(Title Image: Cardiff University)
Here’s a round-up of this afternoon’s questions to the Education Minister.
Institutional racism at Cardiff University
Bethan Sayed AM (Plaid, South Wales West) raised the matter of serious allegations of racism made by Cardiff University students from minority ethnic backgrounds, where it’s said some were subject to abuse following a 2016 medical school revue show called Anaphylaxis (where students “blacked up” to play lecturers). The problem hasn’t been dealt with.
“….the trouble is that some students do not believe that, institutionally, Cardiff has been willing to content seriously enough with racism or respond with enough gravity to reports and recommended actions. They also believe there is a wider cultural problem, particularly in certain schools of the university.”
– Bethan Sayed AM
The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams AM (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor), was quite clear that there was no place for racism anywhere within the Welsh education system. Talks were ongoing with the student union and university, while she expected the university to deal with these allegations properly – possibly even reviewing the culture within individual departments or schools.
Careers advisors “going back into schools”
Shadow Skills Minister, Mohammad Asghar AM (Con, South Wales East), said good quality careers advice was essential to match students with jobs. However, the quality of careers advice has been questioned due to a shortage of trained careers advisors and subsequent lack of understanding about apprenticeships and vocational courses.
The Minister said careers advisors were going back into schools:
“What we’ve done….after a period in which we were not able to commission Careers Wales to be providing a service in schools, is we have those trained careers advisors back in our school settings, and more importantly we’re currently running a pilot in Rhondda Cynon Taf to explore best practice. The results of that pilot will help us develop an even better careers service for children and young people going forward.”
– Education Minister, Kirsty Williams
Active travel and schools
David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central) congratulated Ysgol Hamadryad in Cardiff, which has become a “pioneer” for active travel planning, having developed personalised active travel plans for pupils and parents and taking measures to make car journeys less convenient. Was this something all schools can learn from?
Vikki Howells AM (Lab, Cynon Valley) wanted to ensure children were involved in decision-making processes around active travel, while Rhianon Passmore AM (Lab, Islwyn) asked how the 21st Century Schools programme was being used to increase the number of children walking and cycling to and from school?
The Minister said the Hamadryad example proves how a simple change of mindset can make a big difference – though it’s easier as it’s a completely new school. All schools within the 21st Century Schools programme have to clearly demonstrate that they’ve provided for safe walking and cycling access.