21 November 2023 



UCAC is extremely disappointed that Welsh Government has published its consultation on the school year without fully engaging in advance with the teaching unions.  The Union feels that Welsh Government did not pay sufficient attention to practical points nor to the pedagogical aspects of such changes, when drawing up its plans for a revised school year.  Significant changes to the school calendar require detailed planning, addressing the implications of those changes on all pupils, parents and staff.  By proposing to extend the summer term, Welsh pupils would still be in school during the week of the Royal Welsh Show.  The show is the pinnacle of the agricultural year for many families associated with the agricultural industry, an industry which plays such a vital role in Wales.   Removing a week from the current summer holidays would also have a detrimental effect on secondary school leaders and some secondary school teachers whose summer holidays are already curtailed as they deal with A level and GCSE results during the month of August.   The proposal to shorten the autumn term by a week will increase the pressure on teachers and pupils following examination courses, as they will have less time to fulfil the demands of the examination syllabus.  These changes to the school calendar are proposed for the academic year 2025-2026 and therefore will coincide with the introduction of the new GCCSEs.  Education in Wales has faced substantial changes and challenges during the last few years.  Pupils and school staff have had to contend with revolutionary reforms, such as the new curriculum, new ALN legislation, as well as all the challenges which came as the result of the pandemic.  The Union believes that the best way of supporting ‘learners’ and staff’s wellbeing’ is by ensuring a period of stability in our schools.  There is a very real danger that the current recruitment and retention challenge will be further intensified in face of so many radical changes. 



September 2023 

We were saddened to hear of the death of a former UCAC employee, Gareth Miles, who spent some time as the union's national organiser.   Paying tribute to him, Ioan Rhys Jones, the union's current General Secretary, said:

"Gareth Miles was a political campaigner and a language campaigner, a brilliant author and an astute commentator on various topics. He made an impression in many spheres of life. Amongst his colleagues at UCAC he was recognised as an exceptionally effective national organiser. He had a thorough knowledge and understanding of Wales, which was key, as UCAC’s influence grew during the early days of the national discussion on devolving education. After his time at UCAC he remained a firm voice within Wales TUC Cymru. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends."


July 2023

At the beginning of June, two UCAC representatives attended a DARPL, Diversity and Anti-Racist Professional Learning, Conference in Cardiff and shared the main messages of the Conference with members of UCAC’s Equality Committee, which convened before the end of the Summer Term.   The delegates of the DARPL conference were deeply affected by the harrowing experiences of racism endured by some of the speakers.  These experiences were shared within the context of the Welsh Government’s vision of an anti-racist Wales by 2030. 

The Conference speakers emphasised the importance of anti-racism, in order to combat racism.   Within the new Curriculum for Wales, the teaching of Black, Asian and minority ethnic history is statutory.  It is well worth remembering that there are resources which refer specifically to Wales and Welsh-medium resources.

It was noted that school leaders have an important role to play to foster and establish an anti-racist ethos.  Further guidance can be found in the following document:

Creating an Anti-Racist Culture in Schools - A Practical Guide for School Leaders in Wales - DARPL

The Welsh Government has also produced a list of race and ethnicity terms, which members of the Equality Committee felt was a valuable resource:



8 June 2023 


UCAC representatives attended a seminal conference organised by DARPL (Diversity and Anti-Racism Professional Learning) in Cardiff on 8 June.  It was very encouraging to see so many present at the conference and attendees were offered a full programme of enlightening presentations by notable speakers from Wales and beyond.  All speakers spoke with passion and conviction, many sharing their own personal experiences of racism.  They shared with the audience how these negative experiences had led to their subsequent determination to do their utmost to combat racism.  It was difficult and uncomfortable to listen to accounts of what the speakers and their families had experienced,  but their message was both timely and important and underlined the fundamental fact that we all have a part to play in order to fulfil the Welsh Government’s vision of an anti-racist Wales by 2030. 


5-6 May 2023


UCAC’s annual conference 2023 was held at the Coldra Court Hotel near Newport on 5-6 May 2023.  The conference provided an opportunity to discuss matters pertaining to education, in formal meetings as well as informally.

The proposals which came to the delegates’ attention were a reflection of the matters which are currently at the forefront of education in Wales - matters relating to working conditions, the Curriculum for Wales, the Welsh Education Bill.  These matters will undoubtedly be a topic of further discussion within the union during the forthcoming months.

Our speakers’ themes this year were the latest digital developments and the Curriculum for Wales.   Meredudd Jones spoke with enthusiasm of the work he has accomplished in the field of Information Technology and how he fostered pupils’ and staff’s confidence in digital matters during the pandemic and subsequently.  Alan Thomas-Williams spoke with the same passion about the Curriculum for Wales and shared his experience of working with a cluster of schools in the process of planning and delivering the Curriculum for Wales.  Following both presentations, delegates were given the opportunity to ask further questions.