Tag Archives: rural communities

The rest of us can learn from what the Welsh are doing with education….

Two recent press releases have caught my eye. As PPC for North Devon, a rural economy where, on average, schools get £300 less per pupil than in the rest of England, I am keen on education reform. Key to that is ensuring good teaching and supporting our teachers.

So I was pleased to see that Welsh Lib Dem Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has announced the single biggest investment in Wales’ teachers since devolution. This is through a groundbreaking £24m package to help teachers deliver Wales’ new curriculum. Kirsty says,

This major investment shows how highly we value teachers’ professional learning. It is an investment in excellence and we are aiming for nothing less than a wholesale reform of how teachers learn; a process that starts from the moment they begin initial teacher education and goes right the way through their career.

The National Approach to Professional Learning (NAPL) will focus on flexible ways of learning that don’t disrupt the school day. A much more accessible blend of learning will be available through Wales’ regions and universities. This will encompass learning outside the classroom, online learning, classroom learning and coaching.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented,

This announcement is yet another example of the transformational reforms the Welsh Lib Dems are implementing in our national mission to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and public confidence.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are committed to creating a Wales where every child has the opportunity to achieve their potential and determine their own destiny. This funding will help us realise this vision.

Not only are the Welsh investing in teachers, but they are also protecting rural schools.  Kirsty Williams introduced a new, stronger code last week which includes a presumption against the closure of rural schools. This is part of a wider Rural Education Plan which also includes a Small and Rural Schools Grant.

Posted in Op-eds and Wales | Also tagged , , , and | 6 Comments

North Devon Council passes motion calling for Brexit symposium

There is increasing worry about the impact of Brexit on our local economies and the recognition that it is important to make plans for all eventualities.

Last night, the Lib Dems in Opposition on North Devon (District) Council put forward a motion to examine exactly that:

The impact of Brexit (hard or soft) will affect all North Devon residents. This Council believes that with Brexit fast approaching, it is both sensible and realistic that the potential risks and impact of Brexit on North Devon – good and bad, short term and long term – are fully understood as far as is possible and aired in public together with detailed discussion on how these impacts can be mitigated. To achieve this, this Council undertakes to organize and co-ordinate a public conference/symposium before Christmas in which North Devon’s experts and leaders in business, farming, tourism, education, health and social services and other areas are invited to participate, together with elected representatives at all levels. This council is uniquely placed to lead this initiative by immediately setting up a Cross Party Working Group. The findings and conclusions of the symposium would be presented as a report to full Council and other authorities. Furthermore we request that consideration be given to how this Council can assist businesses etc. before and during the transition period.

I am pleased to say that the motion passed, with support from some Conservatives and Independents who recognised the need for such a symposium.

Cllr David Worden, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on North Devon Council, spoke passionately for the motion:

Whenever we turn on the news or read the newspapers it appears that the headlines are all about Brexit. I don’t want to go into the pros and cons of whether we should or should not leave the EU but I am extremely concerned about the impact of Brexit on the economy of North Devon. We live in one of the most deprived areas of the South West. There are hardly any services which have not been hit by austerity cuts. We simply cannot sit back and let the disastrous No Deal scenario, which seems ever likely, to be upon us, unprepared.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 2 Comments

A Minister for Youth Affairs is needed to stop young people being driven out of rural life

Jane Dodds BridgeIn our part of the world, rural Powys, driving is often the only practical way to get around, especially for young people. The proposals this week to improve young driver safety could have a severe impact on the job prospects and lifestyles of young people in rural areas like ours.

Montgomeryshire in mid-Wales is the least densely populated county in England and Wales; 59.3% of us live in isolated, rural hamlets and isolated dwellings. Getting access to health, education, housing and jobs is a challenge for anyone living in a rural community like this. Add on to that the challenge of being a young person and the barriers mount up.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Opinion: the importance of the rural bus

I recently visited Ivy in Ashmore Green. A woman in her eighties, Ivy is still bright and lively. When I met her, she had recently given up driving and was still reeling from discovering that her local bus service, the 76, that connects Ashmore Green to the rest of the world, runs once a week.

Now, all credit to Jacs Minicoaches for running this service, but a bus that runs just once a week is not something around which you can build a life. A thriving community depends on more than just driving-age adults.

  • How are youngsters supposed to get to school

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 4 Comments

LibLink…Tavish Scott: Community councils empower the people

One of the big themes in Scottish politics in recent years has been the Labour and SNP impulse to centralise anything that stands still for long enough. The SNP Government, against all good advice and much opinion, recently merged Scotland’s 8 police forces into one.

In contrast, the Liberal Democrats under Willie Rennie’s leadership have been emphasising giving power to local communities. Tavish Scott, MSP for Shetland writes in the Scotsman about how giving more power to community councils could help deliver the sorts of services communities need, including schools.He cites the example of a plan to close a secondary school …

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , , and | 2 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 16th Jul - 12:54pm
    Part of the solution is creating a more stable tripartite structure to our governance where parliament, government and the judiciary have more distinct roles overseen...
  • User AvatarPaul Barker 16th Jul - 12:31pm
    @ David Raw You make some good points but I was really thinking of Labour since 1950. There have been 2 Labour Government that made...
  • User AvatarNick Barlow 16th Jul - 12:25pm
    The report that list of supposed benefits of uniform comes from contains no evidence to justify any of those claims.
  • User AvatarMick Taylor 16th Jul - 12:11pm
    Peter Martin. I want real devolution with both the power and the cash to do the job properly. And yes, there will have to be...
  • User AvatarMatt (Bristol) 16th Jul - 12:10pm
    Call me a centrist fudging incrementalist, but I think this is as Simon says, a reasonable step forward with many positive points and different ways...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 16th Jul - 12:10pm
    Joseph, Quoting someone else is not the same as you actually saying it. Also the Vince quote doesn’t say what you said. You have now...