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Uncertainty over school closures

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county hallPembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet took the decision on Monday (January 13th) to undertake a review of secondary education provision in Haverfordwest.

A report will be re-submitted to Cabinet in Spring 2014 that will outline options and recommendations that could ultimately decide the future of the two Haverfordwest secondary schools. This comes after a report was commissioned in June of last year. The report’s findings may make for alarming reading for parents, teachers and governors alike.

According to the “School Organisation Matrix – Secondary Schools” report, both schools scored low in the following criteria: quality and future sustainability of education provision; sufficiency and accessibility of school places; the condition, suitability and standard of school buildings and value for money.

These findings were the catalyst to Cabinet discussing the need for approval for a further detailed review of secondary education, and the future of the two schools. Options that are being considered, which include maintaining the status quo, also, alarmingly, cite the possibilities of either a merger or even closure. In addition, being considered are changes to designation that might include age, language or faith.

The Council published the following proposition, “A review of provision should be undertaken prior to moving to preliminary consultation, to ensure that consultation proposals:

• Are prepared at a formative stage, with all relevant options included.

• Include sufficient reasons and information for the proposal to enable intelligent consideration and response.

• Give a detailed description of the status quo setting out its strengths and weaknesses and the rationale for change.

• Provide a timeline for each option in the proposal in respect of informal and statutory consultation and implementation.

• Benefits and advantages analysis of the proposals.

• Information on learner travel arrangements.

• Community impact assessment and equalities impact assessment.”

The Council states that the objectives for any review are designed to, ‘drive up standards of teaching and attainment in all schools, to improve educational outcomes for children and young people in all phases, to ensure value for money, to ensure buildings are fit for the future delivery of high standards of education and to help narrow the inequalities in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged areas, groups and individuals’.

Anxious parents and teachers will hope the Council looks favourably on the standards in both schools as well as seeing value for money. Either way, the community impact could be devastating if any changes are made to the continued provision of education by both schools.

The future of Thomas Picton and Taskers coincides with another review taking place that is assessing the fate of another Pembrokeshire School, Templeton CP.

This has come about, again, from the School Organisation Matrix. In a report the conclusions, amongst other things, stated that standards of education in the school have declined since the school’s Estyn inspection in 2009. It also said that the level of spaces in the Templeton and Stepaside areas are a cause for concern in relation to meeting Welsh Government targets and, ultimately, that the catchment areas of the schools should be revised as a means of re-balancing the sufficiency of pupil places in the area.

As a result, the following options are being considered in relation to the school’s fate: extending the age range of the school to accept part time three year olds, establish federation with either Narberth CP school or Tavernspite CP school, the closure of the school or, a change of status of either Templeton CP or Narberth CP Schools to a Welsh Medium school.

Parents will wait anxiously to find out what happens as a result of Cabinet approval, that the Director for Children and Schools undertake a review of educational provision at the school.

 

 

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Rosslare ready to go it alone

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THE UK Government stands ready to revoke legislation governing the relationship between the ports of Fishguard and Rosslare.

The abolition of the current arrangements is a step closer according to Irish newspaper reports of a recent meeting between Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesperson Robert Troy and Wexford TD James Browne.

According to the reports, Mr Grayling told the Irish politicians that the UK has ‘no strategic or economic’ interest in keeping the ports’ governance structure.

The Irish Government, meanwhile, regards Rosslare as a major part of its Brexit plans and has acquired further land to provide additional facilities there.

The ports are governed by a UK Act of Parliament from 1888, which created the Fishguard and Rosslare Railways and Harbour Company.

The Act continued to govern the relationship between the Ports, even after most of Ireland secured its independence from the – then – British empire.

However, the old legislation has – in the view of Irish TD James Browne – hindered the Irish Government’s ability to expand activities at Rosslare to the benefit of the local and Irish economies.

Stena Line: Looking at the long term development of both ports

Fishguard and Rosslare ports are part of the one company, namely the Fishguard and Rosslare Railway and Harbours Company set up by an Act of Parliament.

Mr Browne explained to The Herald: “In effect, ownership of the port lies with UK government. But in turn the ports are effectively run as private companies: Irish Rail control and operate the Rosslare end and Stena control and operate the Fishguard side and there is an agreement in place as to the division of profits of the company.

“In Ireland, this complex and archaic ownership model has regularly been cited as an inhibiting factor in the development of the port. In short, no one will invest in a port whose ownership is unclear.”
The opportunity is not, however, all on one side, says the Wexford TD: “The decoupling of the two ports, and the transfer of Rosslare to Irish state ownership would free up both ports from this complex ownership model and allow investment in the ports.”

Mr Browne also highlighted the potential for growth in economic activity in West Wales’ closest trading neighbour: “Dublin Port is so busy that it is turning away business. Rosslare Port is in an ideal geographical location to attract shipping business and to take the pressure off of Dublin. Port. It, in turn, would act as an economic driver for the entire South East of Ireland.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb told us: Stephen: “The importance of the Fishguard – Rosslare ferry connection is unquestionable with 80% of all goods from Ireland passing through Welsh ports.
“However, the historic legal framework for the ports is outdated and does not give either side the freedom they need to develop and innovate. I can well understand why change is being sought at this time.

“I have met with the management on both sides of the Irish Sea to discuss Brexit planning and other aspects of the industry and will continue to do so.”

Ian Hampton, Chief People and Communications Officer, Stena Line said: “Stena Line hopes that by removing the historical legislation that governs the status of The Fishguard Rosslare Railways and Harbour Company it will enable Stena Line and the Irish Government to work closer together creating greater opportunity, such as the options for the long term development of both the respective ports.”

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Mums in Wales face shortfall in mental health services

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THOUSANDS of women in Wales who need specialist support for mental health problems during pregnancy or following birth are unable to access the care they need because of where they live. And others needing specialist inpatient care must receive it in England because Wales does not have a mother and baby inpatient unit for women suffering the most severe mental health conditions.

Perinatal mental health problems are one of the most common complications experienced during pregnancy and after birth with up to one in five women – and up to one in 10 dads affected. Symptoms include depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders and postpartum psychosis.

It means that in Wales more than 6,000 new mothers every year will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the 12 months following the birth of their child. If left untreated, these conditions can have a devastating impact on women and their families, making it harder for parents to provide the care babies need for healthy social, intellectual and emotional development.

As the NSPCC launches its new campaign, Fight for a Fair Start, which calls for improved perinatal mental health provision, the charity has highlighted that Wales’s seven health boards have just one specialist health visitor and four specialist perinatal mental health midwives between them.

These roles can offer vital early help and continuity of care to mums and their families affected by perinatal mental health problems and help reduce demands on other services which have to support parents suffering problems.

The charity has also highlighted that new mothers experiencing the most severe perinatal mental health conditions are not able to access appropriate inpatient care in Wales because there is no mother and baby unit. Instead, women who need specialist inpatient care are either admitted for treatment in adult psychiatric wards – where they may be separated from their child – or in mother and baby units in England.

Launching Fight for a Fair Start today (19 July) NSPCC Cymru has called for:

  • Dedicated specialist perinatal mental health midwives and health visitors in each health board area, to help identify and support women and their families affected by perinatal mental health problems.
  • All women and their families to be able to access a mother and baby unit in Wales.
  • Greater investment in specialist services to ensure that all women and their families can access high quality specialist perinatal mental health services, wherever they live in Wales

Dr Sarah Witcombe-Hayes, Senior Policy Researcher at NSPCC Wales, said: “New mums and dads in Wales are still not receiving the mental health support that they need to give their babies the best start in life. Experiencing perinatal mental health problems can make it harder for parents to provide the sensitive and responsive care that babies need at such an important time, and that is why it is so crucial to have the right support in place for families.

“Access to this vital support should not be dependent upon where you live. Having at least one specialist mental health midwife and specialist perinatal mental health visitor in each health board in Wales would be a significant step towards ensuring that these problems are identified early and mums and their families receive the best care.

“Greater investment is also needed. The Welsh Government must make sure that all women and their families affected by the most serious problems can access potentially lifesaving treatment and support from a mother and baby unit in Wales when they need it.”

North Wales mum Sally Wilson developed postpartum psychosis in 2015 just days after the birth of her daughter Ella but was unable to access the locally-based help she needed such as a mother and baby unit. She said: “I experienced delusions, hallucinations and I was terrified I had harmed Ella but I was admitted to a general adult psychiatric unit, which was scary and traumatic, while Ella went home with my partner.

“In North Wales there weren’t any specialist perinatal mental health teams and no specialist mother and baby unit with the nearest two hours away in England. It took me a long time to access the correct treatment and not only did this have an impact on my recovery but it also affected early bonding with Ella.

“In the absence of specialist help, I was fortunate that my partner’s research background meant he was able to investigate evidence-based treatment options, I appreciate that is not the case for everyone. I also relied heavily on the charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis to help me recover. Ultimately, this saved my life.”

Dr Jess Heron, CEO of Action on Postpartum Psychosis added that they supported the NSPCC Campaign. She said: “Most women who develop Postpartum Psychosis will need admission to a specialist Mother and Baby Unit. It is not right that women who become ill in Wales have to be admitted far away from their families in England, or risk being separated from their infant.

“Psychiatric illness is the leading cause of maternal death in the postpartum year in the UK. We fully endorse the call made by NSPCC for women to have immediate access to a mother and baby unit within a reasonable distance of their home if they need it, and to have access to specialist care within perinatal mental health teams wherever they live.”

The NSPCC campaign has been supported by Jo Malone London who also fund direct services to new and prospective parents, focussing on supporting parents with their mental health problems to help them develop secure and healthy relationships with their children.

The NSPCC is inviting people to join the campaign by raising their voice and signing the Fight for a Fair Start petition.

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RNLI crew offer assistance to casualties on board yacht

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ST DAVIDS’ Tamar class lifeboat launched at 7.42am on July 17 to a 11m yacht approximately nine miles west of St Davids Head.

There were four people on board, three of which were suffering from severe sea sickness. The skipper of the vessel was unfamiliar with the area.
The RNLI lifeboat escorted the casualty to the calmer water of Ramsey Sound and put two volunteer crew members on board to check the condition of the crew and assist with mooring the vessel.

The all-weather lifeboat was re-housed by 10.30am

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