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Director claims she did not receive email about fiddled test results

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THE COUNCIL’S Director for Children and Schools did not have an email which quoted her saying ‘little was to be gained’ from investigating a complaint that pupils’ test results had been fiddled with.

It was revealed at Thursday’s (Jul 12) Audit Committee that the person who sent the email had met with the Director, Mrs Kate Evan-Hughes, to discuss the matter.

Mrs Evan-Hughes did not deny that she had used those words but when questioned she said she did not have the email as she had not been copied in.

The email was sent in response to Saundersfoot School’s new headteacher who referred the matter to a member of the council’s education workforce just ten days after taking up his post.

He was told that there was ‘little to be gained’ from an investigation and that he may want to re-test the pupils.

However, in 2017, an Education Workforce Council (EWC) hearing found that the former headteacher of Saundersfoot School, Mrs Helen Lester, had falsified pupils’ test results in a bid to make the school look better.

Cllr Jacob Williams raised the matter under an urgent question at the December 2017 Full Council meeting where he was told that a referral had been made in 2015 but that it was not taken further.

When a second complaint was made it was dealt with and Cllr Williams is now seeking answers as to why the first complaint was swept under the carpet.

The matter has been discussed by the Council’s Audit Committee and it was the request of members at their meeting in January that the Director for Children and Schools, Kate Evan-Hughes, be invited to attend the next meeting.

However, she did not attend the March meeting and members again requested that she be ‘required’ to attend the next meeting.

On Thursday, Cllr Williams said: “The new headteacher, within 10 days of taking up the post, reported to the council his concerns about the test results.

“I am not aware of what that report to the council says but he was told that there no need for it to be investigated.

“In June 2016, there were two more disclosures made to the council and Mr Westley and I am satisfied that the right things happened then. It is the handling of the first referral that I am interested in.”

The Director for Children and Schools, Kate Evan-Hughes said: “It was a verbal referral to a member of the education directorate, there was a low-level investigation and it is accepted that the robustness of that investigation was not adequate.”

Cllr Williams asked about the nature of the referral and Mrs Evan-Hughes said that the person referring the matter was concerned that results were questionable.

Cllr Williams asked if there was a suspicion that the results had been fiddled but Mrs Evan-Hughes said there was an implied criticism of the previous headteacher.

At the last meeting, Cabinet member for education, Cllr David Lloyd said that no evidence had been provided to substantiate those concerns.

Cllr Williams added that the new headteacher was told in an email that ‘little was to be gained from an investigation’ and that it seemed they were trying to sweep the matter ‘under the carpet’.

Kate Evan-Hughes said there had been inadequacies in the past but that the service was more robust now.

Cllr Williams asked who had sent the email but the Council’s legal officer, Clair Incledon, intervened saying the Director had no knowledge of that.

Chief Executive Ian Westley also stepped in saying that the answer would be of a personal nature.

Cllr Williams said that Senior Challenge advisor Paul Hughes had sent the email which also said that he had met with the director who said she felt there was ‘little to be gained’ by an investigation.

Mrs Evan-Hughes said she did not have the email as she had not been copied in.

Mr Westley again stepped in saying the debate was starting to sound like a trial adding that the matter had been dealt with thoroughly by an internal investigation.

Cllr Williams said it was not a matter where the council could say it has been dealt with and added that because the officer was of such seniority the public deserved to know what happened.

He went on to say that some pupils’ scores were lower when they were re-tested and that Mrs Lester was subsequently employed by the council after she retired from her post at Saundersfoot School.

Cllr Williams concluded by saying he hoped that the Chief Executive could see that there were aggravating features in the case which didn’t look good and which could have created a perception there was a ‘cover-up’.

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Newgale: New £30m road proposed to combat coastal damage

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has revealed a preferred new route for a road around Newgale today (Sept 25) at an event in Roch.

The new stretch of road would begin at Pencym and end at a new roundabout near Roch.

A new route is needed due to fears about road closures during high tides and winds, as well as coastal damage caused by global warming.

Reports have suggested that the current Newgale road may not exist in 20 years times.

The new route could cost up to £30m – compared to £40m a proposed viaduct would cost – and would need funding from the Welsh Government.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Transport officials will continue to work closely with the authority as they progress with their studies and firm up their proposals for addressing the current problems with the A487.

“Welsh Government is open to consider an application for funding to move forward the development work.”

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MP calls on Welsh Government to explain broadband delays

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STEPHEN CRABB has called on the Welsh Government to come clean over broadband rollout delays.

Minister Julie James AM, whose responsibilities include digital infrastructure and inclusion, has been urged to explain the reasons for delays to the rollout of superfast broadband to rural properties across Wales.

Last year, the Superfast Cymru scheme saw BT receive £425m in return for connecting the vast majority of premises in Wales to next-generation broadband.

When the contract ended, 90,000 mainly rural properties still had not been connected. Further details of another scheme to complete the work were due to be announced in July, but at the start of August, Julie James AM suddenly announced that ‘unforeseen issues’ were causing delays which could not be further discussed because of ‘commercial confidentiality’.

Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said: “It’s simply unacceptable for the Minister responsible to announce delays to the next stage of Broadband rollout but refuse to explain why. Access to reliable, fast broadband is of increasing importance to businesses, large and small, in Pembrokeshire and I have worked with many across the constituency to improve their broadband access.

“However, the digital divide continues to exist with rural communities in Pembrokeshire suffering again. It is an inescapable fact that delivery of broadband infrastructure is devolved to the Welsh Government and Julie James AM should now come forward and explain the reasons for these delays.”

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Air ambulance lands at ‘serious’ crash scene

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THE WALES AIR AMBULANCE has landed at the scene of a serious crash this morning (Sept 25) between the Sentry Cross and Honeyborough roundabouts on the A477.

Posts on Facebook from witnesses at the scene say a man is being treated by paramedics.

Police have said one car was involved in the incident.

In addition to the helicopter, Dyfed-Powys Police, the Welsh Ambulance Service and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service are at the scene.

The road is currently closed with diversions in place.

A police spokesperson said:  “Dyfed-Powys Police is at the scene of a serious RTC between the Sentry Cross and Honeyborough roundabouts, Pembrokeshire.

“The A477 stretch between those roundabouts is currently closed while emergency services deal with the incident. One car is involved; the driver has received serious injuries.

“No further information is available at this time.”

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