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Secondary schools could close in big education shake up

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School changes: Taskers site could become a new Welsh Medium School

School changes: Taskers site could become a new Welsh Medium School

  • – Five schools could close and be replaced with three new ones, says report

  • – Public meeting and protest planned

THE COUNTY COUNCIL’s plans for the future of education in north and mid-Pembrokeshire will come under the spotlight at an Extraordinary Meeting of the County Council scheduled for Thursday January 29.

If passed by members, the far-reaching plans would see English-medium secondary provision centred at Haverfordwest’s Sir Thomas Picton School’s campus, with significant redevelopment of the site over several years. The report being considered notes: “The merging of the two existing schools on the STP site may result in some disruption during construction phase. However, all reasonable steps will be taken to minimise such disruption.”

The council’s preferred options are set out in Appendix 5 of a 62-page paper prepared by the Council’s Director of Education.

Following on from the Cabinet’s adoption of a Welsh language strategy on January 5, the plan unveils and ambitious scheme to extend the council’s Welsh-medium education provision by the construction of a 3-16 school at the site of Taker Milward in Haverfordwest. The report says that: ‘Provision is feasible on the Tasker Milward site if an English medium school is established on the Sir Thomas Picton site’.

The report states that 3-16 education is becoming more common across Wales, although the authority anticipates resistance to the idea in Haverfordwest, not least from the parents at Ysgol Gymraeg Glan Cleddau.

The construction of a new Welsh medium school accessible to the wider county means that almost all parents who wish their children to be taught through the medium of Welsh will be within a 45 minute journey of such a facility.

As revealed in this paper in November 2013, the plans mean that Pembrokeshire College will take on additional responsibilities in relation to vocational and post-16 education.

The bitterest blow has fallen on Saint Davids, with the school there scheduled for closure while its functions amalgamate in part with Fishguard and in part – for Welsh medium pupils – with a new Welsh education school in Haverfordwest. The report acknowledges fears that the loss of Ysgol Dewi Sant might accelerate the process of turning the city into a place only attractive to older people and not to young families with children.

Ysgol Bro Gwaun, Fishguard, has come well out of the exercise with the Council noting that its site is:  ‘Appropriate for either a refurbishment of existing facilities or a new build’.

The key recommendations are:

Discontinue Sir Thomas Picton School and Tasker Milward VC School and establish a new 11-16 English medium secondary school with additional ALN provision for pupils with complex learning needs on the site of the current Sir Thomas Picton School. Post 16 provision to be provided in a new integrated sixth form centre as part of a formal collaboration between the County Council and Pembrokeshire College, subject to formal governance arrangements being agreed.

Discontinue Ysgol Bro Gwaun and Ysgol Dewi Sant Schools and establish a new 11-16 English medium (with significant use of Welsh ) secondary school with additional ALN provision for pupils with complex learning needs on the site of the current Ysgol Bro Gwaun School. Post 16 provision to be provided in a new integrated sixth form centre as part of a formal collaboration between the County Council and Pembrokeshire College, subject to formal governance arrangements being agreed.

Discontinue Ysgol Gymraeg Glan Cleddau and establish a new 3-16 Welsh medium / bilingual school on the site of the current Tasker Milward VC School. Post 16 provision to be provided at Ysgol y Preseli.

In response to education review proposals Bethan Williams, field officer for Cymdeithas yr Iaith in Dyfed told The Herald: “While it is encouraging that the council will increase Welsh provision by opening a 3-16 school in Haverfordwest we want to know what will be the capacity of the school – will it be big enough from the beginning? There is also the question why there is no provision for the sixth form as part of the recommendations. Why would pupils who have received their whole primary and secondary education in the Haverfordwest area then choose to go all the way to Ysgol y Preseli instead of Pembrokeshire College?”

Ms Williams said: “We also encourage members to reject the euphemism that a new school will be established through amalgamating Ysgol Dewi Sant and Ysgol Bro Gwaun. In all but legal terms it is simply the closure of Ysgol Dewi Sant which will be a severe blow for the local economy. Why not create instead a new two-site school, and use the opportunity to change the language category to create a 2A school which would ensure that all pupils received a significant proportion of teir education through the medium of Welsh? ”

She added: “We urge councillors not to miss out on the opportunity to improve provision in Tenby, where a Welsh primary school will be opened next year and Pembroke Dock where the Welsh unit is full. Welsh secondary provision in Haverfordwest will make very little difference in these areas.”

The decision made by councillors next week will affect education across the county for years to come and it is essential that Welsh education becomes easily available in all parts of the county.”

Public meeting and protest planned

Following the announcement on educational changes by Pembrokeshire County Council, a public meeting has been called for 5pm on Monday, January 26 at City Hall, St Davids, to be chaired by local County Councillor, David Lloyd.

David Haynes, the headteacher of Ysgol Dewi Sant,  has sent a letter home with pupils on Friday (Jan 23) in an attempt to reassure parents that whatever decisions are made about the school, the staff and leadership will focus on their core purpose of providing the best possible education.

A public demonstration is  planned ahead of Thursday extraordinary meeting of full council. Protesters will gather outside County Hall from 8am. The council meeting starts at 9am.

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Appeal after woman sexually assaulted on cycle path near Haverfordwest

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POLICE officers in Haverfordwest are appealing for witnesses after a woman was sexually assaulted at approximately 4.30pm on Sunday (May 16).

The woman was walking along the cycle path between Haverfordwest and Tiers Cross when she was approached by a man who threatened and assaulted her, before walking away towards Haverfordwest town.

The male is described as a white male, between 5ft 4 and 5ft 11 tall , normal build with a welsh accent. He has short dark hair, a beard and a moustache, brown eyes, and wearing light blue jeans, navy/dark blue jersey with grey sleeves. Anyone who saw a man matching this description in the area between 3.30pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested and is currently in police custody.

The cycle path is currently closed while the investigation continues.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, who is leading the investigation, said “Incidents of this nature are extremely rare in the Dyfed-Powys area. The public may see an increased presence of police officers in the coming days as police investigate the incident. Anyone with concerns or information that could help our enquiries can speak to those officers or contact police. While a man was quickly arrested we would still like to speak to anyone who saw a man matching the above description in the area yesterday afternoon.”

Anyone with information which could help the investigation is asked to contact police. This can be done online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet endorses STEP Fusion application

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Cabinet have today endorsed proposals from Cllr Paul Miller (Cabinet Member for Economic Development) to further progress the nomination of a Pembrokeshire site to host a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) fusion power station in the county.

Working with the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the proposed site is adjacent to the existing energy facilities on the South Shore of the Haven waterway.

If approved, the facility will initially host research with the ultimate aim of developing this technology which could offer a virtually limitless source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic Development said: “I am pleased my Cabinet colleagues endorsed this important programme of work. The Haven Waterway has provided livelihoods, underpinned by fossil fuels, for thousands of Pembrokeshire families, mine included, for more than 50 years. It’s my job to help ensure the waterway continues to provide high skilled, engineering, science and technology jobs for the next generation of this county – and so linked to our focus on climate change (and in addition to our existing multi-million pound commitments to supporting wind, wave and tidal clean power generation) my team have been exploring whether we can also support the development of clean, green fusion technology.

“It’s very early days in the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s site selection process but we’ll provide regular updates as things progress.”

•       STEP is an ambitious programme to design and build a prototype fusion power plant;
•       It is a UKAEA programme, currently with £222m funding from the UK Government to produce a concept design by 2024: https://step.ukaea.uk/

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Re-opening of indoor hospitality and attractions at Milford Waterfront

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RESTAURANTS and indoor visitor attractions in Milford Waterfront are welcoming the return of indoor services from today.

The re-opening of indoor dining allows all restaurants at Milford Waterfront to seat customers indoors. As well as all restaurants on the Waterfront now being able to offer this service, the brand-new Foam Domes overlooking the Milford Haven Waterway are able to open, with bookings being taken from the 19th May.

Indoor visitor attractions are also allowed to re-open. This includes the Waterfront Gallery, which is open today and Phoenix Bowl & Pirate Pete’s Adventure Play which is making preparations to open from Wednesday 19th May. Also, Milford Museum, which has had a new rendered exterior finish, is preparing to open for the end of May.

Lucy Wonnacott, Marketing Manager for Milford Waterfront commented: “We are delighted to see the re-opening of indoor hospitality and visitor attractions here at Milford Waterfront. Each business has their own safety and social distancing measures in place and we kindly ask that you respect and adhere to these for your own safety, and that of others. We hope you enjoy your visit to Milford Waterfront and stay safe!”

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