From Researching Virtual Initiatives in Education
For entities in Wales see Category:Wales
Wales is one of the four home nations of the United Kingdom:
For general information see United Kingdom.
However, education is devolved by the UK government to the four home nations so that many details are specific to the home nation involved.
Partners and Experts in Wales
There are no VISCED partners based in Wales. However, Sero has done work in Wales, in particular for benchmarking e-learning.
There is not currently an IAC member for Wales.
Wales in a nutshell
(Sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wales)
Wales (Welsh: Cymru) is a country that is part (one of the four home nations) of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west.
Wales has a population just under 3 million (http://wales.gov.uk/topics/statistics/headlines/population2010/101027/?lang=en), and a total area of 20,779 km² (8,023 sq mi). Its capital is Cardiff.
Wales has over 1,200 km (746 mi) of coastline, including its offshore islands; the largest, Anglesey (Ynys Môn), is also the largest island in the Irish Sea. Generally mountainous, its highest mountains are in the north and central areas, especially in Snowdonia (Eryri), which contains Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), its highest peak.
For the purposes of local government, Wales has been divided into 22 council areas since 1996. These "unitary authorities" are responsible for the provision of all local government services.
In 2011, Wales' population was estimated to have risen to over 3 million for the first time (mid 2010 estimate: 3,006,400). Data from the last census (2001) reported the population in Wales as 2,903,085.
The main population and industrial areas are in South Wales, consisting of the cities of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport and surrounding areas, with another significant population in the north-east around Wrexham. Most non-white groups in Wales are concentrated in the southern port cities of Cardiff, Newport and Swansea. Welsh Asian and African communities developed mainly through immigration since the Second World War. In the early 21st century, parts of Wales saw an increased number of immigrants settle from recent EU accession countries such as Poland; though a 2007 study showed a relatively low number of employed immigrant workers from the former Eastern bloc countries in Wales compared to other regions of the United Kingdom.
In the 2001 Labour Force Survey, 72% of adults in Wales considered their national identity as wholly Welsh and another 7% considered themselves to be partly Welsh (Welsh and British were the most common combination). A recent study estimated that 35% of the Welsh population have surnames of Welsh origin. Just over 1.75 million Americans report themselves to have Welsh ancestry, as did 440,965 Canadians in Canada's 2006 census.
The Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Government of Wales Act 1998 provide that the English and Welsh languages be treated on a basis of equality. English is spoken by almost all people in Wales and is the de facto main language. "Code-switching" is common in all parts of Wales and is known by various terms, though none is recognised by professional linguists. "Wenglish" is the Welsh English language dialect. It has been influenced significantly by Welsh grammar and includes words derived from Welsh.
Northern and western Wales retain many areas where Welsh is spoken as a first language by the majority of the population, and English learnt as a second language. The 2001 census showed 582,400 people, 20.8% of the Welsh population, were able to speak Welsh, an increase from the 19.0% shown in the 1981 census. According to language surveys conducted in 2004 and 2006, that number has dropped slightly to 20.5%, and the number of fluent speakers dropped by 3% between 1992 and 2006. Although monoglotism in young children continues, life-long monoglotism in Welsh is recognised to be a thing of the past.
Road signs in Wales are generally in both English and Welsh; where place names differ in the two languages, both versions are used (e.g. "Cardiff" and "Caerdydd"). The decision as to which is placed first is that of the local authority.
Education in Wales
(Sourced from a surprisingly brief Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Wales)
Since devolution, education policy in the four constituent countries of the UK has diverged. In particular while England has pursued reforms based on diversity of school types and parental choice, Wales (and Scotland) remain more committed to the concept of the community-based comprehensive school. Systems of governance and regulation - the arrangements for planning, funding, quality-assuring and regulating learning, and for its local administration - are becoming increasingly differentiated across the four home nations .
Education is compulsory beginning with the term following the child's fifth birthday, but may take place at either home or school. Most parents choosing to educate through school-based provision, however, enrol their children in the reception year in September of that school year, with most children thus beginning school at age four or four and a half. A child's age on the 1 September determines the point of entry into the relevant stage of education.
In 2008/09 there were 1,478 primary schools in Wales with 258,314 pupils and 12,343 full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers. The pupil/teacher ratio was 20 and the average class size was 24.4 pupils.
Pupils in secondary school take part in the compulsory GCSE and the non-compulsory A-level qualifications at age 16 and 18 respectively. Since 2007 the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification has also been available as an option. In 2008/09 there were 223 secondary schools in Wales with 205,421 pupils and 12,535 FTE teachers. The pupil/teacher ratio was 16.4.
Further education (FE) includes full- and part-time learning for people over compulsory school age, excluding higher education. FE and publicly-funded training in Wales is provided by 24 FE institutions and a range of public, private and voluntary sector training providers, such as the Workers' Educational Association. Colleges vary in size and mission, and include general FE, tertiary and specialist institutions, including one Roman Catholic Sixth Form College and a residential adult education college. Many colleges offer leisure learning and training programmes designed to meet the needs of business. In 2008/09 there were 236,780 FE students in Wales.
Students normally enter higher education (HE) from 18 onwards. All undergraduate education is largely state-financed (with Welsh students contributing £1,255), and students are generally entitled to student loans for maintenance. The state does not control syllabi, but it does influence admission procedures and monitors standards through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.
The typical first degree offered at Welsh universities is the Bachelor's degree, typically taking three years to complete full-time. Some institutions offer an undergraduate Master's degree as a first degree, typically lasting four years. During a first degree students are known as undergraduates. Some universities offer a vocationally-based Foundation degree, typically two years in length.
Overall there are at present (2011) 10 HE institutions in Wales of which one (the University of Glamorgan)i runs the one music conservatoire, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. The number of separate universities (though not the number of students) is declining and is set to decline further as various foreseen mergers take place.
In 2008/09 there were 146,465 enrolments at HE institutions in Wales, including 66,645 undergraduates and 23,260 postgraduates. Welsh HE institutions had a total of 8,840 academic staff.
Adult Community learning is a form of adult education or lifelong learning delivered and supported by local authorities in Wales. Programmes can be formal or informal, non-accredited or accredited, and vocational, academic or leisure orientated In 2008/09 there were 57,170 learners in Community Learning.
Schools in Wales
Primary schools (Sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_Education_in_Wales)
Primary Education in Wales has a similar structure to Primary Education in England, but teaching of the Welsh language is compulsory and it is used as the medium of instruction in many schools. The introduction of the Foundation Phase for 3-7 year olds is also creating increasing divergence between Wales and England.
In Wales, statutory education begins in the term after a child's fifth birthday, although many children start primary school earlier than this. Between the ages of 3 and 11 a child's education is divided into three main stages:
Primary schools in Wales must, by law, teach the basic curriculum and the National Curriculum. The basic curriculum consists of religious education (RE) and personal and social education (PSE). Primary schools are also required to have a policy on sex education. At Key Stages 1 and 2, the National Curriculum consists of "core subjects" (English, Welsh, mathematics and science) and non-core subjects - Welsh second language, design and technology, information technology, history, geography, art, music, physical education and religious education. There is no statutory requirement to teach English at Key Stage 1 in Welsh-medium schools.
Pupils are statutorily assessed to establish their starting point when they first enter school in the Reception Year or Year 1, and there are further statutory assessments in the core subjects at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2.
From September 2008 to September 2011, the Welsh Assembly Government is introducing a new Foundation Phase for children from 3 to 7 years of age, combining Early Years Education for 3 to 5 year-olds Key Stage 1 of the National Curriculum for 5 to 7-year olds. The Foundation Phase places a greater emphasis on experiential learning.
Secondary Education in Wales covers the period between the ages of 11 and 16. In this period a child's education is divided into two main stages of the National Curriculum: Key Stages 3 and 4.
Secondary schools in Wales must, by law, teach the basic and the National Curriculum to their pupils. The basic curriculum consists of religious education, sex education, personal and social education, and for 14-16 year olds, work-related education, the Welsh Baccalaureate is now online for pupils at KS4. Schools must also provide careers education and guidance for all 13-16-year-olds.
At Key Stage 3, the National Curriculum consists of the "core subjects" of English and Welsh, mathematics and science, and the "non-core subjects" of Welsh second language, modern foreign languages, design and technology, information technology, history, geography, art, music, physical education and religious education. At Key Stage 4, only five National Curriculum subjects are mandatory (English, Welsh or Welsh second language, mathematics, science, and physical education) and schools have greater flexibility to provide optional subjects that meet the needs and interests of their pupils. The majority of learners at this key stage follow courses leading to external qualifications, principally GCSEs.
In 2003, the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification was piloted at Key Stage 5/6. Subsequently Welsh Baccalaureate programmes have been introduced for study at three levels, Foundation, Intermediate or Advanced between ages 14–19 years.
In the UK private schools are normally called "independent schools" or (confusingly) "public schools" - as opposed to the "state schools" of the public sector.
In South Wales there are independent schools in the towns/cities of Brecon, Cardiff, Llandovery, Llanelli, Monmouth, Newport and Penarth (near Cardiff). For a list of schools (11 in all) see http://www.isc.co.uk/isc_WalesSouth.htm
In North Wales there are independent schools in Bangor, Colwyn Bay, Denbigh, Llandudno and Ruthin. For a list of schools (6 in all) see http://www.isc.co.uk/isc_WalesNorth.htm
No figures have yet surfaced on the number of homeschooled students in Wales.
However, the charity Education Otherwise reports that there are local Home Education groups in Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Glamorgan (Bridgend and Newport), Gwynedd, Monmouthshire (see in particular http://groups.yahoo.com/group/swhen/), Montgomeryshire (Llanfyllin), Neath Pt. Talbot, Powys (Newtown), and Wrexham (http://washe.co.uk).
There are no virtual schools run by local authorities. There also appear to be no private schools approved by the state that are virtual schools.
Further and Higher education
Universities in Wales
Higher Education in Wales is overseen by HEFCW, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.
Its mission is to:
On 12 October 2007 HEFCW released its consultation document Enhancing Learning and Teaching through Technology: a Strategy for Higher Education in Wales. This describes 13 Indicators of Success, seven short term and six long term, spread across five categories.
Higher Education in Wales is delivered via 11 distinct universities and higher education colleges in Wales, plus the Open University in Wales, as well as via a number of further education colleges that offer higher education courses. Funding is provided for the following:
Funding is also provided for:
There are seven HEIs who were involved in the Higher Education Academy Benchmarking programme:
Polytechnics in Wales
Colleges in Wales
Post-16 education in Wales is overseen by ELWA.
The JISC Regional Support Centre in Wales - RSC Wales - is active in supporting e-learning including in the ACL area (called PCDL in England) - and more specifically, to:
In 2005 ELWA commissioned a report from the Wales Council for Voluntary Action on Barriers to growth in the use of learning technology in the voluntary sector - of which an Executive Summary is public.
Administration and finance
Quality assurance, inspection and accreditation
ICT in education initiatives
Virtual initiatives in schools
Founded in September 2005, InterHigh School offers a complete secondary school education on the internet. Lessons are delivered by teachers and the pupils logging into virtual classrooms.
There are currently 250 pupils in the school between the ages of 10 to 19, about equal numbers of boys and girls. Classes are kept to a maximum of 18 pupils. There are a total of 7 year groups, currently across 15 "classrooms".
Its web site is http://www.interhigh.net
See also The InterHigh Story and the case study soon to be released.
First College takes an independent college approach to studying, an excellent preparation for later qualifications, University, or (self) employment. This virtual school is in fact an online high school - not a college.
It is very much a family business - the founders oiriginally created it to educate their own child, who is now also an online teacher at the school. It is physically based in Newport, Wales.
Its web site is http://www.firstcollege.co.uk
Virtual initiatives in post-secondary education
Virtual campuses in universities
The University of Glamorgan is the only university in Wales with a fully-fledged virtual campus.
Virtual campuses in colleges
Coleg Sir Gâr Virtual College
Coleg Sir Gâr (in English, Carmarthenshire College) is one of the largest Further Education Colleges in Wales. It is an Accredited College of the University of Glamorgan and also has partnerships with other Welsh universities.
Its course offering includes over 79 courses - from Higher National Certificates and Diplomas to Foundation and Honours Degrees as well as postgraduate and professional qualifications. Subject areas include Engineering and Construction, Art and Design, Computing, Business and Management, Education, Health and Social Care, Land-based studies and Sport.
Coleg Sir Gâr also runs the Virtual College, one of the UK's most successful award winning online education providers. This offers a range of accredited courses including ECDL, EdExcel BTEC Awards, and Sage accountancy, as well as a selection of short courses which can all be studied from anywhere in the world.
All short courses can be accessed from home or place of work as there is no need to complete assessments under exam conditions. All "etutors" are experienced lecturers with a range of teaching qualifications.
The courses are aimed at a range of audiences including business, teaching, leisure and even those who wish to study for fun. Courses cover a range of software packages including Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Access and Project), Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop and Flash) and Web Page Design using the popular Word Press platform. The courses for teachers include Facebook for Teaching and Learning, Interactive Whiteboards and Moodle 2.2.
Short courses are accredited by Agored Cymru (OCN Wales) and are suitable for those who wish to develop their IT skills in small byte size chunks of 10 hours. The EdExcel BTEC awards cover subject areas in far more detail than our short courses and typically contain 40-150 hours of online learning. These qualifications are ideal for those who wish to focus on depth on one or two packages. The ECDL courses offer a broad range of skills and are ideal for those who wish to enhance their CV.