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Education

Pembrokeshire County Council Failings lead to set up of Education Recovery Board

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huw-lewis-265017737-2512757Concerned parents and guardians of our County’s children will be disappointed with the decision by the Welsh Assembly to appoint a Welsh Recovery Board to oversee improvements, once again, in Pembrokeshire County Council’s education service. This comes after nearly two years of our Council attempting to resolve this worrying situation, without, it would appear, satisfactory success.

In 2011, a report by Children Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, led to a team being sent by the Assembly with the purpose of overseeing change in Pembrokeshire County Council’s policies and systems for safeguarding children and young people. These were judged to be ‘unfit for purpose’ by ESTYN who had produced a report at that time.

Council leader at the time, John Davies, assured voters and County constituents that Pembrokeshire County Council were not hiding from the matters raised, and he promised improvements and change in order to meet the requirements of both ESTYN and the Welsh Assembly.

It will come as grim news, therefore, that now Ministers from the Welsh Government have stated that changes in how our Pembrokeshire County Council safeguards children are not happening fast enough. As a result of this dissatisfaction, Huw Lewis, the Assembly Education Minister, along with Local Government Minister, Lesley Griffiths, have decided to set up a Recovery Board to oversee these required improvements in Pembrokeshire’s Education Services.

Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, Jamie Adams, is quoted as saying he welcomes the board, having already had productive meetings with them.

Reading from a local newspaper’s message board, and in response to this developing story, it was clear from the comments attached to the story, that parents are angered and dismayed by the seeming inability of Pembrokeshire County Council to resolve issues and problems directed at them from some two years ago, despite Assembly assistance.

In April of this year, the Pembrokeshire Ministerial Board was wound up after more than a year and a half advising the local authority on changes to its policies and operation for safeguarding children.

In a Welsh Government written statement, Huw Edwards, Minister for Education, commented on an ESTYN report published in December 2012 that had said of Pembrokeshire, ‘The Authority’s education services were found to be unsatisfactory’, and it further went on to say that they had, ‘judged Pembrokeshire’s prospects for improvement as unsatisfactory’. As well as that, it stated that, ‘corporate leaders and senior elected members have been too slow to recognise key issues in safeguarding’. Of Pembrokeshire County Council, Mr Lewis continued by adding that, ‘arrangements lack rigour and do not identify, accurately, areas in need of further improvement and the Authority has made limited progress in addressing recommendations from previous inspections’.

In support of those who provide the day to day education in our County, Angela Davies, Shadow Minister for Education and local AM, said that,

“Education services in Pembrokeshire have gone through a torrid time over the past few years but parents and pupils must hold fast to the fact that the majority of the teaching profession are totally committed to providing an excellent education for Pembrokeshire children”.

She was, however, quite clear as to where the blame should lie for the failings of the County Council education services and said,

“The ongoing problems stemmed from inadequate management practices within education services and a poor attitude to the proper safeguarding of children. Like all parents I know that I expect my children to be treated well and kept safe at school. Their well being and safety is of equal importance as the education they receive, and it was with a great sense of shock that we learnt of the adverse, and, at times, damning reports from Estyn and CSSIW which were the reasons for the initial Pembrokeshire Ministerial Board and for education services to be put into special measures.

The key issues appear to be inadequate oversight of key services, a lack of action when things went wrong, inadequate management, weak representation and an overly strong officer culture resistant to change. Since then a number of agencies have examined aspects of education and safeguarding in Pembrokeshire and there appears to be a sense that improvements are ongoing but are happening too slowly.

The fact that the Welsh Government have felt able to replace the Ministerial Board with a Recovery Board is good news and I am sure that Pembrokeshire’s appointment of a new Head of Education Services will usher in a more dynamic and constructive era.”

She also went on to make further comment on the Assembly’s role in education for Wales,

“I am concerned that there are so many local authority education services in special measures throughout Wales and I have called on the Welsh Government to explain why this is so.

It is also concerning to note that the General Teaching Council for Wales is not being inundated with lots of disciplinary cases arising from all these special measures and I would have thought that if education is so very bad in Wales, given the six Authorities in special measures, then the GTC would be flat out.

I am aware that the Government has an agenda for change and there are recommendations that there should be fewer local education authorities, ultimately, perhaps, leading to fewer county councils. However, I do not want to see education services, teachers and, above all, our children’s present and future being used to crowbar change. So I challenge the Government to ensure their actions are crystal clear and their motives pure.”

It is to be hoped that for the sake of our County’s children and for the peace of mind of parents and guardians alike that this Recovery Board is able, finally, to steer our County Council’s education services in the right direction, and resolve the safeguarding issues that remain of grave concern to all those who work in those areas where children are involved. As one local teacher put it, “No one wants to see a repeat of what happened at the Pupil Referral Unit in Neyland or read again about twenty-five cases of alleged professional abuse, as happened between 2007 and 2011”.

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Education

Education Minister to quit Senedd in May

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KIRSTY WILLIAMS, Wales’ Education Minister will not stand in next year’s Senedd elections.

Ms Williams, who holds the constituency seat for Brecon and Radnorshire was first elected to the then-Welsh Assembly in 1999.

“After much reflection, I have decided not to stand as a candidate in the next election,” she said.

Kirsty Williams is highly-regarded and seen as being perhaps the ablest of the current Welsh Cabinet.

Her departure from the Senedd in May could spark a Cabinet reshuffle by Mark Drakeford.

Mrs Williams said: “There is of course sadness in making this decision, but also a strong sense of pride. Above all else, I’d like to thank the people of Brecon and Radnorshire for their support over the last two decades.”

Writing to her local constituency party, Kirsty Williams said: “Next May it will have been 22 years since I was first elected to represent the people of Brecon and Radnorshire.

“The local party, and then the constituency, placed its trust in me – a young, female, Welsh Liberal Democrat, new to elected politics and for our new parliament. It remains the proudest day of my political career.

“And for us to keep winning and keep achieving for our community, has been the honour of my life.

“To be the parliamentarian for Brecon and Radnorshire and in Powys is not to own the seat or constituency, it is to be a steward of it – following in the footsteps of Welsh Liberal giants and hopefully being able to pass on and support another generation.

“I know that my pride in being the first female leader of a Welsh political party was shared locally and nationally, and I hope it was a small inspiration to others. Working with my party colleagues in the Senedd, we worked diligently to hold the Government to account.

“Despite being an opposition party, we turned campaigns into policies that changed lives across the country.
“This included the introduction of the Nurse Staffing Levels Act and the Pupil Development Grant which continues to support our most disadvantaged pupils.”

Kirsty Williams said it had been “an immense honour to serve my country as Education Minister”.

“Every day I have been inspired and uplifted by the shared commitment across the country to be ambitious for all our learners,” she said.

“‘Our national mission’ has been the biggest programme of education reform since the Second World War. It has been a nation-wide collective endeavour.

“The support I’ve received from civil servants, private office, and Ministerial colleagues has been invaluable and unstinting.

“Over the last four years, we have fought to raise standards for all children, to reduce the attainment gap and to get some pride and confidence back into Welsh education. Working together,
our improved performance in national and international assessments, radical student support changes and investment in teachers, is proof that education is truly Wales’s national mission. Being
the family of a politician is never easy. I must thank my husband and three wonderful daughters for the patience, and at times resilience, that they have shown over these years.

“My late parents started the interest in politics and current affairs with lively debate around the kitchen table, and I know they would be proud of how their granddaughters are already strong independent women with their own opinions!

“It is with them in mind that, after a great deal of thought and reflection, I have decided not to stand as a candidate at the next Senedd election. The next candidate, and the Welsh Liberal Democrats, will have my abiding support and I will be out there campaigning as ever.

“There is, of course, sadness in making this decision, but also with a sense of achievement and pride. Above all else, I would like to thank the people of Brecon and Radnorshire for their support over the last two decades. Diolch o Galon. I may be biased, but I am in no doubt that our constituency is truly the greatest anyone could have the privilege of representing.”

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Education

Ysgol Harri Tudur issues update following confirmed coronavirus case

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FOLLOWING the discovery of a positive case of Covid-19 at Ysgol Harri Tudur / Henry Tudor School, Pembroke, Pembrokeshire County Council, Public Health Wales and Hywel Dda University Health Board have worked with the school to ensure that all possible precautionary measures are being taken to minimise risk of transmission of the virus.

All organisations have also continued to work closely with the Test Trace and Protect team.

All the necessary checks in relation to the positive Covid case have now been concluded and we can confirm that learners in 7H and learners in Years 9, 10 and 11 will not be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Parents are advised that virtual Learning is currently continuing on Google Classrooms but pupils are welcome to come into school for the remaining Period 3 and Period 4 today.

 

Parents/guardians have been given the following advice by Hywel Dda University Health Board:

If a child/parent/household member develops symptoms of COVID-19, the entire household should immediately self-isolate, and book a test for the individual with the symptoms. It is unnecessary to test the entire household if they are not symptomatic.

 

The COVID-19 symptoms are:

 

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • loss of or change to sense of smell or taste

 

Booking a COVID-19 test:

 

Hywel Dda University Health Board recommends testing only for those with a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or loss of or change in the sense of taste or smell.

 

If a child does not have symptoms of COVID-19 but has other cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, they do not need to be tested and they and you do not need to self-isolate. Your child can go to school if fit to do so.

 

If a COVID-19 test is required, this should be arranged via the UK Booking Portal, https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-test or by ringing 119. Testing is available within Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire or via a home testing kit delivered to and collected from your home. The COVID-19 test is undertaken via a throat swab or combined throat and nose swab.

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Education

Milford Haven Community Primary School Covid case information

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MILFORD HAVEN Community Primary School is aware of information circulating that a learner at the school has received a positive Covid-19 test.

The learner has not been in school for a period of time.

The school has consulted with Pembrokeshire County Council, Public Health Wales and Hywel Dda University Health Board and it has been concluded that no pupils in the school are at risk and there is no need for any learners to self-isolate as a result.

Please continue to keep safe, well and follow the advice below from the Health Board.

If a child/parent/household member develops symptoms of Covid-19, the entire household should immediately self-isolate, and book a test for the individual with the symptoms.

It is unnecessary to test the entire household if they are not symptomatic.

The Covid-19 symptoms are:

• a new continuous cough
• a high temperature
• loss of or change to sense of smell or taste

Booking a Covid-19 test:

Hywel Dda University Health Board recommends testing only for those with a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or loss of or change in the sense of taste or smell.

If a child does not have symptoms of Covid-19 but has other cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, they do not need to be tested and they and you do not need to self-isolate. Your child can go to school if fit to do so.

If a Covid-19 test is required, this should be arranged via the UK Booking Portal, https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-test or by ringing 119. Testing is available within Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire or via a home testing kit delivered to and collected from your home. The Covid-19 test is undertaken via a throat swab or combined throat and nose swab.

Self-isolation:

It is essential that people who have Covid-19 symptoms, or who share a household with someone who has symptoms, must self-isolate, even if your symptoms are mild. To protect others, you must not attend school, nursery, other childcare settings, work, or go to or to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

Anyone with symptoms must self-isolate for 10 days from when their symptoms started. They can return to school or work after 10 days if they are well enough to do so. A pupil must remain fever free for at least 48 hrs.

Anyone in the household who does not have symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days from when the first person in the home started having symptoms.

If a parent thinks their child has symptoms BUT chooses not to put them through a test all household members must remain in self-isolation for 14 days from the onset of symptoms.

If you receive a positive test result, you will be contacted by the Test, Trace, Protect Team who will advise you further.

Non-household members/contacts:

If a person has been in contact with an individual experiencing symptoms, they should carry on as normal until that individual receives their test result. If this is positive, the Test, Trace, Protect Team will contact those people identified as contacts and advise accordingly.

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