University of Wales Trinity Saint David was delighted to welcome Education Secretary Kirsty Williams to the university’s Yr Athrofa to inspire the next generation of classroom teachers.
The Cabinet Secretary met student-teachers at the university’s Townhill campus and took part in a live question and answer session with students, staff and school-based colleagues.
She was also given an update on the university’s radical new approach to teacher education during her visit by Vice-Chancellor Professor Medwin Hughes and Professor Dylan Jones, Dean of Yr Athrofa (Institute of Education).
Addressing the students, the Cabinet Secretary said: “Together we are all responsible for ensuring that every young person in Wales has an equal opportunity to reach the highest standards. You are the new generation of teachers, the agents of change, changing lives and making a difference.
“I wouldn’t be standing here today if it wasn’t for my history teacher. He changed my life. He saw something in me and that sparked me to do something. You have the opportunity to do just that, too.”
The university’s ambitious vision to empower teachers and support schools to develop the education workforce is being delivered through the three core strands of Yr Athrofa – the Athrofa Professional Learning Partnership (APLP); Centres of Research and Innovation; and the Wales Education Commission – that build on the proud history of teacher education in South West Wales.
The APLP, built upon a genuine parity of esteem and shared accountability, was founded with a group of 120 schools across Wales and has re-defined how initial teacher education (ITE) and professional learning can be delivered.
The net result will be the development of a new ITE curriculum, with the university and partner schools jointly responsible for the construction and delivery of all training programmes.
It marks a radical departure from more traditional modes of teacher education and follows a clear directive from Ms Williams that Wales’ ITE system needs to change.
Professor Jones said: “We were delighted to welcome a return visit by the Cabinet Secretary, whose inspirational presentation left those present in no doubt as to her commitment to practising teachers and future teachers.
“She has called for an overhaul of ITE in Wales and we recognise the important role universities, in partnership with schools, have to play in raising standards.
“It is imperative future and existing teachers have the requisite skills and knowledge to deliver wales’ new national curriculum – and improving the quality of education and training available will be crucial.
“Huge potential exists within Wales’ education system and we are committed to playing our part in driving positive change and empowering schools for the benefit of all learners.
“The APLP has responded positively to the Welsh Government’s blueprint for curriculum reform and ITE, with schools actively engaged in plotting a new and exciting course for both existing and future teachers.
“We are grateful to the Cabinet Secretary and Professor Graham Donaldson, who has also visited, for taking time out of their busy schedules to inspire the next generation of classroom teachers with strong and positive messages of support and opportunity.”
Professor Hughes said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Cabinet Secretary to the University of Wales Trinity Saint David to address and engage with our student-teachers and to provide her with an update of our exciting plans for the future.
“The university is proud of its rich history in teacher education and, through our newly-established Yr Athrofa, looks forward to building a new and exciting legacy.
“We are wholly committed to transforming education and transforming lives – and consider it our national mission to harness the strength that exists within Wales’ education system and beyond for the benefit of all learners.
“The young people of Wales deserve the best education and the teachers of Wales deserve the best support possible. They will be at the forefront of our minds as we move forward onto our next chapter.”