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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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Digital 2013: Swansea children show off IT skills to businesses

School children from Swansea have been given a front line role in helping to attract jobs and business to Wales.

They've been recruited to speak to business leaders from across the world about the skills available to companies who come here.

It's all part of a major conference, organised by the Welsh Government called Digital 2013.

Joanna Simpson reports.

Cash and finance lessons for Welsh schoolchildren

150 Welsh schools are taking part in the 'My Money Week', which is being organised by the charity Personal Finance Education Group Credit: PA

Schoolchildren across Wales are to be given lessons about money and personal finance.

The charity behind the programme says it is aiming to create a society in which all children and young people have the skills, knowledge and confidence to manage their money.

Launched today at Cowbridge Comprehensive in the Vale of Glamorgan, 'My Money Week' is a new partnership between financial education charity PFEG (Personal Finance Education Group) and Barclays bank.

The school is one of 150 organisations that have signed up to participate.

Digital skills worth over £1bn to Welsh economy

Digital 2013 is a two-day event that begins today at the Celtic Manor at Newport which aims to enable businesses to harness cutting-edge technologies for economic benefit.

Led by the Welsh Government's ICT Exploitation Unit it will be bringing world experts to Welsh business leaders.

High-growth, innovative businesses are at the core of any buoyant economy and supporting them to utilise technology will be key if Wales is to be positioned at the cutting edge of the digital economy.

It's promising to see such a high-profile digital event held here in Wales, demonstrating Wales' credentials as an outward-looking nation that's committed to up-skilling the economy and getting behind the digital agenda to encourage inward investment and growth.

– Sir Terry Matthews

Leaders from global technology organisations will share their expertise on cutting edge megatrend technologies at the event.

Digital technology 'key to Wales' economic future'

The Welsh Government has organised today's Digital 2013 event to explain to employers how digital technology can lead to business growth. Credit: PA

A glimpse of the digital future in Wales will be unveiled today when a group of schoolchildren from Swansea will be giving business leaders a lesson on how to use new technology.

Digital 2013 is launched in Newport this morning with the promise of robots and cloud technology.

Organised by the Welsh Government - the aim of the conference is to showcase Wales as a place to locate and grow a digital business.

The event brings together a thousand delegates and includes a skills day at which firms can find out how new technology can provide opportunities to grow.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart says ICT is now integral to businesses in Wales and could generate a further £1.5bn to the economy over the next five years.

"Effective use of digital technologies is key to enterprise, jobs and growth and Digital 2013 is an ideal opportunity for Welsh businesses to hear how best to harness ICT from world-leading technology experts," she says.

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New teachers go back to school

From this autumn, newly qualified teachers in Wales will have the opportunity to enrol on a unique Masters programme in Education which will be supported by a new one stop shop website which goes live today. The idea is to give new teachers some extra help as they embark upon their careers.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews says the new Masters in Educational Practice has been designed to drive up standards in schools and focus on three main priorities: literacy, numeracy and reducing the impact of poverty on attainment.

It will be funded by the Welsh Government.

We have created the MEP by working closely with the profession and listening to what they feel newly qualified teachers (NQT's) need. With more in-depth professional experience we are delivering a programme that is unique to Wales and will put us at the forefront of teacher professional development in the UK and internationally.

– Education Minister, Leighton Andrews AM

The NQT's will be supported by mentors, who will play a key role in the three year's of the degree programme. The new website 'Learning Wales' will pull together all relevant Welsh Government and Estyn documents for teachers onto one site. The Education Minister had this to say:

Learning Wales marks yet another step forward in our plan to improve standards in schools. The site will help teachers stay informed and help them stay ahead of the game.

Wales has many excellent teachers, but we want to ensure they can share their best practice and develop their skills. With these tools we can make a real difference in our schools.

– Education Minister, Leighton Andrews AM

''War of words must not continue" says Shadow Minister for Education, Aled Roberts AM

Following the Education Minister's statement that he is issuing the WJEC with a Direction to implement re-grading, the Welsh Liberal Democrat ,Aled Roberts, Shadow Minister for Education has said:

The Education Minister previously said that he would give the WJEC board reasonable time to to comply-that appears to be no longer the case as the Minister has instead resorted to issuing a directive to the examination board merely twenty four hours after his original statement. The war of words that has unfolded today has spiralled out of control and cannot be allowed to continue.

Rather than have the Education Minister, Ofqual and the examination board engaging in institutional warfare, they must all sit down and work together for the best interests of the students.

– Shadow Minister for Education, Aled Roberts AM

Mr Roberts went on to say:

Welsh students are not best served by this twitter based policy making and is no way to reach a calm and moderate conclusion.

– Shadow Minister for Education, Aled Roberts AM

Education Minister issues direction to the WJEC on English GCSE re-grade

Education Minister Leighton Andrews has issued a direction to the WJEC to re-grade this summer's English GCSE English language results for qualifications delivered in Wales.

Yesterday the Minister sought an undertaking that the WJEC would re-grade the qualification.

A spokesperson has told ITV Wales that no such undertaking has been received, resulting in the issue of a formal direction this afternoon.

The Minister for Education, Leighton Andrews, said:

Yesterday, I published a serious, thorough and detailed report from my regulatory officials which stated that this year's awards were unfair to candidates. It is not right that hundreds of our learners should have to live with the consequences of having been awarded what, in all likelihood, is the wrong GCSE grade.

We are fortunate in Wales that we have a regulatory system which allows swift resolution of injustice. We have acted to protect the interests of students in Wales by issuing the direction to the WJEC.

– Education Minister Leighton Andrews AM

The Minister says that he has given the WJEC seven days to implement the required re-grading.

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