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Tough choices for 21st century schools

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In an exclusive interview with The Pembrokeshire Herald, Council Leader Jamie Adams shares his vision for the future of Pembrokeshire’s schools

A COLD grey day slowly fades into twilight as Jamie Adams sits at a desk opposite me in an office tucked away in a maze of corridors at County Hall.

We are here to talk about the 21st Century Schools programme: the ambitious and wide-ranging plans that are a significant and potentially controversial part of the County Council’s plans for the future of education in Pembrokeshire.

tough choicesIn short, local authorities have been told to look at schools with low numbers and consolidate them, to look at their estate and ways to improve it and offered the chance of limited time funding to do both. The policy gained a high-profile casualty when the former Welsh Government Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, resigned after fighting locally a policy he promoted nationally.

The Pembrokeshire Herald wanted to find out what the Council’s plans were and, in a wide-ranging interview, spoke to Jamie Adams – who chairs the authority’s 21st Century Schools Management Board – about them.

“I would not say that the position in Pembrokeshire is any more challenging than it is in other counties,” Jamie Adams begins.

“I would rather regard it as an opportunity to shape the provision of education, and to address the problem of surplus places in our schools.

“We have twenty percent more school spaces than we have pupils to fill those spaces. Now, there are counties – I won’t name them – in which difficult decisions have been avoided in favour of the status quo. That is the easy route to take.

“For now, however, Pembrokeshire has the chance to obtain the funding to provide new buildings and new schools and to build for the future. This is a once in a generation chance to do this and I think that we should take up the challenge to shape education in our county for the better.”

He pauses and looks reflective, before continuing: “In order to build new schools, we must make some other choices. We have the opportunity to rationalize the Council’s estate. We cannot afford to operate surplus buildings or surplus space. It ties up capital.

“A good example would be youth centres, day centres, family centres: we cannot afford to keep these as single use buildings used only part of the time. We must ‘sweat the assets’ to get the most out of them. That means combining buildings’ uses to keep services affordable and buildings viable.

“We must do this in order to get the funding we need. The original 21st Century Schools scheme provided for a 70-30 split between central government and central government inputs. That is now 50-50. We have to find forty percent more of the funding than originally planned. As we are the second highest recipient of central government funding in Wales, our challenge is that much greater in terms of capacity for capital projects. We have got off to a good start and have a lot of the money in place. I am confident that within two years we will be one third of the way to our funding target in terms of releasing capital.

“As a council, our challenge over the next two to three years is to release the money tied up in existing assets that can be realised. That can only be done by a collective effort. My challenge is to convey the message that we need to move away from holding too much in buildings to do more with services.”

But what of specific schools: Johnston, for instance?

“When we first sent our exploratory bids in, they were prepared to a tight timescale as aspirational expressions of what we wanted to achieve. There was a narrow window provided by the Welsh Government. Some other Welsh councils decided not to stick their necks out, we were prepared to take the chance given.

“Since our initial expressions, we have taken the opportunity think both generally and strategically at schools and our education system in Pembrokeshire. We are focusing on three things: growth, outcomes and quality of build. We must also consider Welsh medium provision and special educational needs.

“So in terms of Johnston School, we looked again at the site. The present site is a nightmare for traffic twice a day. The streets around the school are simply not built to handle the number of cars going back and forward there. In addition, the buildings are ‘tired’ and need updating/replacing.

“While we looked originally at developing on the existing site, we decided that it was rather like trying to fit a size eight foot in a size six shoe. It is simply not going to fit. So, we have decided to find out if there are chances to develop elsewhere in Johnston.

“Secondly, we have identified an additional need for further support for special educational needs covering the area between Haverfordwest and Milford Haven and stretching inland and toward the coast. If you look at a map of the County, one location stands out as the sensible place to locate that provision: Johnston.

“In light of that revised thinking, our original proposal for Johnston School’s present site has been replaced by our wish to look at the opportunities for building a new school on a new site.”

What about Hakin and Hubberston schools?

“That’s an ongoing consultation, and I don’t want to prejudge its outcome. I point out, however, that for pre-eleven education, Estyn is looking for a single site school. Now Hakin is a split site already and Estyn want that point addressed.

“In terms of Hubberston, I do not doubt that we could make do with the existing buildings for a few more years, but the opportunity to develop our options is now. I think this is a unique chance to develop a new school on a single site.

“There are, of course, other issues: I am particularly pleased that the revised proposals incorporate the opportunity to retain faith-based education; that is to be welcomed. I am pleased that this area is bucking the trend across the county and that there is a growing young population there. In order to address that issue, we really ought to future-proof our provision now, when we have the chance. Finally, as it stands, we have three schools in very close proximity to each other and a new school on a single site makes more sense.

“At Broad Haven School we have the chance to provide a nursery and additional capacity. To an extent that is a less complicated project, as it is a much smaller school. But it fits into our strategic plan for the future provision of school places across Pembrokeshire.

“Make no mistake: we will have to make tough choices in the future as well. The Council will be moving on to consider the Angle Peninsula and the area south and west of Pembroke town. We need to consider how viable our current provision is and whether there are opportunities to use resources more efficiently there.

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Paul Sartori taking action to support climate with National Lottery grant of nearly £14,000

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LOCAL hospice at home charity, Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, is taking action to support the climate with the installation of solar panels at its main head office in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

The charity which delivers end of life care services across Pembrokeshire, has been awarded a grant to fund the purchase and installation of solar panels at Paul Sartori House, Winch Lane. This investment is part of an ongoing commitment to address the climate emergency and the charity joins many others who are taking action. Paul Sartori was one of 35 community groups, who were selected to take part in the Climate Action Boost scheme, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

Working alongside Renew Wales, a partner in the initiative, the group explored methods to help tackle the causes and consequences of climate change, and to operate more sustainably. A number of options were discussed to reduce their impact on the environment and Renew Wales helped the charity to develop an environmental action plan, which is to be implemented over the coming months. The scheme available to cover a variety of environmental reduction activities, including renewable energy, reducing consumption, local food and reduced or less impactful travel.

Paul Sartori Hospice at Home wouldn’t normally be associated with environmental activity. Through regular consultation over many months, the charity has been really encouraged by what they have learnt.

“We have invested a lot of time in developing the plan; discussed a number of alternatives along the way, but feel that the solar panel installation will have the biggest impact for the charity in the long term”, said Sandra Dade, Charity Manager. “The National Lottery Climate Action Boost has really inspired our charity to minimise our impacton the environment and we will continue this journey,” added Sandra.

Jemma Nurse, Funding Manager at The National Lottery Community Fund said, “The climate emergency is everyone’s business, which is why The National Lottery Community Fund is acting to support and inspire communities to minimise their own impact on the environment. We are proud to be a significant funder of environmental projects and Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, along with the other groups participating in Climate Action Boost, will play a valuable part in building our knowledge so we can share our learning with other funders across Wales and the UK.”

The services provided by the Paul Sartori Hospice at Home enable people in the later stages of any life-limiting illness to be cared for and to die at home with dignity, independence, pain free and surrounded by those they hold most dear, if that is their wish.

All of the services are free of charge, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to the generosity of the Pembrokeshire Community. Further information on the charity and its services can be obtained by visiting their website www.paulsartori.org, or by phoning 01437 763223.

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New nursing service to support carers of people living with dementia

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HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD, in partnership with Dementia UK, is launching a new nursing service to support carers of people living with dementia.

The Admiral Nurse service will be a significant addition to the current support available to people living with dementia and their carers. The initiative is in line with the Dementia Action Plan for Wales 2018-2022, a Welsh Government strategy that aims to recognise the rights of people with dementia, make them feel valued, and help them live as independently as possible in their communities.

The team will cover Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire with a focus on delivering person–centred and relationship-centred dementia care. The Admiral Nurses will work collaboratively in a family-centric manner, across health and social care pathways, to provide support, expert guidance & practical solutions to enable families/carers, including the person living with dementia, to maximise their wellbeing and improve the experience of those affected by dementia.

Dementia UK is the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting families affected by dementia through dementia specialist Admiral Nurses.  When things get challenging or difficult for people with dementia and their families, Admiral Nurses work alongside them, giving the compassionate one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions that can be difficult to find elsewhere. They are a lifeline, helping families to live more positively with dementia in the present, and to face the challenges of tomorrow with more confidence and less fear.  

The service launched on 29th March 2021 and is now accepting referrals.

Charlotte Duhig, Admiral Nurse Clinical Lead, said: “I am honoured to be leading this new service to support carers and families of people living with dementia across the counties served by Hywel Dda University Health Board. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredibly challenging time for people living with dementia and their carers but I’m confident that this much-needed service will make a difference to the lives of those affected by dementia.

“Having previously set up an Admiral Nurse Service, I know the benefit of working as an Admiral Nurse as families can get the emotional and practical support to allow them to plan for the future. Health and social care professionals can also take advantage of our in-depth knowledge of dementia.”

Dr Hilda Hayo, CEO and Chief Admiral Nurse at Dementia UK, says: “We are delighted to announce this new Admiral Nurse service in partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board. The fact that this service extends to a large rural area within West Wales, with the support of two Welsh-speaking Admiral Nurses, means that we are improving access to dementia specialist support for families.”            

To be able to access this service, the following referral criteria applies:

  • The person being supported/cared for by the carer has a diagnosis (or likely diagnosis) of dementia.
  • The person with dementia and/or carer lives in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire (or is registered with a GP in those areas).
  • The carer agrees to their referral to the Admiral Nurse
  • The carer should have identified need(s) that impact upon their caring role or as a consequence of their caring role*

If you are a health or social care professional or 3rd sector working with someone you believe this service could benefit, or you are a carer of someone living with dementia and would like to be referred to the service, please contact a health or social care professional who can refer you. 

For further information, contact the nursing team direct:

Clinical Lead: Charlotte.Duhig@wales.nhs.uk

Admiral NurseContact detailsLocality covered
Bethan BulmanBethan.Bulman@wales.nhs.ukCeredigion North
Donna Phillips Ceredigion South
Emma VenablesEmma.Venables@wales.nhs.ukPembrokeshire North
Rosie BellRosie.Bell@wales.nhs.ukPembrokeshire South
Siriol DyerSiriol.Dyer2@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (3Ts)
Liz WrightElizabeth.Wright@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (Amman Gwendraeth)
Donna OwensDonna.Owens2@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (Llanelli)
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Police looking for a couple with a dog after teenage girl bitten in Haverfordwest

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POLICE hunting for the owners of a ‘pitbull’ type dog which bit a teenage girl in Haverfordwest last month.

Dyfed-Powys Police is investigating an incident which occurred at about 6.15pm on Tuesday 6th April 2021.

As two teenage girls were walking along Barn Street, Haverfordwest a dog has bitten one of the girls leaving visible marks and bruising.

The dog was accompanied by a man and a woman, both described as approximately 30 years old. 

The man is described as white, bald, a jaw line beard, big build wearing camouflage trousers and a jumper.

The woman is described as white, with black hair, medium to large build and shorter than the man she was with.

Their dog is described as a pitbull type dog, ginger in colour with black markings.

Anyone who has witnessed the incident or anyone who has information that could help the investigation is asked to contact PC David Norman 227 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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