European Training Foundation Annual Forum for Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training

ETF

(Photo shows one of the work sessions involving delegates from Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia,Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Palestine, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt)

Phil Whitney, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales Consultant

In the interest of European partnerships and international benchmarking in FE I was invited to attend the European Training Foundation Annual Forum for Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training in Turin between July 10-12th.

The brief was to present on how Wales use destination data and information on utilisation of acquired skills to improve the quality of VET programmes. My presentation focused on the detail gathered from the Welsh Government project on destination data. This method identifies how the Regional Skills Partnerships in Wales consult with Sector Skills Councils and employers to obtain data which feeds into the Programme Delivery Reports which FE colleges use as a basis for provision of their courses.

The invitation was through our involvement in the European Quality Assurance Network for VET (EQAVET) as the National Reference point for Wales.

The European Training Foundation is a European Union agency that helps transition and developing countries harness the potential of their human capital through the reform of education, training and labour market systems, and in the context of the EU’s external relations policy. Based in Turin, Italy, the ETF has been operational since 1994.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Skills | Leave a comment

Diwrnod 2 – Erasmus+ i Denmarc / Day 2 – Erasmus+ trip to Denmark

Day 2 Denmark

Please scroll down for English.

Diwrnod 2 – Dechreuodd yr ail ddiwrnod gyda brecwast am 7.30-8am, gyda taith byr o’r hostel i’r coleg er mwyn dechrau am 9am. Ar ôl i’w system greu argraff gadarnhaol ddoe, system VET strwythurol a chymharol glir/ syml i addysg ôl-16/17 yn Nenmarc, roeddem yn awyddus i ddarganfod mwy am sut roedd y system yn gweithio’n ymarferol. A allai gwerthoedd cyfunol cenedl â chyfradd dreth 51% fod yn y gatalyst ar gyfer cydweithio a chynnal perthnasau addysg a diwydiant cryf.
Dechreuodd ein cyflwyniad cyntaf o’r dydd gyda Hans Lehmann, Is-Bennaeth EUC Syd, a eglurodd fod Vocational Education Training yn astudiaeth academaidd amser llawn ond gyda blas cwricwlwm cryf tuag at faes galwedigaethol penodol. Fel Is-Bennaeth, mae ei rôl yn cwmpasu E & T, TG a rhyngwladol galwedigaethol. (dyma brif feysydd darpariaeth EUC Syd). Os yw dysgwyr eisiau astudio rhywbeth arall, mae’n rhaid iddynt deithio i goleg neu goleg partner arall ymhell i ffwrdd. Yn debyg iawn i wledydd Ewrop arall, gweddol bach eu maint yw’r coleg, gyda 2000 o ddysgwyr, ac maent yn canolbwyntio ar ddarpariaeth SMART a chyflenwi mewn ymateb i anghenion y diwydiant lleol. Oherwydd cysylltiadau diwydiannol cryf a rhaglen brentisiaeth ddeuol (dual system) yn seiliedig ar flociau o 20 awr, roedd y coleg yn gymharol dawel pan oeddem yno, gan fod nifer fawr o’r fyfyrwyr allan yn y gweithle.
Mae Hans hefyd yn gofalu am gysylltiadau gyda’r gymuned leol. Mae ar fin hyrwyddo a chymryd rhan mewn gweithgareddau dinesig (Prosiect Zero, UNESCO, ac ati), gan geisio cryfhau partneriaethau tref / cymuned. Mae hefyd yn weithredol mewn gwaith Ewropeaidd a chryfhau cysylltiadau Ewropeaidd. Mae’n Is-lywydd EFVET – Fforwm Ewropeaidd sy’n seiliedig ar waith VET yn Brwsel ac yn edrych ar symudedd myfyrwyr a staff ac mae’n gweithio ar ddatblygu rhaglenni’r UE, ERASMUS + ac eraill ac mae’n aelod o grŵp TR3 Transatlantig, sy’n cynnwys yr Unol Daleithiau. Ar ôl dychwelyd, bydd ColegauCymru yn derbyn cynnig caredig Hans o ymaelodi gyda EFVET.
Roedd gennym ddiddordeb i ddysgu mwy am amodau staffio, ynghyd â gweithlu sy’n heneiddio, yr oeddem am wybod a oedd y rhain yn heriau tebyg i rai ni. Yn wir, roedd hi’n stori debyg iawn yno hefyd.
Yn gryno, rhaid i athrawon VET gael eu hyfforddi mewn maes benodol, gyda lefelau A perthnasol, 5 mlynedd o brofiad gwaith ôl-raddedig perthnasol a diploma addysgu o fewn 3 blynedd. Mae’r diploma addysgu tua £ 25k, felly maent am gadw staff y maent wedi buddsoddi ynddo. Ni allant gyflwyno cymalau i’w cadw, a rhaid iddynt gydymffurfio â strwythurau cyflog cenedlaethol (gyda hyblygrwydd cyfyngedig iawn). Mae hon yn her mewn meysydd sydd â phrinder sgiliau. Mae’r meysydd prinder mewn peirianneg, awtomeiddio, ac ati lle mae cyflogau diwydiannol yn llawer uwch. Mae cymysgedd o staff llawn a rhan amser, gyda rhai ar gontractau dros dro (ar gyfer hyblygrwydd) sy’n heriol. Un her tebyg arall oedd fod oedran cyfartalog y staff addysgu yn hyn ond mae un nhw yn uwch na un ni, ac yn 57.
Daeth cwestiwn olaf i Hans gan un o gynrychiolwyr ein cyflogwyr oedd a diddordeb clywed am arddull arweinyddiaeth Hans, ei ymateb, “fy arddull arweinyddiaeth ddewisol yw bod yn anffurfiol ond mae yna adegau pan fo angen mwy o ffurfioldeb (ee pan fydd angen toriadau swyddi). Mae gan yr uwch dîm polisi drws agored. ”
Yn ôl rhagolygon Cedefop erbyn 2020, bydd gan oddeutu 61% o bobl 30 i 34 oed gymwysterau lefel uchel, yn sylweddol uwch na meincnod cyrhaeddiad addysgol yr UE o 40% erbyn 2020, ac erbyn 2025 y rhagolygon yw bod gan 70% gymwysterau lefel uwch.

Gyda’r pwyslais cynyddol ar gyfer cymwysterau/sgiliau lefel uwch yma yng Nghymru, aethom ar ymweliadau adrannol i glywed gan yr ymarferwyr a’r dysgwyr yn uniongyrchol am eu profiadau yn y coleg.
Siaradom â dysgwyr TG, Teilwriaeth, CAD / CAM ac Awtomasiwn. Wrth i ni ymweld sylwon ni fod y myfyrwyr ar ben eu hunain a bu’n rhaid inni fynd i ddarganfod y darlithwyr a oedd yn mabwysiadu agwedd ‘laissez faire’ yn eu steil addysgu, yn rhoi grym i’r dysgwr ac yn ysbrydoli dysgu annibynnol.
Yn dilyn cinio maethlon arall yn y ffreutur, gwnaethom gyfarfod â Peter Brodersen, Cadeirydd yr Adran,sy’n gyfrifol am yr elfen vocational upper secondary. Mae’n ymgais i briodi’r gorau o fyd academaidd a galwedigaethol. Mae ‘Astudio addysg baratoadol’ yn ddolen rhwng ysgol orfodol (sylfaenol) ac addysg bellach. Mae’n bont tair blynedd. Os yw myfyrwyr am fynd i mewn i’r gweithlu ar ôl y coleg hwn, dylent fod yn y ffrwd VET. Mae 80% o fyfyrwyr Daneg yn dewis addysg yn General Upper Secondary, 20% yn VET a Vocational Upper Secondary. Y nod yw eu bod yn cael rhywfaint o wybodaeth, sgiliau astudio ac aeddfedrwydd (gan gynnwys bod yn barod i adael cartref). Maent yn cael eu cyflogi, gyda chyflogau a chyfundrefn ariannol sy’n debyg yr un fath â’r llwybr VET.

Roedd y system VET yn wynebu heriau tebyg i Gymru, gan wynebu ffobia coler las ymhlith rhieni a dysgwyr. Mae gan VET lawer o hyd i’w wneud er mwyn sicrhau cydraddoldeb haeddadwy i’r llwybr galwedigaethol yma yn Nenmarc.
Roedd ein hymweliad nesaf i Brifysgol tua 20 munud o gerdded ar draws y dref gyda Peter i gwrdd â Per Boisen, Pennaeth Gwasanaethau Myfyrwyr Prifysgol De Denmark (SDU). Mae’r Brifysgol a adeiladwyd yn 2007 wedi ei leoli ar lan afon Sonderborg ac mae ganddi ystod gyfyngedig o raglenni, gan ganolbwyntio ar dri phrif faes; Gwyddorau Cymdeithasol, Dyniaethau a Pheirianneg. Crybwyllwyd y Brifysgol i Lywodraeth Denmarc y dymunai gynnig gwasanaethau iechyd ond gwrthodwyd y cais gan fod eisoes darpariaeth mewn mannau eraill. Dim ond 1200 o fyfyrwyr sy’n astudio’n llawn amser ac mae tua 65% yn fyfyrwyr rhyngwladol, ac felly mae’r holl raglenni’n cael eu haddysgu trwy gyfrwng y Saesneg. Fel bob amser ar ein hymweliadau Erasmus + Ewropeaidd, mae sgiliau a gallu amlieithog ein cyfoedion dramor yn amlwg ac yn arferol iawn. Mae staff a dysgwyr yn siarad Daneg, Saesneg ac Almaeneg. Mae Denmarc yn ymrwymedig  i ddysgu gydol oes.
Mae addysg yn rhad ac am ddim i’r myfyriwr ac, os ydynt yn gweithio, mae o leiaf 10 awr yr wythnos lle mae’n bosib derbyn cymorth gan y llywodraeth ar gyfer costau byw. Wrth recriwtio myfyrwyr, nid yw’r Brifysgol o reidrwydd yn ceisio gwneud y mwyaf o’r niferoedd, y blaenoriaeth yw sicrhau fod y myfyrwyr am aros, gan fod cyfradd sy’n gadael heb orffen yn 35%, sy’n uchel. Bydd denu dysgwyr yn parhau i fod yn heriol gyda chynnig cyfyngedig o ddarpariaeth, ond rydym yn dymuno pob llwyddiant i’r dyfodol.
Ar ein noson ddiwethaf yn Sonderborg fe aethom allan ar ôl swper i bar (distaw arall) yn y dref i grynhoi diwrnod arall llawn gwybodaeth. Mae’n dod yn gynyddol amlwg nad yw eu system yn well, dim ond yn wahanol. Yn naturiol, mae Cymru a Denmarc yn ymdrechu yn gynyddol am wledydd gyda sgiliau lefel uwch.

http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/denmark-skills-forecasts-2025open door policy.”

day2b

Day 2 began at the same time with a breakfast at 7.30-8am, followed by a brisk, short work from the hostel to the college for a 9am start. After being impressed the day before with the structured and relatively clear/simple post-16/17 VET system in Denmark we were eager to find out more about how the system worked in practice. Could the collective values of a nation with a 51% tax rate be the driving force for collaboration and strong education and industry links.

Our first presentation of the day began with Hans Lehmann, Vice Principal of EUC Syd, who clarified that Vocational Upper Secondary is full-time academic study but with a strong curriculum flavour towards a specific vocational area. As Vice Principal, his role covers vocational E&T, IT and international. (these are the main areas of EUC Syd provision). If learners want to study something else, they have to travel to another partner college or college further away. They are, as is usual in the rest of Europe, a small college, smaller in size in the main, (2000 learners) and concentrate on SMART provision and delivery in response to local industry needs. Due to strong industry links and a dual apprenticeship programme based on blocks of 20 hours, the college was relatively quiet when we were there, as a large number of students were out in the workplace.

Hans also looks after links with local community. He is out and about promoting and engaging in civic activities (Project Zero, UNESCO, etc.), trying to strengthen town/community partnerships. He is also active in European work and strengthening European links. He is Vice President of  EFVET – Brussels based European Forum for VET – student and staff mobility and works on developing EU programmes, ERASMUS+ and others and is a member of the TA3 Transatlantic group, which includes the US. On return ColegauCymru will accept Hans kind offer of becoming a EFVET member.

We were interested to learn more about staffing conditions,  faced with recruitment and retention challenges in Wales, coupled with an  ageing workforce we wanted to know if these were similar challenges that the VET system was facing in Denmark. Indeed it was a very similar story there too.
In brief, VET teachers have to be trained in a specific trade, have relevant A levels, 5 years of relevant post-graduation work experience and a teaching diploma within 3 years. The teaching diploma costs about £25k, so they want to keep staff in whom they’ve invested. They can’t introduce clauses to keep them, and they have to stick to national wage structures (with very limited flexibility). This is a challenge in areas with skills shortages. The shortage areas are in engineering, automation, etc. where industrial salaries are much higher. There is a mix of full and part-time staff, with some on temporary contracts (for flexibility) which is challenging.
Most shockingly however, was the average age of teaching staff is about 57.

A final question from one of our employer delegates, was on Hans leadership style, his response, “my preferred leadership style is to be informal but there are times when greater formality is required (e.g. when job cuts are necessary). The senior team have an open door policy.”

According to Cedefop’s forecasts by 2020, around 61% of 30 to 34 year olds will have high level qualifications, significantly above the EU’s educational attainment benchmark of 40% by 2020, and by 2025 the forecast is for 70% to have higher level qualifications. With the drive for higher level qualifications here in Wales, we went on departmental visits to hear from the practitioners and learners first hand about their college experience.

We spoke with learners in IT, Tailoring, CAD/CAM and Automation. The learners were in the classroom by themselves and we had to go and find the lecturers who were very hands off and laissez faire in their style of teaching, empowering and inspiring independent learning.

Following another nutritious canteen lunch, we met with Peter Brodersen, Chair of Department, who is responsible for the vocational upper secondary element. It is an attempt to marry the best of academic and vocational worlds. ‘Study preparatory education’ is a link between compulsory (basic) school and further education. It is a three year bridge. If students want to enter the workforce after this college, they should be in the VET stream. 80% of Danish students are in the general upper secondary, 20% split between the vocational upper secondary and the VET, with the vocational upper secondary taking students from the VET. The aim is that they get some knowledge, study skills and maturity (including being ready to leave home). They are employed, with wages and a financial regime which is essentially the same as the VET route. The curriculum is a mix of theoretical, academic, largely classroom based, not engaged with employers, on the one hand, and vocational trade skills on the other. They’ll study a range of seven academic subjects (at different levels, depending on the subject) as well as the technical skills.

Education System

 

The VET system faced similar challenges to Wales, facing  blue collar phobia amongst parents and learners . VET still has a long way to go ensure the parity of esteem it so deserves here in Denmark.

Our next visit was a 20 minute walk across town with Peter to meet Per Boisen, Head of Student Services at Southern Denmark University (SDU).  The University built in 2007 is located on the river bank of Sonderborg and has a limited range of programmes, focussing on three main arease; Social Sciences, Humanities and Engineering. Per mentioned they would like to offer health services but Government has refused as it’s already delivery elsewhere. There are only 1200 students studying full time and approx 65% are international students, and so all programs are taught through the medium of English. As always on our European Erasmus+ visits, the multilingualism skills and ability of our hosts is apparent and very much normal. Staff and learners speak Danish, English and German. Denmark is also committed to lifelong learning.

Education is free to the student and, if they work (employment) minimum 10 hours per week, can get government support for living cost. In recruiting students, the University is not necessarily trying to maximise the numbers, but to get a good match, in order to avoid dropout, 35% drop out rate, both because they get financial penalties and for societal reasons. Attracting learners will remain a challenge with a limited offer of provision, but we wish them luck and success for the future.

On our last evening in Sonderborg we headed out after supper in the hostel canteen to a bar in town to digest another day of information, where it was becoming increasingly obvious that their system was not better, just different. Naturally, both Wales and Denmark are  striving for a country with higher level skills.

http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/denmark-skills-forecasts-2025open door policy.”

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Skills | Leave a comment

Diwrnod 1 – Taith Erasmus+ i Denmarc Day 1 – Erasmus+ Trip to Denmark

Please scroll down for English.

Ar ôl diwrnod o deithio ddoe, rydym yn deffro i olau dydd yn nhref hardd Sonderborg, Denmarc. Y ffocws ar gyfer yr ymweliad yw archwilio cyflwyno sgiliau lefel uwch (lefelau 3 – 5) mewn lleoliad galwedigaethol a’r cyfraniad y mae’r diwydiant yn ei wneud wrth ddatblygu gweithlu sy’n addas at bwrpas.
Dechreuodd Lene o EUC Syd, (ein partner am yr ymweliad) gyda thaith o gwmpas y coleg a chawsom argraff ar unwaith o’r natur agored a glan sy’n cael eu trosglwyddo i’r mannau dysgu ac addysgu. Roedd yr amgylchedd hwn yn cael effaith amlwg ar y dysgwyr, oedd yn amlwg yn parchu’u hamgylchedd o fewn y dosbarth ac ar adegau egwyl. Atebodd y dysgwyr ein cwestiynau yn wybodus a chwrtais yn Saesneg a phwysleisiodd Lene y pwysigrwydd o rymuso dysgwyr fel unigolion.
Daeth cinio blasus am 1130, mae pethau’n digwydd yn gynharach yn Nenmarc! Ac yn dilyn y cinio cyflwynwyd sesiwn ddiddorol ar sut mae’r coleg yn ymgysylltu â chyflogwyr a’u defnydd o’r gronfa ddata cenedlaethol o gwmnïau i nodi lleoliad prentisiaid ledled Denmarc.
Roedd ein sesiwn olaf yn ymweld â Hotel Comwell lle siaradodd Claus, y Prif Gogydd ag angerdd am ei gred yn y system brentisiaeth a’i ddysgwyr.
Yn ôl yn y neuadd/hostel, fe wnaethom adlewyrchu fel grŵp o 16 ar ganfyddiadau’r diwrnod a chytunwyd bod yna debygrwydd a gwahaniaethau sylweddol. Mewn gwlad lle mae pobl yn talu treth o 51%, does dim rhyfedd. Heriodd Iestyn, Prif Weithredwr ColegauCymru y grŵp i nodi sut y byddwn yn rhoi’r wybodaeth a gasglwyd o ddiwrnod 1 ar waith. Dyma rai enghreifftiau; Gwneud ymdrech i gysylltu gyda chyflogwyr i nodi cyfleoedd cydweithredol; creu cyfrifoldebau cliriach ar gyfer partneriaethau a rôl y cyflogwyr ac addysg wrth hyfforddi prentisiaethau; adolygu ansawdd y lleoliadau gwaith; sicrhau bod cydbwysedd rhwng theori ac ymarfer; cyhoeddi a dathlu llwyddiant AB a chreu diwylliant ac amgylchedd glân.
Wrth i’r ymgynghoriad technegol ar gyfer PCET gael ei lansio yng Nghymru heddiw, rydym yn awyddus i gael cipolwg ar gydweithrediad AU ac AB Daneg yn rhaglen yfory.
Os hoffech wybod mwy am ein canfyddiadau a chasgliadau o’r daith, cysylltwch â Claire.roberts@coleagucymru.ac.uk.

English

After a day’s travelling yesterday, we awoke to daylight in the pretty town of Sonderborg, Denmark. The focus for the visit is to explore the delivery of higher level skills (levels 3 – 5) in a vocational setting and the contribution that industry makes in developing a workforce fit for purpose.

Lene from EUC Syd, gave us a tour of the college and we were all immediately impressed with the openness and cleanliness of the teaching and learning spaces.  This environment had an obvious impact on the learners who clearly respected their surroundings when in class and at break times.  Learners answered our questions knowledgeably and courteously in English and Lene emphasised the importance of empowering learners as individuals.

A tasty lunch at 1130 – yes, things happen a lot earlier in Denmark – set us up for an interesting session on how the college engages with employers and their use of a national database of companies to identify the placement of apprentices across Denmark.

Our final session of the day was a visit to Hotel Comwell where Claus, the Head Chef spoke with passion about his belief in the apprenticeship system and his learners.

Back at base we reflected as a group of 16 on the day’s findings and agreed there are similarities and distinct differences. In a country where people pay 51% tax, no wonder. We were challenged by Iestyn, CEO of ColegauCymru to identify how we will apply the knowledge gained from day 1, here are some examples: Redouble effort with employers to identify collaborative opportunities; clearer responsibilities for both employer and education partners; review the quality of work placements; ensure the balance of theory and practice exists; better at self-publicising success and create a clean environment culture.

As the technical consultation for PCET is launched in Wales, we are eager to gain an insight into Danish HE and FE collaboration in tomorrow’s programme.

For more information on the findings of today and the rest of the trip please contact Claire.roberts@colegaucymru.ac.uk.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Skills | Leave a comment

Competitive Sport in FE is good for you! Rob Baynham, Sports Coordinator ColegauCymru/CollegesWales

The debate over the benefits or negative impact of competitive sport in education is one that can polarise opinion. In my own experience working for ColegauCymru / CollegesWales on projects that deal with inactive young people, particularly female learners, we very often steer away from competitive sport and focus on talk about physical and fitness based activity, going as far as to avoid using the word “Sport” in some cases. Why? The reason being that we are attempting to re-engage learners who may have had a negative experience of sport in school or college and to avoid them running (or rather walking to the hills) at first contact. While this is an important area of development it is also important not to pigeon hole “competition” and “sport” into too small a box.

IMG_0086
The annual Welsh Colleges Sport regional competition held recently in Cardiff between the 7th / 8th November provided so many examples of the benefits of competitive sport in FE, including some less obvious ones, that I felt it was worth looking at the arguments for and against in more detail.
The competition itself saw over 800 FE students from 20 College campuses across Wales visiting Cardiff to participate in eight different types of sport with the winners heading to the AoC Sport national championships in Nottingham in April 2018. So what is different about this to any other competition? Isn’t it just providing more competition for those already playing regularly?
A fair question, but in most cases the Welsh Colleges Sport competition last week has some further underlying benefits for those involved as we welcome a range of abilities which is different to the norm.
Partnerships – the two day competition involved 13 FE colleges, ColegauCymru, AoCSport, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Welsh Netball, Sport Wales, Welsh Squash and Racquetball, University of South Wales, Young Ambassadors Cymru, Cricket Wales, Glamorgan Cricket, FAW trust, Hockey Wales and Basketball Wales. All working together to create new opportunities. The networking benefits alone from connecting staff, learners and various other staff has a value that would run into thousands of pounds in terms of travel, meetings and events. However, this benefit works as a result of competitive sport. Very often, these initial contacts can lead to new projects linked to community sport, FE, and increased exit routes for FE learners into employment.
HE Students (in many cases who were also former FE learners) were used to referee and coordinate competitions reducing costs and developing employability skills in the process, agreed it happens already but this week alone saw more than 25 HE students supporting in a variety of roles. As an indirect link those colleges looking to develop new sports teams are often turning to partnerships with HE and interns to support their competitive programmes, it was also interesting to see the number of Elite sports people who have recently progressed from HE student to employment in Colleges as coaches and development officers.

IMG_0005
Sporting Pathways – many of the students competing would not be considered “elite” in the purest sense of the word. For some, taking part in recreational activity in college has led them on to compete and enjoy new social experiences. Basketball is a great example of this – over 140 players participating, with no colleges in Wales currently providing “academies” and no other regular formal competitions during the year. The Basketball competition included a high percentage of students from non – sporty subjects and a high number of student from BME backgrounds.
Increasing participation – Seeing 70 + students playing Cricket at the SWALEC stadium on a morning where most people were scraping frost off their car windows. The Indoor 24 version of the game provides students with an opportunity to play anytime of the year in mixed teams with no expensive equipment. There is a real struggle in some areas to retain young people in the game once they leave school. Indoor 24 is competitive but in a non – traditional format that keeps players engaged, can be played almost anywhere in less than half an hour per game for a very cost – simple really but potentially the basis for something on a wider scale.
Learner experience – Facilities provided through partnership included some of the best in the UK with FE students getting the chance to play at the venues used by Cardiff City, Celtic Dragons, Glamorgan Cricket and the new Archers Arena at Cardiff Met. What is not obvious is that for many involved they would not get this experience without this competition, some starting in the early hours of the morning from rural areas to reach college before a 4-5 hour journey to the event. This in itself does not sound like a great experience but for many it is a journey that opens their eyes to opportunities in higher education, employment and new friendships.

IMG_0091
A final question that often gets raised is what about those who do not win anything…..?? This competition can see people travelling a long way to compete against more established teams with little hope of winning. It can also see someone who is competitive at a regional level going to the national championships and to put it bluntly getting thrashed in every game. Generally, when we ask colleges and learners if we should create two tier competitions, withdraw players from the nationals or even stop certain competitions the response is a categorical NO. As the learners “enjoy the experience”, it is probably true that most of them do not enjoy losing, but the experience of competing with their friends, maybe making some new ones in the process and the opportunity to see new places and opportunities are outweighing the negative.
To summarise, taking part in competitive sport in FE is providing learners from a wide range of courses with opportunities they may not have had otherwise. Some of these experiences are sporting but can also lead to volunteering and employment for both non-elite and elite sports people. There is a social benefit for learners, staff and other organisations linking up FE with other sectors through competitive sport and potentially a knock on effect developing new pathways from recreation to competition.
I cannot wait to see what next year’s competition brings….

 

Posted in Skills | Leave a comment

Debrecen, Thermal Baths, Sports Ambassadors and Cabbages………. 21st – 25th September 2017

The ErasmusYSDA + Youth Sports Development Ambassadors (YSDA) project involves seven partner countries from around Europe. Last weekend saw ambassadors and mentors from Wales, Italy, Portugal and Poland visiting Debrecen and Hajduhadhaz in Hungary for four days of culture, training and sports development. As project manager I had not originally planned to attend the mobility so it was an added bonus to step in and travel as a mentor to Conor Lees one of our Welsh YSDA. If I’d been told at the start of planning a European sports development project that I would end up cooking lamb stew a Hungarian Cabbage festival as part of this project I wouldn’t have believed you – but indeed this happened!

Hungary 2

Arriving in Debrecen there was a stark contrast between the airport (a former Soviet military base) and the city centre with its mix of modern bars, restaurants and transport and some beautiful old buildings and parks. The city is the second largest in Hungary with a population of around 250,000 and a famous University.

Hungary4Debrecen Airport

Hungary 3Debrecen City Centre
The accommodation for the weekend included free entry to a waterpark and thermal baths, which proved an interesting cultural experience; the baths are natural and range from around 30 degrees C to 40 degrees C with some colder options to dive into. Due to the sulphur, the watercolour darkens in brown the hotter, each bath is and after a couple of days to acclimatise, these proved a popular way to recharge the batteries for YSDA and mentors.
Friday provided a chance for everyone to meet and take part in some entertaining icebreakers with our host Ziggy Kovacs from DEKUT leading the group. First stop was the local town of Hajduhadhaz at the Fiksz Pont project centre with activity led by Ziggy and Gabriella Lakatos one of the mentors from the Roma community. The rapidly growing group now including Hungarian partners then visited a local sports facility funded 90% by the EU, part of a community development with outdoor play and fitness provision and meeting rooms and indoor sports facilities. It was interesting that the facility was run by a small company set up in a similar way to some of the trusts that exist for leisure provision in the UK.
Following a traditional lunch, the group were joined by the local YSDA and mentors and travelled to Hortobagy national park on the Hungarian plains. Entertainment en route included some folk singing by the Hungarian YSDA, which made for an enjoyable journey. At Hortobagy the group enjoyed demonstrations of horse skills and a tour of the plains and surrounding area.

Hungary 5
After an interesting first day, the group headed back to Debrecen for some more thermal bathing (now almost compulsory) and an early night in preparation for a very busy day to follow.
Unfortunately for our hosts we experienced some traditional Welsh weather on Saturday in Hajduhadhaz (pronounced high – doo – had – has , I think) which resulted in the first activity a 2k fun run for the Heart being cancelled. Instead, Conor and I delivered some presentations to the group on the YSDA project and Conor’s experience as a college student volunteering and planning activity in Wales.
The town is host to an annual cabbage festival with lots of community events including concerts, fitness activities and a large festival over the weekend. As part of this the YSDA project group participated in a “fitness” session in a local school led by Norbert Schobert and Reka Rubint, Hungary’s most famous fitness professionals. Arriving a bit late most of the group got stuck in to the session which was a mix of aerobics, high intensity exercises and what seemed like a thousand squats of various form. This continued for around 80 minutes with everyone from the overweight project manager to local Roma children enjoying the experience

Hungary 7Reka Rubint with Inez Polish – YSDA
Moving on we then visited a local school for 15+ age pupils which provides vocational training for the local Roma young people. Most of the local YSDA and mentors had either attended or worked at the school and gave a really informative tour of the facilities school had and the challenges they face. Some of the subjects being taught were very similar to those in FE colleges in Wales with childcare / social care / construction among them.
After an amazing lunch of Goulash soup back at the community centre, the group engaged in some role play games with the adults pretending to be a group of grumpy or lazy teenagers (maybe similar to some target groups for the project!) and the YSDA trying to motivate them and create new activity. They then took part in a Karate session with Jose Maia, Portuguese mentor doing a first class job of leading this activity.

After some work preparing decorations from partner countries for the main festival the next day, the last task on Saturday was to erect a large tent. This could have led to the “how many people does it take to change a light bulb” question. We actually had around 20 people from five EU countries speaking about 10 languages all working in monsoon type conditions who finally succeeded to erect a very nice new home for the group to work in on Sunday.

After more thermal bathing on Saturday night, the group had an early start on Sunday heading to the cabbage festival. At some point when discussing cultural experiences Ziggy had suggested entering the cooking competition at the festival, the rest will go down as one of the most different but enjoyable experiences I have had in a long time.

The whole town and festival is a celebration of the cabbage with decorations made with cabbages and many other agricultural materials. The festival and competition proved to be a much bigger event than I had personally expected it was something similar to a large agricultural show in Wales.Hungary 10
The cooking competition presented a few challenges for all involved. The first challenge being how to cook using one of the traditional 50 litre pots, secondly finding lamb for lamb stew and thirdly avoiding friendly locals offering Palinka, Hungarian schnapps made from berries and other fruit. Also having to present the food to Lazar Kovacs a famous celebrity chef in Hungary and teaching YSDA to make dumplings proved interesting but the end results proved to be a success and our Polish partners also cooked up some amazing stuffed cabbage rolls also assisted by the YSDA.

Overall, this was a fantastic experience; the hospitality of our hosts was amazing, the YSDA and mentors really ensured we all learnt from the experience, gaining hands on opportunities of physical activity in Hungary and making friends along the way. For those involved visiting Debrecen for the first time and meeting the local people from the Roma community this trip has proved to be a really enjoyable and rewarding experience.

 

Posted in Skills | Leave a comment

Catalonia Day 4 – (our last day) – #FEInnovate

llun diwrnod 4

An inspirational and very busy week is coming to an end with the last visit of our unforgettable Catalonian experience. This morning we visited the Institut de Nautica de Barcelona, located on the beautiful waterfront in a new and very impressive building. The college specialises in nautical courses ranging from nautical sports to boat building and maintenance. They have 316 post -16 vocational learners who mainly fall under the dual system. As with the other colleges we have visited this week, a big emphasis is put on practical application of knowledge within a vocational setting. The college has increased the number of hours’ learners spend out in the workplace from 350 hrs over the duration of the course to 1000 hrs.

The learners complete their studies mainly through the medium of Catalan with some Spanish. English is introduced as a 3rd language as a response to sector demands for English speakers. The nautical industry has become truly international and multilingual workers are highly sought after.

Xavier Cuerpo, Head of Languages at the Institut de Nautica de Barcelona, explained to us that all learners receive additional English lessons but that certain vocational units are also delivered in English to enable the learners to apply their language skills in a technical environment. Xavier explained that the learners have more difficulty with using technical English than conversational English, which is, of course, also sometimes true for Welsh speakers and learners. The more opportunity learners have to use and apply their language skills the better. Learners here often do this through project work and other means.

There is a big emphasis on teacher support and training in using other languages, especially English. Senior management encourage and make it easy for staff to attend English lessons so that they are able to deliver some units in English. The group felt that we need this level of engagement with the Welsh language in our colleges to increase the number of staff able to deliver some elements bilingually or in Welsh. Much support is offered to staff in the use of technology to support language acquisition within a vocational context and Zavier supports staff with the creation of English resources. Something that many of us do on a day to day basis back in Wales. We are more convinced than ever that there needs to be some element of Welsh learning as part of the PGCE so that all teachers are able to deliver bilingually to some extent.

Xavier is excellent at using technology and interactive means to make his language lessons fun and interesting for the learners. He demonstrated the use of vocabulary dominoes and the Thinklink website which is created by learners and links language resources to subject specific images. We were all interested in the Present.me tool which enables learners and staff to create presentations in any language at home. This helps to build confidence gradually until the learners feel ready to present in person. A great tool that we want to explore when we are back in our colleges. Xavier has bounds of enthusiasm for language teaching and learning and he left us all feeling motivated and excited about using new ideas at home.

We had a brief visit to the boat building and maintenance workshop where the leaners ‘learn their trade’ and apply their new language skills. What a setting, right by the water!

After a lovey walk along the beach we had our final meal together as a group at a seafood restaurant, where we had to part ways with Maria, our fabulous host for the week. I think it’s safe to say that we are feeling inspired, tired and a little sad that the visit is coming to an end. What a fantastic group of hard working, energetic and positive people that are eager to implement some of the many things we have learnt from our inspiring hosts this week.

Our final few hours before the flight home were spent visiting the sights of beautiful Barcelona and having some time to evaluate the week and discuss some collaborative ideas after we return to our colleges.

Thank you Erasmus+ for an unforgettable experience, let’s hope these learner and staff mobility opportunities continue to exist post Brexit.

 

Posted in Skills | Leave a comment

Erasmus+ Catalonia Diwrnod 4 (y diwrnod olaf) – #ArloesiAB

llun diwrnod 4

Mae wythnos ysbrydoledig a phrysur iawn yn dod i ben gyda’n hymweliad olaf fel rhan o’n taith fythgofiadwy i Gatalunya. Aethom i ymweld â Institut de Nautica de Barcelona y bore ma, sydd wedi ei leoli wrth y dŵr mewn adeilad newydd a thrawiadol. Mae’r coleg yn arbenigo mewn cyrsiau morwrol o chwaraeon dŵr i adeiladu a chynhaliaeth cwch. Mae 316 o ddisgyblion ol-16 sydd yn disgyn yn bennaf o fewn y drefn ddeuol. Fel sy’n wir am y colegau eraill yma, mae pwyslais mawr ar gymhwyso sgiliau ymarferol mewn cwmni/gweithle. Mae’r coleg wedi cynyddu’r nifer o oriau mewn gweithle o 365awr dros gyfnod y cwrs i 1000 o oriau.

 Mae’r dysgwyr yn cwblhau eu hastudiaethau drwy gyfrwng Catalan gyda rhywfaint o Sbaeneg. Mae Saesneg yn cael ei gyflwyno fel 3ydd Iaith er mwyn ymateb i’r galw yn y gweithle am siaradwyr Saesneg. Mae’r diwydiant morwrol yn un rhyngwladol iawn ac mae galw mawr am staff amlieithog. 

Esboniodd Xavier Cuerpo, Pennaeth Ieithoedd Institut de Nautica de Barcelona, fod y dysgwyr i gyd yn derbyn gwersi Saesneg ychwanegol ac hefyd mae rhai unedau galwedigaethol yn cael eu dysgu drwy gyfrwng y Saesneg er mwyn rhoi cyfle i gymhwyso Saesneg o fewn amgylchedd technegol. Esboniodd hefyd fod y dysgwyr yn cael fwy o drafferth gyda geiriau technegol drwy gyfrwng y Saesneg nag iaith sgwrsio. Mae hyn wrth gwrs yn wir am ein siaradwyr a dysgwyr Cymraeg. Y mwyaf yw’r cyfleoedd i ddefnyddio a chymhwyso iaith yna’r gorau yw’r canlyniadau. Mae dysgwyr yma yn gwneud hyn drwy waith prosiect ymhlith ffyrdd eraill. Mae pwyslais mawr ar gefnogi a hyfforddi athrawon i ddefnyddio ieithoedd gwahanol, fel Saesneg. Mae uwch reolwyr yn ysgogi ac yn gwneud hi’n hawdd i staff ddysgu Saesneg fel y gallant ddysgu rhai unedau trwy’r Saesneg. Teimlodd y grŵp bod angen ymrwymiad fel hyn gyda’r Gymraeg er mwyn cynyddu’r nifer o staff sy’n gallu dysgu’n ddwyieithog  neu yn Gymraeg. Mae llawer o gefnogaeth yn cael ei roi i staff wrth ddefnyddio technoleg wrth ddatblygu sgiliau ieithyddol o fewn cyd-destun galwedigaethol. Mae Xavier hefyd yn cefnogi staff i greu adnoddau dwyieithog, fel mae y rhan fwyaf ohonom ni y gwneud o ddydd i ddydd. Rydym yn fwy sicr nag erioed bod angen cyflwyno’r Gymraeg o fewn holl gyrsiau TAR er mwyn galluogi pob athro i gyflwyno’n ddwyieithog i ryw raddau.

 Mae Xavier yn wych ar ddefnyddio technoleg a dulliau rhyngweithiol o ddysgu iaith a gwneud gwersi yn hwyliog ar gyfer ei ddysgwyr. Dangosodd sut gellir defnyddio dominos geirfa a’r safle Thinklink sy’n caniatáu i ddysgwr gysylltu geirfa ieithyddol gyda lluniau galwedigaethol penodol. Roedd gennym ddiddordeb mawr yn yr arf Present.me sy’n galluogi dysgwyr a staff i greu cyflwyniadau mewn unrhyw iaith o gartref. Mae hyn yn helpu i wella hyder yn raddol nes mae’r unigolyn yn barod i gyflwyno mewn person. Rhywbeth diddorol iawn i arbrofi gydag ar ôl dychwelyd i’n colegau. Mae gan Xavier tomen o frwdfrydedd am ddysgu ac addysgu iaith ac mae wedi ein hysgogi ni i ddefnyddio dulliau newydd yn ein colegau.

 Cawsom ymweliad byr a’r gweithdy adeiladu a chynhaliaeth cwch ble mae’r dysgwyr yn perffeithio eu crefft wrth ymarfer eu sgiliau iaith. Am leoliad, reit wrth y dŵr!

 Ar ôl cerdded ar hyd y traeth yn yr haul cawsom bryd bwyd olaf gyda’n gilydd, mewn bwyty bwyd mor ble roedd yn rhaid ffarwelio a Maria, ein gwesteiwr gwych am yr wythnos. Mae’n wir i ddweud fod pawb wedi eu hysbrydoli, wedi blino ac yn teimlo bach yn drist fod y profiad yn dod i ben. Am griw gwych o bobol gweithgar, llawn egni a phositif sy’n barod i weithredu rhai o’r pethau newydd sydd wedi cael eu dysgu’r wythnos yma gan ein gwesteion arbennig.

Gwariwyd ein horiau terfynol yn ymweld â rhai o olygfeydd prydferth Barcelona a chael amser i werthuso’r wythnos a thrafod syniadau i gydweithio ar ôl dychwelyd i’n colegau.

Diolch Erasmus+ am brofiad bythgofiadwy, gan obeithio bydd cyfleoedd symudedd i staff a dysgwyr yn parhau ar ôl Brexit.

Posted in Skills | Leave a comment

Erasmus+ Catalonia Day 3 – #FEInnovate

Llun blog 3An early start at 7.45am to the third day of the trip to Catalonia as we leave the city and caught a train to Vic, in the area of ​​Osona. Maria was already on the train so it was very important for us to be on time. While travelling through the mountains, the rain came and changed the landscape that welcomed industrial areas. Our expectations were of a grey, industrial city, therefore we were very pleasantly surprised. We walked through heavy rain but on arrival at a beautiful college we had an a warm welcome from the Principal Cristòfol Estrella i Padilla.

Cris presented their structure, curriculum areas and important work on mobility. Before taking a tour of the college which had 1400 learners and 125 staff, he referenced the areas of provision, they are; business and management, marketing, electronics, installation and maintenance, chemistry, and health.

He also emphasised the pride toward the Catalan language in explaining that everything is taught through the medium of Catalan.

A number of courses are dual core which means that there are common modules and therefore it is possible to achieve two courses over three years instead of four. Students and employers alike favour this model. This innovative system of supporting learner and staff mobility started in 1992 and they now have 37 foreign college partners, this is confirmation of the excellent work by Principal Cris and the team. As we wandered around the college, Cris focussed on the importance of real experiences for their learners, and we were able to see a number of dedicated rooms with practical tools from the world of work. They have a supermarket, pharmacy, dental hygeine room, maternity ward, emergency room, and disptach storeroom complete with a forklift. In response to local industry demand, they will be introducing a lorry driver course in September.  To provide a realistic experience of the workplace, the college, the Catalan government and companies have invested in quality, realistic professional resources, supporting learners to be confident before entering the workplace.

Cris mentioned that unemployment in the region stood at 0%, and that their problem was learner capacity, and finding enough learners to fill certain jobs in the area.

It is imperative for Institut de Vic to offer mobility projects to: study; get work experience; dual mobility; and staff mobility, in order to broaden the skills, experience and awareness of what is happening within countries and partner companies.

To conclude the morning session we watched a marketing video for the city that gave an overview and visions of the stunning buildings, the history and culture of the city. Cris then led us around the beautiful city that was a mix of new and old.
We enjoyed a traditional local lunch and the opportunity for networking before moving on to the afternoon session.

We walked for ten minutes towards the first factory visit of the afternoon, to a frozen food factory by the name Fferer. There, we had an entertaining presentation on the history of this family company that has expanded over the 92 years of its existence, from being a local company to being a company completely international.  The international nature of the company has obviosuly had an impact on the language used on a daily basis. By now, Spanish and English are used by the company in communicating in public, but it was great to hear that the workers use Catalan internally.

The highlight of the visit was the experience of the extreme temperature on entering the freezer, and also seeing the factory floor where college learners work as part of their dual mobility. We realised our summer clothes not suitable for the freezing temperature!. We had not organized this too well!!
We proceeded to the residence-hall for mobility learners and staff, which Cris was so proud to show us. There were attractive and comfortable apartments over five floors with views over the whole city.

Before leaving Vic, there was an opportunity for a last visit to a traditional Catalonian sausage factory called Cas Riera Ordeix. Nowadays, it is the only company that continues to produce sausage in the same way as when it was established in the 1800s.
This is another example of a family company, now run by the sixth generation and working in Catalan. As they are the only company of its kind, they have taken the opportunity to open their doors to tourists in order to share their and offer tourist visits in Spanish, French, English, and of course Catalan.

It was wonderful to have the opportunity to taste and buy the unique produce.
Thanks to Cris for organizing and spending the whole day with us as visitors. We realise, as the head of a large and busy school, this has been a great commitment on his part.
After nearly 14 hours of incredible experiences during the day, it was our last night and a chance to discuss the highlights over a wonderful Italian dinner near our hotel in Barcelona.

 

Posted in Skills | Leave a comment

Erasmus+ Catalonia Diwrnod 3 – #ArloesiAB

Llun blog 3

Cychwyn cynnar  am 7.45m i’r trydydd diwrnod o’r daith i Gatalonia  gan ein bod yn gadael y ddinas a dal trên i Vic, yn ardal Osona. Roedd Maria eisoes ar y trên felly roedd yn hynod bwysig i ni fod ar amser. Wrth deithio drwy’r mynyddoedd, daeth y glaw a newid i’r dirwedd wrth i ardaloedd diwydiannol ein croesawu. O weld hynny disgwyliom weld dinas ddiwydiannol lwydaidd. Cerddon i’r coleg yn y glaw trwm ond pleser oedd cyrraedd adeilad hardd a chael croeso i’r brenin gan y Pennaeth Cristòfol Estrella i Padilla. 

Cyflwynodd Cris ar eu strwythur, meysydd cwricwlwm a’r gwaith holl bwysig ar symudedd. Cyn mynd am daith o amgylch y coleg sy’n cynnwys 1400 o ddysgwyr a 125 o staff, cyfeiriodd at y meysydd mae’r coleg yn eu darparu sef; Busnes a rheolaeth, marchnata, trydaneg ac electroneg, gosod a chynnal, cemeg, ac iechyd.

Hefyd, pwysleisiodd Cris y balchder sydd gennant at yr iaith Catalan wrth esbonio bod pob dim yn cael eu dysgu trwy gyfrwng y Catalan.

Mae nifer y cyrsiau yn ddeuol sy’n golygu fod modiwlau craidd sy’n gyffredin ac felly mae’n bosib cyflawni dau gwrs dros dair blynedd yn lle pedwar. Mae myfyrwyr a chyflogwyr yn hoff o hyn. Mae hyn yn cefnogi eu system arloesol o symudedd a ddechreuodd yn 1992. Mae eisoes 37 partner o dramor gan y coleg, sy’n dyst i’r gwaith da gan Cris a’r tîm.

Wrth i ni grwydro o amgylch y coleg, daeth mwy o wybodaeth gan Cris ar bwysigrwydd profiadau go-iawn  yn ogystal â gweld nifer o stafelloedd pwrpasol gyda’r offer ymarferol o’r byd gwaith. Gwelom ni archfarchnad, fferyllfa,  glanheuwydd deintyddol, ward mamolaeth, ystafell brys, storfa adeiladwaith gyda wagon fforch godi (‘forklift’).  Er mwyn cynnig y profiad realistig o’r gweithle, mae’r coleg, llywodraeth Catalonia a chwmnïau wedi buddsoddi mewn cyfleusterau proffesiynol cyn i’r myfyrwyr mynd allan i’r gweithle.

Soniodd Cris fod diweithdra yn yr ardal yn 0%, a bod hi’n anodd dod o hyd i ddigon o ddysgwyr i lenwi’r swyddi penodol yn yr ardal. Clywon fod hyfforddiant galwedigaethol yng Nghatalonia yn cyfateb anghenion rhanbarthol cyflogwyr lle bod swydd i bawb sy’n cael eu hyfforddi.

Mae’n holl bwysig i Institut de Vic i gynnig prosiectau symudedd i: astudio; mynd ar brofiad gwaith; symudedd deuol; a symudedd staff, er mwyn ehangu sgiliau, profiadau ac ymwybyddiaeth o hyn sy’n digwydd o fewn wledydd a chwmnïau partner.

I gloi sesiwn y bore gwyliom ni fideo marchnata o ddinas Vic hynod drawiadol a wnaeth arddangos hanes a diwylliant y ddinas. Fe dywysodd Cris ni o gwmpas y ddinas hardd hon wrth ddangos yr hen a’r newydd.

Cawsom ginio traddodiadol yr ardal gyda chyfle i rwydweithio cyn mynd ymlaen at sesiwn y prynhawn.

Cerddon am ddeg munud tuag at ffatri gyntaf y prynhawn sef ffatri bwyd rhewedig o’r enw Fferer. Yna, cawsom gyflwyniad difyr am hanes cwmni teuluol sydd wedi ehangu dros y 92 flynedd o’i fodolaeth, o fod yn gwmni lleol i fod yn gwmni hollol ryngwladol.  Mae natur ryngwladol y cwmni wedi cael effaith ar yr iaith a ddefnyddir o ddydd i ddydd. Bellach, defnyddir Sbaeneg a Saesneg gan y cwmni wrth gyfathrebu yn gyhoeddus, ond braf iawn oedd clywed bod y gweithwyr yn defnyddio Catalan yn fewnol.

Uchafbwynt yr ymweliad oedd y profiad o rewi yn y rhewgell a gweld llawr y ffatri lle mae dysgwyr y coleg yn gweithio fel rhan o’u symudedd deuol. Doedd ein dillad haf ni ddim yn addas i’r tymheredd rhewedig. Doedden ni ddim wedi trefnu hyn yn rhy dda!

Ymlaen â ni at neuadd breswyl yr oedd Cris mor falch o ddangos i ni, sydd ar gyfer dysgwyr a staff symudedd. Yr oedd yna fflatiau deniadol a chyffyrddus dros y pum llawr gyda golygfeydd dros yr holl ddinas.

Cyn gadael Vic yr oedd yna gyfle am ymweliad olaf i ffatri selsig draddodiadol Catalonia o’r enw Casa Riera Ordeix. Erbyn hyn, dyma’r unig gwmni o’r fath sydd wedi parhau i gynhyrchu selsig yn yr un modd, ac yn yr un lleoliad â phan y’i sefydlwyd yn y 1800au.

Unwaith eto, dyma gwmni teuluol arall sydd gyda chweched genhedlaeth yn rhedeg y cwmni trwy gyfrwng y Catalan. Gan mai nhw yw’r unig gwmni o’r fath erbyn hyn maent wedi manteisio ar y cyfle i agor eu drysau i dwristiaid er mwyn rhannu’r grefft wrth gynnig yr ymweliadau i dwristiaid Sbaeneg, Ffrangeg, Saesneg, ac wrth gwrs Catalaneg.

Hyfryd oedd cael y cyfle i flasu a phrynu’r cynnyrch unigryw hwn.

Diolchwn i Cris am drefnu a threulio’r holl ddiwrnod gyda ni fel ymwelwyr. Sylwyddolwn, gan ei fod yn bennaeth ar ysgol fawr brysur, bod hyn wedi bod yn ymroddiad mawr ar ei ran.

Ar ôl bod wrthi am bron 14 awr gyda phrofiadau anhygoel yn ystod y dydd, roedd ein noson olaf yn gyfle gwych i drafod uchafbwyntiau dros swper Eidalaidd bendigedig ger ein gwesty ym Marcelona.

Posted in Skills | Leave a comment

Erasmus+ Catalonia Day #2

Llun blog 2

After a good night’s sleep and a delicious breakfast, the group walked toward the Metro to meet Maria downtown. A group of 22 visitors on public transport is a sight worth seeing. Today’s visit was to the school / college vocational Institut Carles Vallbona in Granollers that was located around an hour from the city by train.

The aim of the visit was to hear more from the educational institution on how they integrated multilingualism within the curriculum in order to normalise language learning. This was an industrial area famous for the chemical industry, with some courses corresponding to the need for specific skills in this area.

We were welcomed by the Principal and then the staff and students were responsible for presenting us with an overview of the pioneering work on language learning.

The definition of multilingualism in Catalonia is the ability to communicate in Catalan, Spanish and English with all three languages ​​being treated with equal respect, and each having three dedicated hours of teaching per week. They also introduce other languages, for example German and French. In order to demonstrate their awareness of the Welsh language they used Welsh words on their presentations, however Welsh is not on their curriculum just yet!

It is evident that project activity is a powerful tool that strengthens language skills and understanding of multilingualism and as a result improves the communication skills and employability of their learners. Each project includes partnering with other foreign countries, either by visiting or e-twinning. Certainly there is an opportunity here for Welsh colleges to partake in this activity, and some are already engaged.

We heard from two 15-year-old students who were particularly inspiring as they spoke fluently and confidently in plain English (their third language) on the importance of multilingualism. Students commented on how being bilingual enables them to access other languages, which consequently enriches their lives. They felt that language is an integral part of their culture and heritage, echoing similarity to the Welsh saying ‘A nation without a language is a nation without a soul’. Do Welsh students share and feel the same pride towards their own language? And if not, why not??

What was clear was that the languages were not only taught as subjects but used in subject teaching, e.g. marketing, business etc., to ensure that the relevant context was provided as well as the language. Language is a tool of communication.

There were similarities in their immersion scheme for welcoming new-comers (immigrants) as part of their ‘Welcome’ project to our ESOL program at home. The difference was that they were immersed in Catalan and not Spanish, whilst we remain focused on teaching English to newcomers and don’t necessarily introduce Welsh.

We visited the traditional college classrooms where they taught marketing, business, information technology and languages, in each class we heard (in plain English) about the student experiences of learning and use of languages. To some extent our questions regarding language training were rather odd as it is such a normal part of education for them in Catalonia, as they speak three languages ​​as a natural part of their life at school / college as a direct result of wise and firm language legislation since 1983.

Over lunch in a small Italian restaurant we spoke some more with our host Maria and Olga from the college.

Following lunch Olga gave a presentation on the college education system including the curriculum delivery. The provision at this school includes compulsory education, vocational school, technical school and the provision of higher education all situated under one roof.

Echoes of messages from yesterday continued, with further focus on SMART specific labor market driven delivery that supported success for students in the long run. As part of this, the ability to use three languages in compulsory education and vocational education is evident.

Real life evidence of a system actively supporting multilingualism came from a  higher education information technology student whose mother tongue was Arabic, and had gone on to be trilingual and was now speaking five languages as a result of the education system that has embraced multilingualism. He felt privileged to be Catalan, as it was a country renowned for facilitating, promoting and implementing sound and innovative linguistic policies.

As we left college, some of us were overcome with a feeling of envy to live in such a country where people use languages (two and more) naturally throughout their daily activities, where they compliment and add to the nations sense of identity. As the KA1 Erasmus+ Catalonia group sing the Welsh national anthem to thank the hosts, the sense of pride for our country and language and our shared hope for a truly bilingual (multilingual) country returns. O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau. (May the old language continue to survive (and grow!) ……

Posted in Skills | Leave a comment