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Swansea Council leader David Phillips on the importance of providing good education and training opportunities

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: May 15, 2014

Studenta are about to take the strain of exam time.

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HUNDREDS of teenagers across the city will this week be embarking on one of the key events of their lives so far — the start of the exam season.

Though the way exams are structured have changed hugely since I first sat down to take mine as a teenager many years ago, I doubt very much the experience of nerves, excitement and maybe a little fear about what the questions are has changed all that much.

Growing up in 1950s Liverpool my parents, my twin brother and I all believed that success in exams was the first big step in our young lives which would go a long way to influencing how our careers would turn out. So, no pressure there then!

As parents it was probably the first big test that they couldn't take for us.

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It was all down to us – a big growing-up experience as well as a learning one.

To everyone entering the exam room this season, I wish you the very best of luck.

As a council we make a huge investment to support children and young people to achieve their full potential in the classroom. We spend more on education than anything else and much of the money we receive from the Welsh Government goes directly to schools for the essentials like teachers and learning facilities.

But our determination to support young people to achieve their full potential doesn't stop with school or, in fact, start there.

As I've said before initiatives like Flying Start are designed to prepare families so very young children have the skills and enthusiasm to learn when they start school life.

The full impact of the success of those children involved in Flying Start today might not be reflected in GCSE exam results for a decade or so but I'm confident it will be.

And after the GCSE results are in, what then? Well, then it's about supporting young people to make the most of what they've achieved. For some (hopefully many) it will be a levels and university. For others it will be training or an apprenticeship scheme or even entry into the world of work.

The council is also involved in supporting the other young people after they've left school as well.

Our award-winning beyond bricks and mortar scheme is just one example where contracts we agree with developers and contractors benefit people who would otherwise be unemployed.

We were the first council in Wales to introduce this kind of scheme which means that the millions of pounds we invest in construction and improvement schemes every year have practical benefits for young people who perhaps haven't been able to get work, as well as the longer-term unemployed.

So far 130 people have had the chance to learn new skills in the construction trade which they probably wouldn't otherwise have had.

By putting people at the centre of our thinking when planning major developments the council has added value through developing new skills, reducing economic inactivity and preventing leakage from the local economy.

Our support and involvement in initiatives ranging from Flying Start and beyond bricks and mortar and Gower College Swansea's young entrepreneur programme contribute to our status as the UK's pilot Unesco city of learning.

We were chosen last year as the first city in the UK to collaborate with cities around the world in the Unesco initiative aimed at developing learning cities, which help all citizens get better access to learning opportunities. Other invited cities include Beijing, Cape Town, Helsinki, Sao Paulo, Ho Chi Minh City, Mexico City and cities in Japan, South Korea and North America.

For me part of our job at the council is to create opportunities so people have access to learning throughout their lives.

Education does more than shape the life chances of individuals like the hundreds of young people jumping into the exam season this month – it's also fundamental to building a just, inclusive and fairer society.

David Phillips

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  • godisalie  |  May 15 2014, 11:28PM

    Studenta are about to take the strain of exam time. Yes the importance of good education, can someone tell the South Wales Evening Post too?

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