Hundreds of Year 12 students from across Wales will be travelling to Cefn Lea next month to take part in an exciting day of educational workshops and interactive sessions, intended to help them on their next steps towards university.
But the Seren Conference, now in its fourth year, is not only an unmissable day for students: there is plenty on offer for teachers too. We are running a separate timetable with a choice of nine sessions, just for teaching professionals, all designed to provide relevant and useful information on how best to support more able and talented students.
Last year, 98% of teaching professionals rated the conference as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ and 88% reported they had benefitted professionally in terms of being able to support their most able students. 98% also said they were able to speak to representatives from leading universities, meaning they had up-to-the minute advice on how best to support their students in their application to university.
Here are six reasons why this year’s conference is a must-attend event the teaching calendar:
- Peer to peer learning: selected sessions will be hosted by teaching professionals who will share learnings and best practice on topics including how to support students’ mental health and wellbeing in school and college and how to meet the needs of students living and learning in rural communities.
- Meet representatives from universities: teachers will have the chance to speak to staff from the leading universities in Wales and the rest of the UK and ask them questions about the application and interview process.
- Be in the know about financial support offered to Welsh students: for the first time at the Seren conference there will be dedicated sessions around student finance as well as one on bursaries and scholarships offered by leading universities in Wales, UK and overseas.
- Find out how the new GCSEs prepare MAT learners for post-16 study: Qualifications Wales will run a dedicated, in-depth session on the new GCSEs, designed to help professionals working in the post-16 sector to identify areas that learners may need additional support in and what skills they can expect MAT learners to have developed through the new GCSE curriculum.
- Pick up free CPD points: the conference is free to attend and attending sessions counts towards your CPD, helping you to boost your career.
- A unique opportunity: the conference covers lots of ground in just one day. It’s a chance to take part in a busy, productive and inspiring day so prepare to leave armed with a range of strategies to take back to school or college.
Dr John Roe, director of Sixth Form at Radyr Comprehensive School in Cardiff has been to the conference for the past two years. He said: “There is such a fantastic range of opportunities available for both students and teachers.
“Teachers can choose from a menu of fantastic professional development opportunities including the sessions and workshops plus the chance to network with colleagues from across the educational sector in Wales and the UK.
“The mental health and wellbeing session is particularly relevant to me. Over the last few years, sixth form teams have been seeing an increasing number of students suffering from mental health issues. There’s no doubt that wellbeing needs to be at the heart of any sixth form provision.
“With so much curriculum change happening at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4, I think it is really useful for sixth form teams to be able to understand the implications for post-16 learners and how best to support them, so the Qualifications Wales session is also one I am interested in. This is an exciting opportunity to learn directly from Qualifications Wales.
“I would say to teachers who are going this year, look at the programme well in advance and discuss with colleagues who are also attending the conference from their school which sessions they are interested in going to. With so many great sessions, it’s important that you plan in advance to make sure that someone from the school is able to attend all the sessions you feel are most relevant to your school or college.”
Amy Jones, progress leader from Ysgol Calon Cymru, will be attending the Seren Conference for the first time this year. She said: “I am most looking forward to the session on ‘Supporting Seren learners in rural environments’ as our school is situated in Mid Wales where we are challenged by low population and long travel distances.
“Maintaining Welsh medium provision in our area is difficult and recruitment of specialist staff is also problematic. Minimising the impact on student learning and achievement is crucial. I am hoping to take away some strategies to make sure that our students are not disadvantaged by their location.
“I am planning to speak to the universities. I also hope to raise the profile of Welsh Baccalaureate as it seems that more and more institutions are realising its value and including it in their offer. I spoke to a medical school just last week who are going to include it in their offer next year – they just hadn’t realised how valuable a qualification it is!
“Before going to the conference I will be making sure the students are aware of the programme so that they can maximise their Seren experience. I want them to consider what they want to find out and which seminars will benefit the most.”
If you haven’t already, please download the timetable here.
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