In communities across the constituency and country last week, students ended their summer-long wait as GCSE results were finally announced. Across the UK as a whole, the figures show that the number of top grades has dipped slightly as exam boards largely return to pre-pandemic grading levels. Whilst, here in Wales, the Welsh Government has encouraged the approach of continuing to support students after the effects of the pandemic – much of this cohort’s schooling was disrupted by Covid too – and to gradually reintroduce the standard exam approach, in contrast to the UK Government which has moved back to full exams much quicker across the border.
This approach has meant that nearly 22% of Welsh students received an A* or A grade, compared with more than 25% last year, reflecting the change in exams, and nearly 65% received a C grade or above. I’d like to congratulate all students in Flintshire for their results and hard work – as I said in last week’s column, students might find the Welsh Government’s Working Wales website useful when thinking about the next steps – see www.workingwales.gov.wales/how-we-can-help/young-persons-guarantee.
On the subject of further education post GCSEs, last week the Welsh Government also announced increases to the cost-of-living support available for young people in education or training. Ministers have increased the Financial Contingency Fund (FCF) for vulnerable learners by 6.5% to help alleviate some of the issues with the cost-of-living crisis and the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) grant, designed to help further education students studying at sixth form or college in Wales with costs such as transport or meals, was increased from £30 a week to £40 earlier in the year. It’s also worth remembering that free school meals are available to those eligible in school sixth forms too and transport costs can also be covered, so whatever your young people are planning to study after GCSEs, there is help available.
There can be lots of costs involved when it comes to kitting out young people for their education, none more so than this time of year as a new school year dawns. The Welsh Government has a range of support available aimed at helping with school costs – to find out more about things like the School Essentials Grant go to www.gov.wales/get-help-school-costs
Closer to home, there are lots of wonderful individuals and organisations who are giving up time and resources to set up and assist with school uniform recycling initiatives. From the volunteer led Flintshire School Uniform Exchange on Facebook to a range of other Facebook pages and groups focused on specific communities such as Flint Pre-loved Uniform. This coming Saturday (2nd September) Cllr Teresa Carberry will be once again organising a Mold school uniform stall inside the Daniel Owen Centre from 10am until 2pm where all uniforms are free of charge. The current Mayor of Holywell, Linda Carter has also been behind something similar for communities in the Holywell area.
As always, if you would like advice and/or support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on any of the following contact details – 52 High Street, Mold, Flintshire, on 01352 753464 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also keep up to date via my Facebook page – www.facebook.com/HannahBlythynForDelyn. Constituents are, of course, welcome to contact my office to arrange an appointment to see me, you don’t need to wait until an advice surgery.