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Top food and micro chips

Grant aims to boost cookery and computer skills. Glyn Bellis reports

Healthy dinners for British schoolchildren - or the lack of them - have been the cause cel bre of TV chef Jamie Oliver.

Now, thanks to another TV cook, a group of Anglesey sixth-formers should be able to impress with their culinary skills when they leave home for university. It is all part of a new education initiative funded by an Assembly government grant.

S4C chef Dudley Newbury has lent his support by showing the youngsters how to make tasty and nutritious food on a tight budget, in the refurbished food technology classrooms at Ysgol Gyfun, Llangefni.

But improving the cookery skills of children is just part of the initiative, which aims to strengthen ties between schools and communities across the island.

At the villages of Carreglefn and Rhosybol, near Amlwch, funding has been used to purchase wireless laptop computers for a "technology library".

Pupils are able to take them home to work with their parents.

Gwyn Pleming, headteacher of 42-pupil Carreglefn primary school, has bought 10 computers with a pound;12,000 grant. He says there are already encouraging signs of greater parental interest and involvement in education.

The school is in an economically deprived area with many homes lacking the latest computer technology and software. It is hoped that eventually the school will have a wireless hub for the benefit of children in the immediate area.

One of the aims is to encourage fathers in particular to spend more time with their children and show greater interest in their development, and IT seems to attract them.

Mr Pleming said: "It seems to be paying off. We hope to help past pupils as well. People live in the village who would benefit from it.

"I would prefer the computers to also be used by past pupils rather than sitting here doing nothing."

The technology library should help to improve IT skills and build partnerships between the school and local households. At Ysgol y Graig primary on the Pencraig estate at Llangefni, pound;6,000 has been awarded to create a series of short videos which promote better behaviour.

The work will be shown in school and the community. Glyn Roberts, head of the 307-pupil school, said the "fly on the wall" videos would document both positive and negative aspects of the locality. The project should also improve the skills of pupils as they film, and enhance ties with the community.

Mr Roberts said: "We have zero tolerance with discipline and no difficulties here. But there are problems on the estate at night. It's a way of trying to influence what goes on."

The three-year grant from the Assembly government has also benefited parents of children from north Anglesey, who have attended courses about the environment, health, arts and Welsh language.

And the public will be able to enjoy the community sports facilities at the Ysgol David Hughes campus at Menai Bridge.

Anglesey councillor John Meirion Davies, responsible for education and lifelong learning, said: "Schools are an integral part of the local community. Developing them is vital to enrich the experiences of pupils as well as meet the needs of the wider community.

"This new project has enabled us to invest in activities which benefit pupils and communities across the island."

Opinion 21

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