Highly commended arts project making progress

The project that will link the communities of Llantrisant and Llanwit Fardre in Wales with the communities of Cam and Dursley in England is making progress project leader Councillor Jonathan Bishop has said.

The Emotivate project, led by Councillor Jonathan Bishop, was highly commended in 2014 by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council. Courtesy:
HIGHLY COMMENDED: The Emotivate project, led by Councillor Jonathan Bishop, was highly commended in 2014 by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council. Courtesy: Jonathan Bishop Limited

Councillor Jonathan Bishop is the councillor for Lower Cam in Gloucestershire, and is also seeking election to be the councillor for Llantrisant Town. Having formerly served as the councillor for Llantwit Fardre also, he says being a councillor in England is already making the whole project easier to achieve. “I have already been in communication with sustainable development and arts funding organisations in both England and Wales, and the project is coming together nicely,” he said. “I have the legitimacy of the office in Cam, like I did in Treforest when I did the project there.
Becoming the councillor for Llantrisant Town will make things even easier.
“I already have the involvement of Rhondda Cynon Taf’s youth offending services, and have made contact with the Arts Council for Wales.

We are in the process of appointing the artist for the Wales side of the project and have had a number of applicants, even from as far as West Wales.

The Emotivate Project, as it is called, was highly commended by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council in the Love Where You Live Awards in 2014. As Councillor Bishop explains, the project is intended to bring the whole community together. “The plans are that young people from the various schools in Llantrisant, Llantwit Fardre, Cam and Dursley, will come together through the Internet to design murals that reflect the areas’ past, present and future, as well as what happened during times of war and peace,” he said. “The aim will then be for the murals they design to be painted by the young offenders, so they can be seen to be giving back by supporting the young achievers’ designs.

Further information on The Emotivate Project can be found on the project’s website at: http://www.emotivate.org.uk.

Youth environmental project to come to Llantrisant

An innovative environmental project is set to expand its reach to Llantrisant, it has been revealed.

The Emotivate Project is set to expand its reach from Llantwit Fardre into Llantrisant in Wales as part of ambitious plans to link young people the two areas with other youths in Cam and Dursley in England.

These young people helped design and paint the murals displayed at the St Dyfrig's Underpass in Treforest.
YOUNG AT ART: These young people helped design and paint the murals displayed at the St Dyfrig’s Underpass in Treforest. Courtesy: Jonathan Bishop Limited.

The Emotivate Project was highly commended by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council in 2014. It was the brainchild of Councillor Jonathan Bishop, who is also seeking election to Llantrisant Town in Wales and is already the parish councillor for Lower Cam in England, hoping to combine the two roles. “I hope that by being the local councillor for both communities I can make this project happen in a more ambitious fashion,” he said. “I have been a local councillor for 25 per cent of my life and as I have already run this project in Treforest and Llanwit Fardre, having served on the councils in both those areas.”

The Emotivate Project gives young people the chance to develop their understanding of the history area at the same time as improve their IT skills in order to design and paint a mural reflecting their ideas of the area’s past and present and what they want the future to be like.

Mark Beech is the Chief Personnel, Strategy & Quality Officer at the Crocels Community Media Group, which the project is being run under the auspices of. “I am really pleased that Councillor Jonathan Bishop will be running our highly commended project, not only in Llantwit Fardre as planned, but Llantrisant also,” he said. “Being a historian myself, I am confident that Jonathan has designed a programme that will energise young people to have the passion for the history of Llantrisant and Llanwit Fardre that he has.

ART ACTION: Jonathan Bishop coordinated the restoration of the underpass in Treforest as part of the Emotivate Project. Courtesy: Jonathan Bishop Limited.
ART ACTION: Jonathan Bishop coordinated the restoration of the underpass in Treforest as part of the Emotivate Project. Courtesy: Jonathan Bishop Limited.

Councillor Jonathan Bishop said his project would help bring both communities in England and Wales together, promoting fellowship between the two nations. “Being a Freeman of Llantrisant I am proud to stand for election in the town,” he said. “My grandfather founded the Llantrisant Workingmen’s Club, former Council Chairman Ivor Jacob is a relative, my Great Aunt Lottie was a musician in the town, my great grandfather was a carpenter who worked on the Parish Church’s roof.
This project will be going ahead whether I win or lose, and there is so much the communities have in common without having to share the same councillor.
We have the Billy Wynt in Llantrisant, and Cam has Cam Peak.
We have the Cwm Coke Works here, and Cam and Dursley have Cam Mills.
Llantrisant has its castle ruins, and Dursley Castle has legendary status there too.

Merthyr School pupils win South Wales Engineering Competition

The Afon Taf High School Year 9 pupils competed in the Engineering Team Challenge against 22 other schools from across South Wales. The competition was held at several venues across South Wales late last year including the University of South Wales, Parc Y Scarlets, Swansea University and Cardiff University.

The Engineering Team Challenge is designed to inspire pupils to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM subjects) as well as give them an insight into how rewarding a career in engineering can be. This year the main activity was based around Coastal Engineering, to show an aspect of Civil Engineering which is a vital part of our infrastructure, as unfortunately recently demonstrated around the UK. Over 300 school pupils took part in the Challenge of producing an optimum Coastal Structure to defend a model village, town and energy suppliers from a tsunami wave.

The team from Afon Taf High School produced a design for the costal defence structure which very effectively defended the model town from the destructive tsunami wave. Combined with their great performance at the ‘cardscraper’ activity (making the tallest tower out of play cards), they gathered more points than any other team throughout the week to become the south Wales Engineering Team Challenge 2015 overall winner.

Julie James AM is the Deputy Minister for Technology and Skills at the Welsh Government.
IT GIRL: Julie James AM is the Deputy Minister for Technology and Skills at the Welsh Government. Courtesy: Obtained from YouTube.

Each pupil received individual cinema tickets as their prize and the school was presented with a trophy by the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James AM. “I’m delighted to award Afon Taf High School Year 9 pupils with their Engineering Team Challenge trophy and prizes,” she said. “I have to say I was extremely impressed with their design and their evident enthusiasm for the Challenge.
The Welsh Government is committed to increasing the number of young people that study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
Competitions like the Engineering Team Challenge are a great way of encouraging young learners to develop an interest in these subjects which have the potential to lead on to highly skilled and well paid careers.

Cliff Smith is the Headteacher at Afon Taf High School. “I am extremely proud of the way our pupils performed in this competition,” he said. “Such opportunities can spark a pupil’s interest in having a career in engineering.
We are fortunate at Afon Taf High School to have an outstanding engineering and technology department with state of the art facilities and teachers who both inspire and motivate pupils to achieve their full potential.

Emma Davies is Head of Design and Technology and STEM Co-Ordinator at Afon Taf High School. “The event was absolutely fantastic,” he said. “It really gave the pupils an insight into engineering and what a career in the sector would involve.
The coastal engineering activity was challenging, but also fun and the tour of the university raised their aspirations and lots of the pupils expressed an interest in studying engineering at degree level.
It is fantastic that an all-female team won the challenge as I have been actively promoting the subject as an option for the girls to take at GCSE level.
I feel that this has given them the confidence to do so.

Keith Jones is the Director of ICE Wales Cymru. “Civil engineering is a diverse, fascinating and exciting industry, where you can literally shape the world in which we live and make a real difference,” he said. “We – engineering institutions, industry and academia – must do more to show this crucial generation of schoolchildren, their parents and their teachers, the range of opportunities on offer.
Schools also have a duty to lead the drive in overcoming outdated perceptions about careers in engineering, and ensure they are accessible to all.
It is estimated that engineering companies will need nearly 200,000 people a year with engineering skills by 2022.
This means we need to double the number of apprentices and graduates entering the industry. This is the scale of the challenge we face, and this is why collaborative, inspirational competitions like Engineering Tea Challenge are so important.
Civil Engineering is a fascinating and rewarding career and it is a delight and pleasure to work with pupils at schools to show them how civil engineers help the infrastructure of Wales.

Maesycoed Primary School win Magna Carta competition

A national competition to design a flag in memory of 800 years since Magna Carta has been won by Maesycoed Primary School.

Pupils at Maesycoed Primary School designed one of 80 flags that were flown in Parliament Square in May.

Returning the flag to the school, local Member of Parliament Owen Smith praised the pupils. “I’m incredibly proud of the hard work by the pupils of Maesycoed Primary in designing such a brilliant flag,” he said. “The fact that the flag represents Pontypridd’s rich history is testament to the creativity of the children and I’m delighted to bring the flag back to Pontypridd where it can be flown proudly.
I’d like to thank all of the students and teachers for their brilliant efforts and I want to congratulate them on such a fantastic achievement!

Jonathan Bishop contested the Rhondda ward by-election as Dzon in 2013, which is where Maesycoed Primary School is based. “Magna Carta represented the theoretical introduction of the rule of law into British society,” he said. “I say in theory because in reality there are huge problems in providing access to justice to all, and therefore the rule of law only applies in a limited number of circumstances.

Llandaff pupils sell to Cardiff Met

Year 7 pupils at Howell’s School in Llandaff, Cardiff, have raised £243 for mental health charity, Ty Hapus, by serving tea and food at near by Cardiff Metropolitan University.

The pupils helped prepare and serve tea and food to the family members of university staff and the parents and grandparents of the children.

OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Cardiff Metropolitan University's School of Management building. Courtesy: Obtained from Wikipedia.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Cardiff Metropolitan University’s welcomes Llandaff school pupils. Obtained from Wikipedia.

Lisa Wright is a senior lecturer in hospitality at Cardiff Metropolitan University. “We were delighted to welcome pupils from Howell’s School to Cardiff Met,” she said. “It was great to see them benefit so much from our hospitality suite facilities and the knowledge of our staff and students.
The pupils were able to focus on a range of skills from team work and communication to leadership and time management – all of which are hugely beneficial to their education and future careers.
After three days’ hard work it was superb to see how much they had raised for Ty Hapus – well done to everyone involved.

Former Cardiff Metropolitan University student, Jonathan Bishop, recalls a similar project when he was at college. “Directly prior to becoming a student at UWIC in 1996 in took part in the Young Enterprise Project at South Devon College,” he said. “Like these Howell’s pupils, I sold products to people at the college and members of the public.
I have achieved my goal at college of setting up a printing company at age 31, and the design and print course I did at UWIC following the Young Enterprise Project was an important part of that.
I hope the Howell’s School students will use their experience to go onto a career as a entrepreneur.

Are young people being held hostage by smart devices?

A new report published by the Youth Sports Trust has revealed that nearly 25% of children consider playing video games as a form of exercise.

Nearly 75% of young people have access to games consoles, and daily screen time eclipses activity time with young people averaging close to 3 hours per day using technology.

Amongst 11 year olds, 70% say they watch YouTube, 15% log into Facebook and 11% post on Instagram.

Ali Oliver, chief exec of the YST, says that the digital revolution presents opportunities and challenges with young people “potentially held hostage” to their handheld devices.

The trust has called for more PE and technology integration in schools, and the government has provided £300m in funding earmarked to “prioritising PE” and improving school sport.

Some 75% of the five to 16 year olds surveyed say they enjoy PE at school and two-thirds feel better after taking part in sport.

Edward Timpson, the Children’s Minister, is encouraged that the research shows millions of young people are enjoying PE lessons. “[PE] remains a government priority,” he said.

But the report says that there is “no resisting” the march of technology and in order to get children active a more holistic approach to PE is needed. It recommends one which “integrates technology and the delivery of a seamless, intuitive and digitally enhanced form of physical activity.”

Some believe there is a block in teachers using technology in lessons due to a lack of training or software comprehension. A college worker has described that some lecturers “just don’t want to know” about using animations or apps.

Others note that technology has been historically blamed as leading to sedentary lifestyles: books, radio, TV, video games and now smart devices face criticism despite it being difficult to pin-point their attributions to overall physical wellbeing.

One parent notes that it would not be difficult to create parental controls to deactivate devices remotely. “[The report] clearly signals that action is needed now to modernise approaches,” says Oliver.

Youth Rights ‘should be at heart’ of digital bill

DIGITAL EQUALITY: Internet trolling expert, Dzon, thinks youth rights should be at the heart of the proposed Digital Rights Bill. Courtesy: Steve Powerhill Photography.
DIGITAL EQUALITY: Internet trolling expert, Dzon, thinks youth rights should be at the heart of the proposed Digital Rights Bill. Courtesy: Steve Powerhill Photography.

An Internet trolling expert and general election candidate has thrown his weight behind the Lib Dems’ plans for a Digital Rights Bill, but says youth rights should be a core feature.

The Pluralist Party candidate for Liverpool Walton, Dzon, known professionally as Jonathan Bishop, says he fully supports Liberal Democrat proposals for a Digital Rights Bill. “Whilst as a trolling expert I know that current laws are good enough to protect rights to free speech and from Internet abuse, a new law to set out case law and CPS best practice in black and white will stop the misuse and lack of use of current legislation,” he said. “It is essential that at the heart of this bill that youth rights are protected, as all too often it is young people that are prosecuted and convicted for trolling, even though if case law like DPP v Chambers were applied they would be found innocent.
A new Digital Rights Bill should insert into existing trolling law like the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and Malicious Communications Act 1988 prescribed defences against prosecution based on what is set out in DPP v Chambers, DPP v Collins, DPP v Connolly and the DPP’s guidance on offences arising out of social media, so that only those incidents of trolling that are illegal are prosecute whereas those that are free speech are not.

Nick Clegg is leader of the Liberal Democrats who has proposed the Digital Rights Bill. “The way in which we work, socialise, buy products and use services has changed at lightning speed since the digital revolution,” he said. “However government and politicians have responded at snail’s pace, and failed to ensure the rights of consumers, businesses, journalists and children are protected in the online world.
Our Digital Rights Bill will finally enshrine into law our rights as citizens of this country to privacy, to stop information about us being abused online, and to protect our right to freedom of speech.

Lib Dem proposals include a Code of Practice for online services who would by law have to correct information about members of the public where it is inaccurate or defamatory and enshrine in law the responsibility of government to defend the free press, including the rights of journalists and citizen journalists to express their views freely online.

School pupils to learn receive internet safety session focusing on social media

School pupils in the Alford area of Aberdeenshire will receive special training on internet safety issues from an expert in child exploitation and online protection.

School pupils from the local area will receive advice and training on how to stay safe while using the internet and social media later this month.

Support is also being made available to parents and communities in the Alford area, through the sessions being run by Alford Wellbeing & Health Group (WHIG) and funded by Garioch and North Marr Community Safety Partnership.

Through their work with young people, the Alford WHIG, a group of local partners and agencies, identified a need to work on issues around internet safety.

The local NHS Grampian School Police Liaison Officer will deliver tailor-made sessions to primary schools in the Alford network during the week beginning Monday 24 March.

Paul Hay will deliver presentations to all pupils in Alford Academy on Thursday 27 March. He will address issues including cyber-bullying, grooming, misuse of personal information, false friendships through social networking and look at popular social media programmes like Facebook, Twitter and MSN.

Parents and members of the wider community are invited to an evening session on Thursday 27 March at Alford Academy. Mr Hay will speak on current concerns and issues around social media use and help parents feel better equipped to speak to their children about the potential dangers of social media. Members of Alford WHIG will also speak about their role and the support they can provide.

Members of Alford Library staff are developing a series of resources on social media use which will be available to the public through the library and other public venues.

Dawn Tuckwood is the Marr Area Public Health Coordinator. “The Alford WHIG identified the need to focus on internet safety, both for young people, but also for parents, families and the wider community,” she said. “The evening event will address how to keep yourself, your children, your family and your community safe online and all are welcome.
There will be stands of information available and guest speakers to answer questions and deal with emerging community issues.

Councillor Ron McKail is Chair of Garioch and North Marr Community Safety Partnership. “We are delighted to be able to support this event which is tackling an issue of increasing importance to our young people and communities,” he said. “Social media is a part of life for today’s young people and a great way for them to interact with friends and be part of the online culture.
These sessions are about encouraging responsible use of the internet and raising awareness of the potential risks and dangers associated with social media and I would encourage all parents to attend the evening session.

Alford WHIG is a partnership of key agencies working to identify joint issues which affect the health and wellbeing of the wider community. With over 25 years of experience in the IT industry, Paul Hay is an independent trainer who educates education and welfare establishments on issues of internet safety. For further information please visit: http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/

Rhondda families enjoy learning together

Families in the Rhondda Fach in South Wales have benefitted from a new project designed to help support children while they are at school.

Rhondda Fach Communities First Cluster launched the second phase of the groundbreaking Families Enjoying Learning Together (FELT) project in a bid to improve long-term educational success in the Rhondda Fach.

The project has welcomed parents, grandparents and carers of pupils in Years 2 and Year 3 in Maerdy Primary, Tylorstown Primary, Darran Park Primary, Ferndale Infants, Pontygwaith Primary, Penrhys Primary and YGG Llyn y Forwyn since January.

Families have taken part in weekly sessions providing a friendly and supportive environment for learning for both adults and children. All activities were relevant to the school curriculum, but with an emphasis on making learning fun.

Skills developed with the support of Rhondda Cynon Taf Adult Education department included speaking and listening, reading and writing.

The first hour of the sessions gave mums, dads, grandparents and carers the opportunity to brush-up on their own skills, whilst learning about what their child is doing in school. They put their learning into practice in the second hour, when they were joined by their children for activities such as music, stories and crafts.

SCHOOLS OF ENGAGEMENT: Education Cabinet Member Eudine Hanagan welcomes new programme.
SCHOOLS OF ENGAGEMENT: Education Cabinet Member Eudine Hanagan welcomes new programme.

Cllr Eudine Hanagan is the Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning on Rhondda Cynon Taf Council. “This programme is all about getting parents to engage with the school,” she said. “The feedback we’ve had shows children, parents, grandparents and carers have enjoyed and benefitted from their time spent in the sessions.

Mum Susan Bennett of Ferndale, whose twin daughters Grace and Hannah attend Darran Park Primary School, attended the sessions and says they have been beneficial. “It’s going to build my confidence,” she said. “It is good to talk to mums of a similar mind who want to be with their children here.
It is nice to see there are parents who want to improve themselves for the benefit of their children.

Cllr Maureen Webber is the Cabinet Member for Council Business and Public Relations on RCT Council. “This project is a good example of the positive work being done locally by Communities First,” she said. “The first phase of the FELT project comes to an end this month and there are plans to continue it in the autumn.

Pupils Delighted With ‘New-Look’ School

The ‘new-look’ expansion of Cwmbach Primary School has opened its doors to pupils and staff has delivered on its promise, providing an extra 150 infant places at the school in the Cynon Valley in South Wales.

The Finance Minister from the Welsh Government, Jane Hutt, has visited the $11 million (£6.7m) school, which boasts a new state-of-the-art infants building housing five classrooms, as well as facilities for staff, a kitchen, a main hall and a new reception area. Cynon Valley Member of Parliament, Ann Clwyd, and Welsh Assembly Member, Christine Chapman also attended the opening.

The junior block at the school has also been refurbished as part of the works and a high quality multi-use games area (MUGA) has been added to the existing sports pitch. Cllr Eudine Hanagan, is the Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning on Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council which is the local authority resposible for education in the locality. “During these tough economic times, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council remains committed to education in the 21st Century,” she said. “Providing the best possible school facilities for our children and young people in Rhondda Cynon Taf has long-since been one of our top priorities and it is clear that given the widespread investment plans throughout the County Borough we are delivering on our pledges.

NEW SCHOOL: From left, Cynon Valley AM Christine Chapman, Cllr Eudine Hanagan, Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd and Headteacher Elaine King. Courtesy: Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council
NEW SCHOOL: From left, Cynon Valley AM Christine Chapman, Cllr Eudine Hanagan, Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd and Headteacher Elaine King. Courtesy: Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council

Despite having to make tough decisions in to bridge the Council’s funding gap, the multi-million-pound expansion of Cwmbach Primary School provides much-needed accommodation for a growing population in the region as well as improving primary school provision. Cwmbach Primary School now has ‘photovoltaic’ panelling to boost the building’s energy efficiency. It also has a green roof, surface water attenuation and sprinklers, which are linked to the old building.

Eudine Hanagan believes the project will have lasting benefits. “We take great pride in the standard of education we offer our pupils, both in the classroom and through extra-curricular activities,” she said. “We know that young people’s learning is often a product of their environment and the exceptional investment in schools throughout the County Borough will have a long-term positive impact on our young people.”

Neal Stephens, managing director of Willmott Dixon in Wales who delivered the project in association with RCT Council. “Willmott Dixon has a strong relationship with the Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and has worked with them on several similar projects,” he said. “We were pleased to be working alongside them once again to deliver this fantastic expansion at Cwmbach Primary School.”

The completed project is part of an ongoing $140 million (£83m) investment by the Council in education facilities within the County Borough. This includes the opening of new schools in Penywaun, Llanharri, Abercynon and Williamstown and further projects for Ynysboeth and Aberdare.