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Education

Schools consultation fixed by Welsh Government

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Schools protest at County Hall last year

Schools protest at County Hall last year

EXCLUSIVE

NEW LIGHT has been shed on the role of the Welsh Government’s Education department in the saga of the consultation on the future of post-16 education in Haverfordwest.

After denying that the Welsh Government had ‘a preferred solution’ for sixth form education in the County, an email has emerged which casts doubt not only on that assertion but on the integrity of the whole process of consultation.

Last week, the Welsh Government denied that it had ever expressed any preference for any solution in relation to sixth form education in North and Mid Pembrokeshire.

The issue arose from the content of a letter sent by Pembrokeshire College Principal Sharron Lusher to Council chief Ian Westley in September last year.

In that letter, Ms Lusher referred on a number of occasions to the Welsh Education Department having a preferred option, it appeared for the reorganisation of sixth form education.

After the Welsh Government denied it had any preferred solution for the future of post-16 education, Ms Lusher responded that such views as the Welsh Government had expressed were limited to questions of governance.

Her response rather left the question hanging as to why the Welsh Government would express any preference for the governance arrangements of any institution unless it had a clear idea as to what the outcome of the supposed ‘consultation’ on its future was going to be.

Now, The Herald has been passed an email from the Welsh Government’s Deputy Head of Further Education, Andrew Clarke, to County Education Head Kate Evans Hughes.

That email, dated July last year, says:  “Taking everything into account, I would struggle to make an argument for anything other than … to set up a sixth form centre under the governance of Pembrokeshire College.”

That email drives a coach and horses through any supposed role the Welsh Government might have in impartially deciding the outcome of the consultation, which at the time that assertion was made had not even finished.

The email puts in doubt the good faith of the Council in dealing with the Trustees of the Tasker-Milward and Picton charity after that point, especially bearing in mind the flat lie in the briefing document prepared for councillors which alleges those Trustees were insistent on an 11-19 school being sited at the site of Tasker-Milward School.

When The Herald discussed the issue of local determination with Plaid Cymru Education spokesperson and candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, he expressed grave concerns about the role of the Welsh Government’s Education Department and its apparent intervention in the consultation process.

After the Council’s shambolic conduct of the consultation on secondary education, it appears as though all the options supposed to be on offer boil down to Hobson’s choice. That particularly appears to be the case after the most recent seminar for county councillors, on Monday, Feb 22, at which officers detailed the Council’s legal strategy in the event of any challenge to the decision it has not yet made but which Jamie Adams, the IPPG, and officers plainly intend to make, come hell or high water.

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Education

Delight as foundation phase learners return to class

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PEMBROKESHIRE Headteachers have reported very positive returns to school for Foundation Phase Learners.

All Foundation Phase Learners returned to schools on Monday, March 1st and attendance has been reported at almost 90% since.

The Council’s Director for Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said: “A wide range of council services have worked together to ensure that Foundation Phase pupils have been able to return
safely to school.

“I am particularly grateful to all school staff and families for ensure that learning is now available for our youngest learners face to face.”

Headteachers remarked how schools have filled with smiles and laughter following the safe and phased return of Foundation Phase learners.

Cora O’Brien, Headteacher at Waldo Williams School in Haverfordwest emphasised how quickly learners have settled back in to a routine.

“It has been an absolute joy to hear their laughter in the playground and to observe their love of learning face to face once again. I thank everybody in the Waldo Williams School
community for working so hard to ensure that the transition went smoothly.”

Vicky Hart-Griffiths, Headteacher of Ysgol Hafan y Mor in Tenby, said: “It has been wonderful to welcome all our Foundation Phase learners back to school. They are thriving, being amongst
friends and back to a school routine.  

“All the pupils have spoken about how happy they are to have returned and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome them back and we can’t wait until we have all our pupils back in school.

“The school feels alive again and there’s a positive buzz and laughter once again echoing throughout the school.”

Gareth Lewis, Headteacher at Broad Haven CP School said children had returned “with real enthusiasm, and have been very keen to meet up with their friends.”

Mr Lewis added: “Our parents have been very supportive and positive about the return, and those with older children are very much looking forward to a wider return to schooling.”

Mr Richards-Downes said plans were now turning to more learners returning to schools in the near future.

“We are looking to the next phases of the re-opening of schools on the 15th of March as long as the government guidelines allow.”

Further details will be released in due course.

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Education

Teacher’s gruelling challenge to help visually impaired child

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TEACHER Sion Jenkins is running 100 laps around a famous Pembrokeshire landmark to raise money to help a visually impaired child in his class.

He is aiming to raise £2,000 on crowd funder platform Go Fund Me by doing laps of Carew Castle and Mill in just 24 hours, about one hundred miles in total.

Sion said: “I decided that I wanted to raise money to help purchase a trike/adapted bike to help a visually impaired child in my class.

“Due to his sight, he isn’t able to ride a bike – and is desperate to gain some independence/confidence and ride a bike like every other child.

“On the back of a challenge set by school, to complete the ‘100 challenge’ as a tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore, I decided to tie the two together and have a go at completing this gruelling challenge.

“100 laps of Carew Castle and Mill will total just under 100 miles – in less than 24 hours.”

If you would like to contribute to this epic challenge this is the link:

https://uk.gofundme.com/f/carew-mill-100-laps-in-24-hours?

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Education

Schools partnership promotes the benefits of outdoor learning

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OUTDOOR learning across the county has received a welcome boost over the past 12 months as a result of additional funding secured by the Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools (PODS) project, which has covered the cost of a Co-ordinator working directly with schools.

Thanks to financial backing from the People’s Postcode Local Trust and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust, the PODS Co-ordinator has been able to help with the delivery of high quality, curriculum-linked learning experiences in school grounds and local outdoor spaces.

Part of the Co-ordinator’s role is also to bring together local and national organisations, including Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Discovery team, teachers and head teachers. Pooling their diverse knowledge and expertise, the partnership seeks to share good practice and promote the benefits of taking lessons outdoors.

Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools Co-ordinator Bryony Rees said: “Last summer, the Welsh Government recognised the importance of outdoor learning in the post-lockdown return to school. We have been working hard to support this by giving children and teachers increased opportunities to take their learning outdoors.

“We have already engaged with a number of schools across Pembrokeshire and produced some live webinars. Supporting resources for these can be found on HWB. This has made it possible to reach out to even more schools with practical information, inspiration and advice on delivering outdoor learning programmes.

“Several schools have taken the opportunity to develop their school grounds to support outdoor learning and more recently, Neyland Community School has introduced outdoor lessons every Friday.”

During the most recent lockdown, work has continued online and the PODS website has been developed to provide teachers with some learning resources. Outdoor learning ideas and inspiration for teachers and parents are also shared on the PODS Facebook page (Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools) and on Twitter @PembsOutdoorSch.

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