UWTSD welcomed Education Secretary Kirsty Williams AM to the university’s Yr Athrofa (Institute of Education) on Friday, January 12.
During her visit she was given an update on the university’s radical new approach to teacher education by Vice-chancellor Professor Medwin Hughes and Professor Dylan Jones, Dean of Yr Athrofa.
The Cabinet Secretary also spoke to students and outlined the Welsh Government’s vision for education’s future in Wales.
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.” Kirsty Williams told students:
“The overall objective of our National Mission is simple, clear and ambitious. Together, we will raise standards, reduce the attainment gap, and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and enjoys public confidence.
“You won’t be surprised to hear that you, our teachers of tomorrow, are absolutely integral to this National Mission.”
She continued by addressing the new curriculum and the coming changes for education in Wales: “I wanted to talk to you about it because not only is it hugely important, but it also is a good reflection of how we do things differently in Wales – how we trust in you – our teaching profession.
“By introducing a transformational new curriculum, we have set ourselves a big task. I make no apologies for that.
“Our new curriculum will represent what we want – what we expect – the citizens of the future to become, to know, and to have gained from their teachers.”
Telling her audience that educationalists ‘around the world’ are waiting to see how Wales’ education system develops, Ms Williams said: “Our education system can only be as good as our teachers. Providing good quality training is therefore a priority for this government.
“Initial Teacher Training is incredibly important, but it doesn’t end there. This is just the beginning.
“I expect teachers to take control of their professional learning, whilst also being given the time to teach, and have confidence in what they’re teaching.
“As teachers, we will support you through the new Professional Standards for teaching: promoting ambition, aspiration and ownership. Raising the standing of the profession as a whole.
“I need to be clear here: I do not mean that I think the standard of teaching in Wales is sub-par, far from it, I know full well of the excellence already in our education system.
“Instead, these new standards will establish a high-status teaching profession by providing a framework to support the development of leadership capacity all levels.”
Kirsty Williams concluded by telling the students: “it is you – as individuals, as a collective, as future leaders – that are changing the course of our education story.
“Working together, to ensure a child’s background doesn’t determine their future. Together, to raise standards in all of our schools. Together, so Wales can become a world leader in education.”
Professor Dylan 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.” Professor Medwin 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.
“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.”