Archive for the ‘News’ Category

We are working from home

March 26th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

Pontydysgu staff are working from home during the Convid 19 crisis. In actuality we have been working from home for many years, initially using skype for meetings and more lately Zoom. We are trying to take as much of our research and project work online as well. Meantime then European Commission has pushed back the deadline for submitting Erasmus Plus project until near the end of April. If you have any projects you think Pontydysgu might be interested in as a partner, please just email or skype us.

The UK and Erasmus+

January 15th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

I’ve had a lot of questions about the future of the Erasmus Plus programe in the UK. This follows the defeat of an amendment to the government Brexit Bill binding the UK to remain in the Erasmus Plus programme. I am sorry the amendment failed. But not all may be as it seems at first glance. essentially the Conservatives voted against the move as they did not want the governments hands to be tied in negotiations with the EU. I’m not in the habit of quoting UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But yesterday he said: “There is no threat to the Erasmus scheme. We will continue to participate. UK students will continue to be able to enjoy the benefits of exchanges with our European friends and partners, just as they will continue to be able to come to this country.”

Lets hope he is telling the truth. Anyway Pontydysgu is continuing our partnership with organisations throughout Europe and will be happy to discuss any project proposals.

Brexit and Erasmus Plus

October 24th, 2019 by Graham Attwell

I guess it is no secret that Pontydysgu staff are not great fans of Brexit. Given that much of our work is undertaken in partnership with organisations from across Europe, Brexit is a threat to our future. That is one reason we have set up Pontydysgu SL, a Spanish registered SME.

Anyway – to get to the point – people have been asking what will happen to Erasmus Plus projects in the event that the UK leaves the EU -with or without a deal. This is the latest UK government position:

Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK would continue to take part in current EU programmes, including Erasmus+, for the duration of the transition period. Any participation beyond this would be a matter for upcoming negotiations on our future relationship with the EU. While the regulations for future EU programmes are still in the process of being developed, the Political Declaration envisages the possibility of UK participation in EU programmes like Erasmus+ and the negotiation of general terms of participation.

In the event that the UK leaves the EU with no agreement in place, the Government’s guarantee will cover the payment of awards to UK applicants for all successful Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps bids submitted before the end of 2020. This means UK Erasmus+ students already abroad will be able to complete their study placements.

It is far from ideal but better than nothing.

 

 

Pontydysgu SL

March 7th, 2018 by Graham Attwell

Regular readers may know Pontydysgu have been involved in different European projects around the use of technology in education, the training of teachers and trainers and careers advice and counselling (amongst others) since 2000, working with partners from virtually every EU member state.

Obviously the decision of the UK to leave the European Union has a major impact on our work. Although we have had offices and employees working in Germany and Wales since the company was founded (and more recently in Spain), Pontydysgu is registered as a UK company. Therefore, we have set up a new company – Pontydysgu SL, registered in Spain.

We will continue to maintain the UK based company. However if you would be interested in working with us on European projects through our Spanish company we will be very happy to talk with you. Pontydysgu SL will build on the outputs and work of the UK company and the expertise of staff from Pontydysgu Ltd. will transfer to the new Spanish company. We are now working on establishing a Spanish web site and in making the outputs of our work available through this site. Over time we will be relaunching this web site as Pontydysgu.eu to reflect our new direction.

If you are interested in being a partner with Pontydysgu.es please contact graham [at] mac [dot] com

The threat to research

June 14th, 2017 by Graham Attwell

I just realsied I had not updated the editorial since July last year. Then I wrote a hasty and angry editorial about the threat that Brexit posed to Pontydysgu and to the wider educational community. Since then a lot has happened!

For companies like Pontydysgu, along with other small enterprises working in research, we have the flexibility to move offices to more sunny climes within the European Union. But friends in universities in the UK tell me teh situation is seen as increasingly dire as lack of access to European project funding threatens to compound reduced resources and higher work pressures brought about by UK Higher Education policy and enthusiastically adopted by senior managers. Perhaps things look a little more hopeful after last weeks rejection of austerity by UK electors. But Brexit is not only a monetary threat to research in the UK: as important is isolation from the international and cross disciplinary research networks built up by researchers in universities throughout Europe.

We are not going away

July 4th, 2016 by Graham Attwell

I just checked the company documents. Pontydysgu was set up on 3 February 1999. In that time our work has moved from Vocational Education and Training to embrace the use of technology for teaching and learning, working around careers, knowledge development and sharing in organisations and much more. And whilst our core staff remains largely unchanged we have employed interns from all over Europe and wider afield, including Wales (of course), Romania, India, Greece and Portugal as well as the UK. We have worked with training organisations, libraries, universities, schools, NGOs and enterprises from across the European Union, we employ staff in Germany and Spain.

Brexit poses an existential threat to the future of our organisation. It is not just that the EU is a major funder of many of the projects and contracts that we working on. It threatens our whole pattern of collaborative research and development and our ability to develop the long lasting partnerships with individuals and organisations from all over Europe on which our work rests.

But we are not going away. Of course we, like many other UK based organisations, are exploring the option of setting up a company based in an EU country (or countries). In the meantime, with so much political uncertainly we will continue to work on our current projects and to seek new partnerships. And we would like to thank the many friends who have contacted us expressing their regret at the outcome of the referendum and their solidarity and determination and commitment to work with us in the future.

Inequality growing in access to UK universities

January 11th, 2016 by Graham Attwell

According to Times Higher Education: “The gap between university entry rates for the most advantaged and disadvantaged students is wider than previously thought, and progress in closing it has halted.” They report that “Research by Ucas indicates that the most privileged school leavers may be three times more likely to enter higher education than the least privileged.” This is far higher than previous analysis has suggested. Using a measure based on local socio economic data, gender, ethnicity and eligibility for free school meals, the study found that only 14 per cent of the least advantaged group entered higher education in 2015, compared with the 18 per cent figure 45.3 per cent of the most advantaged groups.

These findings are hardly surprising. Amongst all the different measures of predictive achievement, social class remains the most compelling. And with inequality in income and standard of living growing rapidly in the UK, it is hardly surprising that inequality in access to higher education is also growing. It  may also be considered that £9000 annual tuition fees may also be a disincentive to the ‘least advantaged’, even when the carrot of the so called graduate premium is dangled before them

Research has to be funded

September 24th, 2015 by Graham Attwell

The latest edition of Times Higher Education reports how universities in the UK are turning down research funding from medical charities because of a lack of government financial support. Although the grant covers research costs it does not cover overheads. But it is not just UK universities or medical research in which this is happening. Travelling around various conferences this summer, a persistent talking point was the shortage of funding. In education and training and technology enhanced learning, one result is that few people are any longer employed on permanent contracts and many are getting by on part time contracts. One of the knock on effects of this is that more and more time is being spent chasing grant money from national or EU programmes. But noone s being paid to write bids, so this time consuming and often frustrating work is being done in researchers own time. And of course with more and more organisations chasing a reduced pool of funding the competition is increasingly fierce. Ten years ago most universities did not even apply for Lifelong Learning programme grants because this was not considered to be research. Now such is demand for its successor programme, Erasmus Plus, that the threshold for success seems to be to achieve 90 per cent or higher in the evaluation.

Yet at the same time, government policies harp on about the importance of research to innovation. But without proper funding it will become increasingly difficult to attract researchers, let alone undertake good research

Wales National Digital Learning Event 2015

July 15th, 2015 by Angela Rees
Jen and I went along to the National Digital Learning Event and Awards in Cardiff earlier in June. We handed out Taccle books and went to some workshops. There were a few to choose from but I attended a technocamps session which explored some ways of teaching computer science using lego bricks, (build a simple lego structure, now explain to your partner how to build an identical structure without them seeing what you have built) using people, (direct your person around the room using simple commands) and using Cargo Bot. I like what technocamps do, kit like Lego Mindstorms is pretty expensive, so they take the kit around to secondary schools and colleges across Wales for one day workshops. For lots of ideas about how to teach computing, coding and programming for the rest of the year you could check out the Taccle2 blog and the Babitech page. In the afternoon I had fun playing with Sonic Pi , which uses code for composing and performing music, you can see me in the video below (just after the 2 minute mark) getting flustered because there was a mistake in my loop. Don't let that put you off, it was really good fun and a great way to get instant and useful results form your code. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRq1W7ffdDE?rel=0] The best thing about the day was seeing the great things being done across Wales with Ponty locals Big Click scooping the Commercial Digital Project Award [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRVhWD9sjkY?rel=0] You can see all of the other inspirational kids and teachers getting their tech on at the Hwb website with projects like e-safety, coding with minecraft, creating an interactive local map and staging a robot wars competition. Keep an eye out for next years entries, Welsh kids are good with technology, the competition should be tough!

High levels of Radio Activity

July 17th, 2014 by Angela Rees

The RadioActive team are in Tallinn this week for PLE 2014, we are running a workshop and will be broadcasting a short live show.

Meanwhile in the UK the young people at Dragon Hall youth organisation  have been busy preparing  the second part of the fascinating feature ‘Tracks of my Years’ that documents the journey through life of a musician and producer, David ‘Zorro’ Caplin, who gives us a personal perspective on issues such as homelessness and drug addiction. This use of ‘music as storytelling’ is the vehicle for an honest, emotional and typically cautionary tale that exposes the human reality of issues that are often treated trivially or questionably glamorised within the music industry. We think you’ll agree ‘it’s been emotional’.

 

The Music is The Message – Part 4
Live show 7PM UK time Thursday 17th July 2014
radioactive101.org
Contact us on info [at] radioactive101 [dot] org [dot] uk
Connect with us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RadioActive101
Follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/RadioActive101

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    News Bites

    Graduate Jobs

    As reported by WONKHE, a survey of 1,200 final year students conducted by Prospects in the UK found that 29 per cent have lost their jobs, and 26 per cent have lost internships, while 28 per cent have had their graduate job offer deferred or rescinded. 47 per cent of finalists are considering postgraduate study, and 29 per cent are considering making a career change. Not surprisingly, the majority feel negative about their future careers, with 83 per cent reporting a loss of motivation and 82 per cent saying they feel disconnected from employers


    Post-Covid ed-tech strategy

    The UK Ufi VocTech Trust are supporting the Association of Colleges to ensure colleges are supported to collectively overcome challenges to delivering online provision at scale. Over the course of the next few months, AoC will carry out research into colleges’ current capacity to enable high quality distance learning. Findings from the research will be used to create a post-Covid ed-tech strategy for the college sector.

    With colleges closed for most face-to-face delivery and almost 100% of provision now being delivered online, the Ufi says, learners will require online content and services that are sustainable, collective and accessible. To ensure no one is disadvantaged or left behind due to the crisis, this important work will contribute to supporting businesses to transform and upskilling and reskilling those out of work or furloughed.


    Erasmus+

    The European Commission has published an annual report of the Erasmus+ programme in 2018. During that time the programme funded more than 23,500 projects and supported the mobility of over 850,00 students, of which 28,247 were involved in UK higher education projects, though only one third of these were UK students studying abroad while the remainder were EU students studying in the UK. The UK also sent 3,439 HE staff to teach or train abroad and received 4,970 staff from elsewhere in the EU.


    Skills Gaps

    A new report by the Learning and Work Institute for the Local Government Association (LGA) finds that by 2030 there could be a deficit of 2.5 million highly-skilled workers. The report, Local Skills Deficits and Spare Capacity, models potential skills gaps in eight English localities, and forecasts an oversupply of low- and intermediate -skilled workers by 2030. The LGA is calling on the government to devolve the various national skills, retraining and employment schemes to local areas. (via WONKHE)


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