Important Education updates from Bridgend County Borough Council
Schools given thousands of devices to assist with home learning
Thousands of devices have been distributed to schools across Bridgend County Borough, helping teaching to be carried out remotely since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Schools in the county borough have received more than 4,500 new devices from Welsh Government’s Hwb project since February 2020, with another 2,000 scheduled to be given out by the end of this financial year.
These include new laptops, desktop computers, Chromebooks and iPads for use within schools, as well as to help digitally-excluded pupils who would have difficulty joining lessons from home.
All 2,000 pupils identified as digitally excluded by schools across the county borough have now been helped by the council with each receiving the kit they need to learn from home.
This includes a mixture of old and new equipment, including 500 new laptops that were purchased by Bridgend County Borough Council, 550 older laptops that were rebuilt as Chromebooks and 310 Mi-Fi dongles for home internet access, which were bought using Welsh Government funding.
Robbie Owen, Headteacher at Penybont Primary School, said: “The Welsh Government Hwb project has enabled us to provide every pupil in our school, who would have otherwise been digitally excluded, with a device to access off-site learning.
“The project has ensured all pupils have the same opportunities as each other to access work and stay in touch with their teacher and peers.
“With the help of this project, we have seen 91% of pupils engage in off-site learning, including daily tasks, live check-in sessions with teachers, live feedback and essential wellbeing sessions.
“The parents and pupils who have received devices from us have been extremely grateful and have demonstrated their eagerness to learn through high engagement with our off-site provision.”
Year 6 pupil Theo said: “Having the use of the laptop from school has meant I can keep up to date with my school work and get help from my teacher. I’ve also been able to keep in touch with my friends in the live sessions.”
Cllr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education, said: “School staff have worked really hard to help pupils to continue to learn from home amid the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Thanks to assistance from Welsh Government, the council has been able to distribute laptops and dongles to more than 2,000 digitally-excluded learners across the county borough so they can keep up with their school work and stay in touch with their teachers and classmates.
“Where further digitally-excluded learners are highlighted, we have some laptops and dongles ready to issue where needed.
“Schools continue to offer a blend of learning strategies to meet the needs of pupils as we await guidance from Welsh Government about when they can return to the classroom.
“Many thanks to our teachers, pupils and their parents and carers for their ongoing patience and understanding.”
Additional learning needs funding agreement approved
The Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council has approved an agreement in relation to funding to support learners with additional learning needs (ALN).
Welsh Government’s ALN Transformation Grant 2020-21 has been set up to support partnerships between local authorities and other agencies involved in supporting learners with ALN, such as schools, further education institutes, early years’ providers, specialist post-16 providers, local health boards and the third sector.
Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council (RCTCBC) acts as the lead local authority on the grant on behalf of Bridgend County Borough Council, as well as Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and Vale of Glamorgan councils.
A funding award of £934,562 has been made to RCTCBC which will be allocated to delivery partners in accordance with the ALN Implementation Plan. Bridgend County Borough Council expects to receive just under £70,000.
Cllr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said: “The ALN Transformation Programme aims to ensure that all learners are supported to overcome barriers to learning and can achieve their full potential.
“This funding will help us to deliver services and support to meet these duties alongside other organisations, while working collaboratively across the region with other local authorities.”
Cabinet approved the agreement with RCTCBC and the final terms will now be negotiated.