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Sixth form scheme snubbed

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6th form in schoolCOUNCILLORS who attended a presentation by pupils of Tasker- Milward and Sir Thomas Picton schools on Wednesday, April 29, were left in little doubt about the strength of feeling and depth of opposition to the local authority’s scheme to strip Haverfordwest schools of their sixth forms.

The presentation, would have made uncomfortable listening for some councillors as student after student made it clear just how important having a sixth form in school was for the school community.

Cory Jenkins, the Head Boy of Sir Thomas Picton School, and Millie Thomas, Deputy Head Girl of Tasker- Milward, coordinated the presentations made by members of the schools, who face losing their sixth forms if the Council presses on with its scheme to site a new single sixth form centre at Pembrokeshire College.

Or at least that is the plan the Council is consulting on.

It appeared from comments made by Cllr David Lloyd near the meeting’s close that the Council has largely abandoned the sole proposal upon which it is now consulting.

Pupils’ impassioned plea

In a moving address to councillors, Cory Jenkins related how the personal knowledge of a teacher who had known him for years, allowed him to look again at his future and reconsider his original decision to attend an NVQ3 course in Drama and Theatre at Pembrokeshire College. He disclosed how polls of students at both Sir Thomas Picton and Tasker- Milward overwhelmingly supported the retention of sixth form education in Haverfordwest’s secondary schools.

Electing to remain in Sir Thomas Picton and study for A Levels, Cory has been offered a place at the London School of Economics. Cory was clear that, as were other speakers, the direct involvement of inspirational teachers with direct knowledge of students gained over a number of years, was something the Council’s plans put in jeopardy.

Luzelle Davies spoke movingly of the importance of the sixth form in delivering assistance and support to younger students. Without sixth form presence in the school, Luzelle stated that the level of pastoral guidance given by post-16 students in school could not be replaced easily, if at all. Highlighting the reading support project within Tasker-Milward School and its importance in developing confidence in younger students and empathetic skills in older ones, Luzelle said that there was no way in which the scheme could be as successful or as rewarding for participants without sixth form input.

Responding to a question as to whether students in Year 11 could provide the support currently given by those in Years 12 and 13, Millie Thomas gave a clear and decisive ‘no’. Explaining how the pressure of working towards GCSE’s at the end of Year 11 meant that such a proposal would be impractical, Millie pointed out that periods in which Year 12 and 13 students were not in class or working in school provided them alone with the capacity and time to engage with younger students and build the school as a living community.

Not only about academics

The Council’s plan for repatriating students to their original schools to participate in sports once they were ensconced in Pembrokeshire College as students was given short shrift by student Tom Harvey. Describing the plans as ‘not very well thought out’, Tom pointed out that it was impractical to simply uproot students and transplant them back without continuity of sports coaching. Tom warned that the most likely result of the scheme was to reduce participation by young people in sport. One councillor in attendance was heard to mutter that the authority’s proposals on sport smacked of ‘back of a fag packet calculation’.

The suggestion that the Council had adequately consulted before it made its proposal was vigorously disputed by Millie Thomas. Pointing out that students learned of the proposals to strip schools of their sixth forms by reading about it in The Herald and other local press, she related how the original proposals were for 11-19 education to remain in schools and the proposal to relocate post-16 education to Pembrokeshire College came out of the blue.

Cory Jenkins took up the baton and demonstrated the Council’s careless use of statistics to back up its claims regarding the success of post-16 school-based education. Pointing out that claims made of superior performance at post-16 by Pembrokeshire College ignored the size difference between schools and the College. 165 students heading off to university from the College in 2014, represented only 1% of its post-16 cohort, whereas 26% of A Level students headed to Russell Group universities alone from the sixth form in Haverfordwest’s schools.

Cllr David Lloyd made an interesting contribution both to the event and to the wider debate about the future of post-16 education.

While he said that councillors would listen to the views expressed by the students, and praised them for their eloquence, he averred that councillors had to look at ‘the broad picture’. In terms, he appeared to tell students that listening to them would not entail acting to allay their concerns in a concrete way.

And then Cllr Lloyd made a revelation.

The plans subject to the consultation, and upon which the Council is spending tens of thousands of pounds of public money and resources, do not seem to be the plans that the Council is promoting in Fishguard and Saint Davids. Instead, taking Cllr Lloyd at his word the Council appears is both promoting and pursuing a multi-site semi-federated strategy allowing some sixth form retention at Ysgol Bro Gwaun and Ysgol Dewi Sant.

The Herald has been able to confirm that is the plan being touted to mollify parents in Fishguard and Saint Davids.

If Cllr Lloyd is correct and that is the Council’s plan, it is not clear what residual legitimacy still attaches to the current consultation.

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Further coronavirus restriction relaxations brought forward

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FURTHER changes to the coronavirus restrictions have been announced by the First Minister Mark Drakeford today.

The Welsh Government has confirmed further relaxations will be brought forward from 17 May to 3 May – including the resumption of indoor supervised activities for children, indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults, such as exercise classes, and the re-opening of community centres.

This means Wales will have completed the move to Alert Level 3 by Monday 3 May.

From Saturday 24 April, the rule of 6 will allow for up to six people from six households to meet outdoors, not including children under 11 years of age or carers from those households.

The Welsh Government has also confirmed the relaxations that will take place on Monday 26 April. Outdoor attractions, including outdoor swimming pools, funfairs and theme parks, will be allowed to reopen, while outdoor hospitality can also resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants.

Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people will be able to take place and weddings receptions can begin again outdoors for up to 30 people.

Wales has the lowest coronavirus rates of the UK nations.  The successful vaccine programme continues with a higher proportion of people vaccinated in Wales than other nations of the UK for both first and second doses.

Changes from Monday 3 May:

  • Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities being able to reopen;
  • People will also again be able to form extended households with one other household.

Relaxations planned for 17 May will be brought forward to the 3 May, including:

  • The resumption of indoor supervised activities for children;
  • Indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults (such as exercise classes and swimming lessons);
  • And the re-opening of community centres.

The First Minister said:

“The sacrifices we have made continue to show results. By us all working together and sticking to the rules, combined with our vaccination programme, mean we continue to make progress. Rates of the virus continue to fall and the public health situation is improving. 

“Due to these efforts we are able confirm more easing of the restrictions from 26 April and for early May we are again able to bring forward some of our plans. However, this progress is dependent on all of us continuing to work together to keep Wales safe.

“At the last three-week review, I set out a forward-look of how the restrictions could continue to be lifted in the weeks ahead, if the public health situation remains stable.

“It will be for the incoming Welsh Government to confirm these arrangements at the next three-week review, which will be held on May 13 – a week after the election. It is my assessment that the hospitality sector – bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes – will be able to open indoors from May 17, together with all other tourist accommodation, indoor entertainment and attractions.”

Further possible easements are subject to the public health situation remaining favourable.

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News

Tragedy above Milford Haven takeaway

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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.”

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Health

Tavernspite School the ‘healthiest of schools despite the pandemic’

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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.’

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