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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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New Eco Feature For Haverfordwest

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Plans have been submitted for a ‘living green wall’ to be planted in the centre of Haverfordwest in a bid to enhance local biodiversity and wildlife.

The green wall would be situated alongside the river opposite Glan-yr-Afon, the town’s library and cultural centre, and planted with 25 species of native plants including ferns, grasses, flowers and wild herbs including basil, sage and clary.

As well as providing an important habitat for pollinators, the wall would also be an attractive natural feature in its own right, says Sara Morris, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Development Plans and Conservation Manager.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to re-introduce nature in the heart of Haverfordwest,” she said. “As with all planting, it will take some time for the plants to grow and flourish but given time it will look very attractive.”

The maintenance of the wall, which is scheduled for installation towards the end of October, would be carried out by a team of volunteers. New benches made from Welsh slate would also be installed to encourage residents and visitors to enjoy spending time in the area.

The green wall is part of the Cleddau Reaches partnership project which forms one of the priorities in the Haverfordwest Regeneration framework.

The Cleddau Reaches partners are Pembrokeshire County Council, the Bridge Meadow Trust, Haverfordwest Town Council, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Haverfordwest Kayak Club.

Pembrokeshire College and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority have also supported the project.

The aim is to improve and enhance the rights of way network in and around Haverfordwest and in particular, around the Western Cleddau, through several different inter-linked schemes.

Grant funding of approximately £250,000 has been provided by the NRW, Haverfordwest Town Council and the Landfill Disposals Tax Community Scheme.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Leisure and Culture, says the project’s focus on the river follows recognition that for too long, it has been an under-utilised resource despite being one of the town’s key natural assets.

“The Cleddau Reaches project brings together many ideas which the community has put forward over the last 20 years,” he said.

“As well as boosting biodiversity, the project forms part of the wider package of investments we are bringing forward to support Haverfordwest Town Centre.

“This administration is determined to revive the fortunes of the County Town, transforming Haverfordwest Town Centre from a traditional retail centre that’s being left behind into a vibrant leisure destination where residents and visitors alike want to spend their time.”

Some of the work currently taking place as part of the Cleddau Reaches project includes new riverbank paths near the Bridge Meadow with plans to create a new footbridge connecting to the Old Mill Grounds.

Other plans include creating habitats for sand-martins, otters and lampreys upriver, creating a trail linking up with the Town Council’s Priory Saltings project, and installing five interpretation boards along the route describing the flora, fauna and history of the local area.

The green wall planning application is currently registered with Pembrokeshire County Council for determination.

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Homes in Pembrokeshire can get free boilers and insulation

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PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD is teaming up with Blackburn based company Euro Insulation, who are working on a Pembrokeshire County Council backed energy scheme called the ECO: Help to Heat programme.

The scheme intends to utilise government funding for the reduction of fuel poverty within the county.

The council says that it has worked for many years to improve homes locally, and is keen for as many households to sign up as possible.

The local authority is working with ECO energy installers.

Funding is only available for private owner occupiers and private rented tenants. Qualification of flexible eligibility in Pembrokeshire will be determined by certain criteria.

Grants are available to a range of households including those with someone aged over 60, with a child under 5, and homes with children in primary or secondary school, or with a pregnant mother.

The Pembrokeshire Herald is letting as many homeowners know as possible about the scheme and has a call centre open to take queries on behalf of Euro Insulation who will be doing the work.

The aim is to reduce C02 emissions and make homes more energy efficient in Wales.

They are with the Welsh Assembly Government to show homeowners how they can get a brand-new boiler, internal wall insulation and room-in-roof insulation

The funding is only available until December.

To be considered for a FREE boiler or INSULATION call our call centre on 01437 70 70 70

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Fishguard: Armed police presence at Fishguard port

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ARMED officers from Dyfed-Powys Police were on scene at the port in Fishguard this morning (Sept 18).

Border Force and the RNLI were involved in the operation, which reportedly involved a vessel being escorted into the harbour.

Details of the incident are still unfolding, and the police have been contacted for a statement.

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