Summer of big winners

It was a summer of love for Big Brother runner-up and wannabe teacher Glyn Wise. But it was one of huge relief for Jane Davidson, Wales's minister for education, lifelong learning and skills.

Smooth Welsh-speaker Glyn, 18, won the hearts and minds of the Welsh educational establishment, despite getting drunk, streaking and vomiting on the much berated TV show.

On a more serious matter of national importance, the Welsh baccalaureate, Ms Davidson's baby, was given the thumbs-up by an evaluation team from Nottingham university.

The minister said she was "breathing a sigh of relief" after the pilot qualification was welcomed by Nottingham academics. She admitted plans to roll-out the diploma would have been scrapped if the pilot had been deemed a failure.

In her gusto she announced that calls for the vocationally-led qualification to be graded would probably be met. However, evaluators also report cynics in the profession who would rather stick with traditional A-levels.

Their fears that the work-heavy bac will not be accepted at English universities is also held by parents and some students. Dr Heledd Hayes, from the National Union of Teachers, called for a huge marketing exercise to allay fears dividing schools and colleges.

Another summer of improved exam results at both A-level and GCSE led Wales's leading examiner to defend the honour of young candidates in the face of harsh criticism from business leaders.

Derec Stockley, from the WJEC, the Welsh exam board, was responding to a report by the CBI which dubbed today's school-leavers the "grunting generation". He argued that technologically challenged employers could be shown a thing or two by computer-literate young people entering the job market.

Peter Clarke, the Children's Commissioner for Wales, also jumped to the defence of the nation's young in his annual report. His office reported dealing with a series of complaints about education services, including badly-handled bullying cases and a lack of respect from teachers.

Mr Clarke said that too many teachers and frontline children's services were failing to listen to their young customers. And he reminded employees that services exist to serve children - not for their "comfort and convenience".

Elsewhere, a TES survey revealed more than a third of children left primary school this year without learning basic swimming skills that could save their lives. Children in Wales are getting the most time in the pool, but schools warn that pool closures, curriculum demands and a lack of cash are having an impact.

One teacher who planned to stick with the day job despite a wealth of resources was Nick Lang, a 32-year-old newly-qualified maths teacher from Llantarnam comprehensive, Cwmbran.

He was celebrating this summer after his wife Sarah became the first pound;1 million winner of ITV quiz show PokerFace.

Nick said that fast cars, champagne and a lavish lifestyle were off his list of must-haves. Instead, he said he would be content with a new bike and a leak-free conservatory. That is obviously why he joined the worthy profession.

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