The Senedd on 8 November hosted the 8th annual Wales Peace Schools conference, welcoming over 100 children and teachers from 10 schools across South Wales, alongside community youth group leaders, to explore the theme ‘From Classroom to Community’ over an action packed day of creative and participatory workshops, sharing learning and projects undertaken by schools from primary to further education levels. The event was financially supported by Academi Heddwch, and with staff support from Quaker Peace & Social Witness.
Participating ‘Peace Schools’ included Primaries Stebonheath (Llanelli), St Gwladys (Bargoed), Clytha (Newport), Alaw (RCT), West Park (Porthcawl), and secondaries Bryngwyn (Llanelli), Cwm Rhymni (Caerphilly), Cynffig and Pencoed Comps (Bridgend).
The action packed agenda included skill share workshops, a ‘marketplace’ showcasing schools’ projects, presentations from Young Peace Amabassadors and exchange students, an ‘art for peace’ session, futures thinking exercises, as well as a number of keynote speakers.
Senedd Members (MS’) themselves contributed to the event over the day, opened by Cross Party Group for Peace Chair Mabon ap Gwynfor, and with Education Minister Jeremy Miles giving the keynote address over lunch – also taking the time to chat to young peace ambassadors about their work, and what they would like to see from Welsh Government.
Many pupils took the opportunity to do a tour of the Senedd, to watch the Welsh Assmbly ‘in action’ from the viewing gallery, and to find out howe they as young people can influence and feed in to the workings of government in Wales. Ogmore MS’s Huw Irranca Davies and Luke Fletcher had in-depth discussions with pupils from Pencoed Comprehensive around local to global issues, from climate change to the current conflict in Gaza, and explored how pupils might help uncover ‘peace heritage’ stories form the local Bridgend area as part of learning projects over the year ahead.
Alaw Primary School from Rhondda Cynon Taff were ‘surprised’ with a short video from an event just days before, the unveiling in Aberystwyth of a purple plaque to commemorate 1923 Peace Appeal leader Annie Hughes Griffiths, which previous Alaw Primary pupils had campaigned for following a curriculum project they did on ‘Annie’s Diary’. Alaw had invited Annie’s Granddaughter and children’s author Meg Elis into school to share her Mamgu’s story, and she was so moved by their commitment to peace building, drive to have a voice, and initiative to campaign for a memorial long before the ‘official campaign’ garnered publicity, that she want to extend a heartfelt ‘thankyou’ to Alaw – and to see the results of their efforts!
Alaw’s project is a lovely example of the sort of ‘grassroots’, children and youth-led initiatives that Peace Schools across Wales have developed, and the ‘marketplace’ at the conference gave the opportunity to showcase examples of their work and share ideas for projects.
WCIA have produced 2 guidance documents for policy makers and teachers involved with grassroots delivery of the curriculum ‘from Classroom to Community’: a Peace Education Policy paper, and ‘Mapping Peace Education to the new Welsh Curriculum‘.
Further resources, short videos and clips from the Peace Schools conference will be available here over the next couple of weeks.