Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

Miller’s plans derailed

Published

on

Speaking to press before the meeting: Cllr Paul Miller

Speaking to press before the meeting: Cllr Paul Miller

AN ATTEMPT by Cllr Paul Miller, the Labour Leader on Pembrokeshire County Council, to ‘recall’ the proposed education changes in Pembrokeshire has failed. At an extra-ordinary meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council at County Hall on Tuesday (Apr 14), councillors voted 29 to 22 against the recall of the plans. This now means that the consultation process currently underway will continue.

Miller secured the signatures of fifteen councillors to ‘request a recall’ of the proposed education changes, which are to close five sixth forms on Pembrokeshire and replace them with sixth form provision at Pembrokeshire College has been met with stiff opposition by students, teachers, and the public at large. The Council’s plans were set in motion long in advance of the consultation. The Herald showed last week that both the council and the College were in talks since 2013. Cllr Miller, along with Stephen Crabb and Paul Davies AM have all called for post 16 education to be kept on school sites in north Pembrokeshire.

HUNDREDS PROTEST AT COUNTY HALL A protest of hundreds of pupils, parents and staff took place at the council offices before the meeting. A councillor took a petition into chambers signed by over 600 pupils from Sir Thomas Picton, who are angry that their school might lose its sixth form if the proposed plans go ahead. LEAKED DOCUMENTS Some of the protestors were handing out print-outs from The Herald’s website to the councillors and students.

The Herald uploaded the story, written following a leak of documents from a secret source, to it’s website at 10pm on Monday night. The late night news report revealed that the minutes of the council’s Corporate Management Team threw new light on the Authority’s plans. The story explained that the Corporate Management Team considered the engagement of the Full Council in the schools reform matter as “a risk”, which suggests its members were rather depending on not too many probing questions being asked. Had they been asked, the minutes reveal that the Council has embarked upon a deeply divisive consultation – which even those behind it concede is now out of date – without waiting to establish the Welsh Government’s position in respect of the type of projects proposed in the consultation document.

The fact that the Council has been working hand in glove on the provision of the 21CS programme with a member of the College’s own staff seconded to assist; with the College as a key partner; and with all indications being that the public are being presented with Hobson’s choice on the future of secondary education, the open consultation that the public have been assured would take place appears to be – as this newspaper reported in last week’s edition – nothing more than a fix. IN THE COUNCIL CHAMBER The atmosphere was tense at in the council chamber.

One of the first to speak was Cllr Pat Davies who said that there had to be a cohesive sixth form policy, county-wide. She was also loud in her criticism of the idea of a centre for excellence in the south of the county that she suggested may not be accessible by those in the north. She also expressed a worry that pupils moving from their school of five years to a tertiary site would miss out on communal extra-curricular activities that only a school could offer. She called for a clearer vision by the council than the one on offer. Cllr Tony Wilcox also opposed the current path and said more consultation was desperately required and any decisions should certainly not be rushed and he was joined in his calls for a re-think by Cllr Viv Stoddart who stated that as far as she knew no input had come from ‘the people who matter’, the sixth form pupils themselves. She stated a firm belief that this was a fundamental flaw in the Council’s thinking, and they had to consider children’s rights.

Cllr Tessa Hodgson, went even further, stating that she believed the consultation should have started two years earlier. ‘HELD TO RANSOM’ Also speaking at the meeting, Cllr Jonathan Nutting said that Pembrokeshire County Council had “shot itself in the foot” and that the re-organisation had ‘descended into farce’ with no merit whatsoever given to children, parents and teachers. This was, he said, the ‘biggest decision we will make as county councillors’ and he went further by saying the leader was using a process of ‘moral blackmail’ and that it was ‘divisive’ and being ‘railroaded’ through. The council, he said, were ‘being held to ransom’ by the college and that the whole policy looked like it was constructed on the ‘back of a fag packet’. He claimed it was time to ‘bin the shambolic plan’. A ‘HALF-COCKED’ PLAN Cllr Thomas Tudor, who was told he was unable to vote, said it was “imperative we listen to the needs of people and their concerns”, pointing to evidence that sixth forms improve results at GCSE and A level grades and implored the Council to think about the devastating impact such a move would have on the wider school community and its success as an academic centre. He was also keen to point out how important the sixth formers themselves are to a school as a valuable human resource.

Cllr. Mike Edwards accused the supporters of the consultation, in particular Jamie Adam’s IPPG, of using a strategy of “divide and conquer to drive through a half-cock plan”. Cllr Edwards said the council was using “divisive politics.” Cllr Evans said: “The condition of education [in Pembrokeshire] is another legacy of Bryn. This is the chaos that exists in this plan and in our education department, and Jamie [Adams], you are responsible for this chaos as it stands.” HERALD BROKE THE NEWS Cllr. Jacob Williams cited The Herald’s revelations last week that the Council had been talking with Pembrokeshire College about post- 16 education a long time before the consultation began, saying he believed that was prejudiced and ‘putting things at risk’ and Cllr David Howlett, the leader of the Conservative group accused council leader, Cllr Jamie Adams, of having tied the arms behind the councillor’s backs and that any decision would have ramifications for generations to come.

Cllr Stan Hudson, another Conservative supporting Labour leader Paul Miller’s motion thanked The Herald for having brought to his attention the collusion between the council and the college. Cllr Peter Stock referred to the many criticisms by the county’s leading professionals of the current option on the table and stated: “can all these people who object be wrong? I don’t think so – many are professionals” and referring to apparent collusion between PCC and the College, he said: “It strikes me as pre-empting a decision of the consultation”. Those opposed to Paul Miller’s motion were equally as passionate in their arguments, as the issue clearly divided the chamber. Cllr Sue Perkins went on the offensive. She criticised the county’s schools performances, deriding them for not having achieved an Estyn level of good or outstanding. She believed the option that is preferred

would “present a sound strategy to improve standards – county wide”. She also said the council must make “tough decisions”, and to have “no green category schools, a measure of a successful school according to Estyn, just wasn’t good enough”. She claimed that there was no choice but for change. Perkins implored council to allow the consultation to continue, and was adamant that all parties were being consulted, including the pupils in the county. PERKINS ON THE DEFENSIVE Cllr Perkins added: “Our young people deserve better. Our young people lack choice, yes they have the choice over where to study but not the choice of courses. There seems to be an obsession of comparing schools with Pembrokeshire College – but this is irrelevant.

The proposal is for a NEW sixth form centre. It will be a new entity and will not result in A Level courses being run by Pembrokeshire College.” Cllr Perkins batted away criticism by saying that the council was “absolutely consulting with everyone” and to say that the council wasn’t is “unfair”. BINNING CONSULTATION ‘RECKLESS’ Cllr David Lloyd rubbished the idea that the process had not been thorough. He claimed that to bin the consultation now would be “reckless”. The member for St. David’s said: “The council should stay around the table and not go back eighteen months”. Cllr Mike John agreed, saying the council should see the consultation out. Brian Hall, also opposed the motion in fear that it may adversely affect any future funding for education.

Joining him in protest at the radical motion was Keith Lewis who also believed the consultation was working and to stop the process would throw the whole situation into chaos. Another member, Cllr Pearl Llewellyn, took a more Pembrokecentred view, saying she could not put Pembroke’s new school, as proposed in the consultation’s preferred option, in jeopardy, and wouldn’t support the motion. Jamie Adams, IPPG and Council Leader, who is keen to get through the preferred option and move post 16 education to Pembrokeshire College, as per discussions the council have already had with the tertiary site, commented on the many points raised from the debate. He started by saying there was an inference that the consultation was not honest or deep enough, which he denied point blank.

To say ‘his’ council weren’t listening, he said, was a fallacy, saying that for a 2nd option to the one preferred from the consultation was for the public to tell him and the council. Adamant he and his group were right in their pursuit of their preferred plan, Adams said: “Convince me the preferred option is not the right one. I need evidence. This is not a referendum. We are deciding on the best outcome for the children of this county. Consultation will allow this and provide every opportunity. This is a jigsaw and members must understand that.

21st century funding will be available to facilitate the outcome; stop the consultation and funding is at risk”. He finished by saying he wanted ‘a guarantee not a gamble’. Before putting the motion to the vote, summing up Cllr Paul Miller said that the 21st century schools programme presented a fantastic opportunity, but said the county may miss that opportunity if the current set of proposals, dominated he said by Bush school, lead to the wrong outcomes. He said: “We need a more grown up debate. We cannot just make a decision today.

Just because we have come so far it doesn’t mean we can’t change our approach. We are making a model in this county on the fly, not the right way, we are making it up as we go along. It’s not right for communities. A loud majority sixth form education. This (the preferred option) is the wrong solution for Pembrokeshire and the community. We need to get this right for the future of our county. If we get it wrong, we could leave a 50 year legacy of inadequate provision.” THE VOTE IS LOST The motion was narrowly defeated by 29 votes to 22, with an abstention from Cllr Pearl Llewellyn.

The Herald spoke with Paul Miller directly after the meeting, who said in response to the result and defeat of his motion: “I am very disappointed. The Council had the opportunity to look again at these proposals, and we understood from the debate today that they have been framed by previous decisions. Particularly around Bush school campus, that are now dictating the educational reorganisation and £100million capital programme for this authority, and they shouldn’t be. This should all be about getting the right educational outcomes for our children, getting the right model for delivering education across Pembrokeshire and we (The council) are just not getting that.

I am bitterly disappointed that councillors rejected our proposal that would have allowed them back to the drawing board”. The Herald asked if Mr Miller was heartened by Cllr Jamie Adams’ assertion that the consultation period might offer another option, to which he responded: “Well I hope it does, but the reality is if they are going to significantly change from the single option they are putting forward as part of the consultation, they are going to have to run another statutory consultation process, and I think there will be all sorts of pressure on them not to do that. Also, they are not being honest with people about the actual effects this will have across Pembrokeshire.

This is a county wide strategy they are engaged upon, it will, whatever they decide on here today, impact on Milford and Greenhill’s 6th form sustainability.” However, Cllr Owen James who opposed the motion told The Herald: “I think the consultation process is perfectly adequate as it is and we don’t need to mess around with it. We have had some full and interesting responses. We need to go through those and act accordingly.” Cllr James was also prepared to comment on the pre-consultation collusion between the Council and Pembrokeshire College, saying: “I think we do need partnerships, and they do need to be strong ones, and I don’t think that is a disadvantage in any way.”

I AM PRO-CHOICE Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies joined the hundreds of protestors outside County Hall ahead of the full Council meeting, saying: “I sincerely hope that Councillors think very carefully about the future of our sixth forms across Pembrokeshire. Pe m b ro k e s h i re County Council must find a way to deliver education services locally that also meets the needs of communities’ right across the County. Mr Davies AM added: “I strongly believe in young people having choice in the education system, and the current proposals to remove sixth form education from schools in North Pembrokeshire and Haverfordwest will eliminate choice for many students. This would lead to a postcode lottery, meaning that some students will have access to local sixth form provision, and others won’t – and that’s simply unacceptable. I hope that following today’s meeting, the Council will commit to delivering first-class sixth form provision in schools for all children and young people across Pembrokeshire.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

News

Tragedy above Milford Haven takeaway

Published

on

DYFED POWYS POLICE has confirmed that a 20-year-old male passed away in Milford Haven last Saturday, April 17.

Police were called to the USA Fried Chicken store on Charles Street at around 1:30pm but have said there are no suspicious circumstances.

A Herald reporter was at the scene and witnessed a number of police cars and an ambulance while plain-clothed officers were also seen.

HM Coroner has been informed.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson added: “We were called to Charles Street in Milford Haven on Saturday 17 April at approximately 1.34pm to reports of a medical emergency. We attended the scene with one emergency ambulance where we assisted colleagues from the police.”

Continue Reading

Health

Tavernspite School the ‘healthiest of schools despite the pandemic’

Published

on

THE STAFF, governors, parents, and of course, the children of Tavernspite Community Primary School are delighted to gain the Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes National Quality Award for an incredible 5th time after a recent and very rigorous assessment.

The school is already well known and highly regarded for its outstanding work in developing the health and wellbeing of all members of its school community. To achieve this prestigious recognition in the midst of a pandemic is all the more impressive. 

Health and Wellbeing at the school is led by teacher, Lauren Arthur, who has done an incredible job preparing for this re-assessment and raising the profile of the Healthy Schools scheme.

The assessor Mrs Lynne Perry, enjoyed a virtual tour and presentation by Year 3 pupils who took great pleasure in proudly showing Mrs Perry all the wonderful work the school has done to ensure its children are safe, happy with high levels of emotional and physical wellbeing.

In her report, Mrs Perry wrote, ‘Tavernspite School continues to be an outstanding health promoting school. The health promoting school ethos is evident across the whole school population and it runs seamlessly throughout everything that the school does. Tavernspite School continues to give high priority to promoting and enhancing the health and well-being of the whole school community.’

The school received fantastic support from Mrs Liz Western, Senior Public Health Officer and Lead for Healthy Schools and Pre-schools, Pembrokeshire, to whom they are very grateful.

Head teacher Kevin Phelps said, ‘We were delighted to receive this award for the fifth time, particularly considering the experiences we have all been through these past twelve months. Health and wellbeing has never been so important and we are proud to be leading the way like this.’

Continue Reading

News

Joinery learner through to Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year Finals

Published

on

PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE joinery learner, Conor Ratcliff has made it through to the final ten in this year’s Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year competition.

Now in its seventh year, the competition celebrates the next generation of tradespeople as they start out on their career. With over 2,500 nominations, Conor was shortlisted to the top 30 where he had to deliver a video presentation to industry-leading judges and trade body representatives. Judged on professionalism, creativity, innovation, enthusiasm and knowledge of their trade, Conor impressed the judges and is now in the final 10.  

Simon Jackson, Screwfix Customer and Digital director, commented: “Every year we are amazed by the outstanding quality of entrants and, this year, we are on the lookout for apprentices who go above and beyond to succeed within their chosen trade.

“We’ve seen how this career-boosting accolade and £10,000 prize bundle helps kickstart an apprentice’s career. I’d like to wish everyone through to this stage the best of luck!”

The prize package includes everything a future tradesperson may need to start up their own business including £5,000 of tools, a £3,000 training budget and £2,000 worth of technology. The college where they study will also receive £2,000.

Conor is thrilled to have made it through to the finals and commented: “I am extremely honoured to have made it this far in the competition and I am very excited for the final event. It would be an amazing opportunity for me, if I won this competition.

“I hope it encourages more people to consider an apprenticeship in a trade, the Carpentry and Joinery department have been incredibly supportive during my studies.”

The Final is due to take place imminently where the judges will conduct an online interview with the ten finalists before selecting and announcing their overall winner.

Continue Reading
News4 hours ago

Tragedy above Milford Haven takeaway

DYFED POWYS POLICE has confirmed that a 20-year-old male passed away in Milford Haven last Saturday, April 17. Police were...

News1 day ago

Joinery learner through to Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year Finals

PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE joinery learner, Conor Ratcliff has made it through to the final ten in this year’s Screwfix Trade Apprentice...

News1 day ago

Pembroke Dock: Trial date set in historical rape case

A 69-YEAR-OLD man, charged with nine counts of raping a girl under the age of 16 in Pembroke Dock, will...

News1 day ago

Milford Haven man admits string of sexual assaults at Crown Court

A MILFORD HAVEN man has pleaded guilty to five sexual assaults, four involving a girl under the age of 16...

Community1 day ago

Pembrokeshire RNLI crew member completes seven marathons in seven days

BYRON GREY, 21, an RNLI volunteer at Little and Broad Haven has run 186 miles across the Pembrokeshire coast, raising...

News2 days ago

Volunteers needed to stop wallies ‘harassing’ Walrus

A LOCAL marine wildlife group has issued a social media plea for people to come forward and help protect ‘Wally...

News2 days ago

Police confirm they are investigating fatal house fire in Haverfordwest

A HOUSE fire in Siskin Close, Haverfordwest last night sadly resulted in a fatality, Dyfed-Powys Police have confirmed. A spokesperson...

News3 days ago

Multi-agency response to house fire in Siskin Close, Haverfordwest

FIRE crews are attending a domestic fire in a property on Siskin Close, Haverfordwest. As of 11.45pm on Monday evening...

News3 days ago

Outdoor hospitality given go-ahead and rules on mixing outdoors relaxed in Wales

SIX people will be able to meet outdoors in Wales from Saturday 24 April while outdoor hospitality will be allowed...

News3 days ago

Police ‘enforcement and engagement’ to curb anti-social behaviour in Tenby

POLICE in Tenby will be using enforcement and engagement in a bid to curb future incidents of anti-social behaviour, they...

Popular This Week