembly retaining the powers it has in six key areas: tourism, agriculture, housing, roads, education and health. But a significant minority want to see responsibility for health and education returned to London.

20% said education should be the responsibility of the UK Parliament and Government and 27% said the NHS should be administered from London. The survey points out that these are two areas which received most media coverage.

Plans for truancy fines should be scrapped, says AMs

The Welsh government plans to introduce fines to parents in September Credit: ITV News Wales

Proposals to tackle truancy by fining parents should be dropped, according to assembly members.

The Welsh government plans on introducing fixed penalty notices of £120 next month to parents whose children play truant.

The Children's Committee of the National Assembly that makes laws for Wales, found no evidence in a report that fines are an effective way to tackle regular truancy and are suggesting more 'positive alternatives'.

The Welsh government says fines would be just one of the tools available to councils to tackle absenteeism.

Welsh Tories back return of grammar schools

The Welsh Conservatives have called for the reintroduction of grammar schools to the education system here in Wales. They've told tomorrow's Daily Telegraph that grammar schools were the 'purveyor of success' and that 'we want those elements back.'

But the Welsh Tories are ruling out the return of the eleven-plus exam, saying 'selection at 11 was wrong and is still wrong.' Instead they'd introduce academic and vocational streaming from 14. They'd also want vocational skills to have 'equal weighting' to academic skills.

It's a move certain to appeal to traditional Conservative voters but the party at a UK level has been opposed to opening any new grammar schools since David Cameron pushed through that policy in 2007.

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