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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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Pembrokeshire named the 5th best location in UK for shark spotting

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Hammerhead shark: Might be in UK waters within the next 30 years

IF you’re looking to do some shark spotting then Pembrokeshire has been named the 5th best location in the UK, according to National Geographic.

Hammerheads, blacktips and sand tiger sharks could be heading to UK shores, and may inhabit our coastal waters in the next 30 years as well, according to new research released this week.

The new study reveals Britain’s current and future shark population. It predicts that with the rise of sea temperatures and the impact of climate change, we could see non-indigenous species of sharks from the Mediterranean making their way to the British coastline by 2050. 

Britain’s top ten locations for shark spotting:

  1. Cornwall
  2. Scilly Isles
  3. Devon
  4. Isle of Wight
  5. Pembrokeshire
  6. Caernarfonshire
  7. Anglesey
  8. Isle of Man
  9. Argyllshire
  10. Inverness-shire

Nearly 8 in 10 (79%) recent shark sightings in the UK have been of the basking shark, although three sightings of blue sharks have been reported in the last two years off the British coast, as well as two sightings of porbeagle sharks, which are often mistaken for Great Whites.

Cornwall is the place where you are most likely to spot a shark, with 25 of UK sightings in the past two years taking place here.

In a survey of 2000 British adults by National Geographic, it was found that four in ten Brits admit to suffering an irrational fear of sharks while swimming in the sea.

And with a potential infiltration of sharks on the horizon, more than three quarters of Brits think we’re likely to see shark surveillance and prevention techniques, such as shark nets and shark spotting drones, being used off British coasts in the future.

Despite there being 40 different species of shark currently passing through British waters, more than half of British respondents can’t name more than two types of shark, while 11% can’t name even one shark species. Meanwhile, over 8 in 10 Brits think sharks have been given a bad reputation by the Hollywood film industry.

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Tenby: Police launch operation to lower crime over summer

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POLICE will be focusing on lowering crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour over the summer in Operation Lion.

The initiative involves Dyfed-Powys Police, British Transport Police, Arriva Trains Wales, Great Western Railway, Welsh Ambulance Service, Pembrokeshire Local Authority and local Licensees.

Under Operation Lion, which will run every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday in Tenby from July 21 to September 1, more police resources will be dedicated to the area to help cope with the increase of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour the town experiences over the summer.

Dyfed-Powys Police has worked with British Transport Police and Arriva Trains Wales to help people coming to Tenby by  train get to and from the town safely. Police officers from both forces will be on the trains and the platform on weekends, to help deal with the large numbers of people who use the service.

Tenby Inspector, Aled Davies, said: “Tenby is home to a variety of tourist attractions and events,  and experiences a huge boost in population over the summer months. The influx of visitors combined with the diversity of our patch brings challenges for us as a police force. This summer we are trying to help people enjoy our unique region by offering advice to help them do that.

“In the past we have seen a minority of people come to Tenby to visit the pubs and clubs,  who then cause trouble due to drinking too much alcohol. Very often some of these individuals have arrived by train already intoxicated, so by working closely with British Transport Police and Arriva Trains Wales we will be able to stop people from getting on the trains bound for Tenby in the first place, if their behaviour is not acceptable and they are drunk or under the influence of intoxicants.

“As well as extra officers at Tenby train station, there will be extra officers on foot patrol around the town from the early afternoon onwards. We are working closely with local businesses and the community to make sure Tenby continues to be a safe and popular destination for all to enjoy.

“We are very lucky to live and work in a place that people want to visit and we welcome visitors to the area to come and enjoy what is on offer. However,  we won’t put up with people behaving badly, causing anti-social behaviour(ASB) and ruining the fun for everyone. The police will be taking robust and positive action against any persons causing ASB, public disorder or committing any crime in Tenby over the Summer period.”

Sergeant Steve Dawkins of British Transport Police said:“Tenby is a fantastic place to visit during the summer, with an array of attractions and events, and we look forward to welcoming visitors using the railway. We want everyone to have a happy and safe Tenby Spectacular, and will do everything we can to help make this happen.

“People shouldn’t be concerned to see additional police officers on patrol during July and August, which is traditionally an extremely busy time on the rail network. Our officers will be on hand to help make sure revellers not only reach the festivities, but also get home again safely.

“While we don’t want to spoil anyone’s evening, we will not tolerate anti-social behaviour or any form of aggression towards rail staff. Anyone who is found to be unfit through alcohol will be refused travel and could find themselves in front of the court.

“Enjoy yourselves, enjoy the summer, enjoy Tenby and all it has to offer, but please remember to keep a clear head – alcohol and railways can be a dangerous cocktail.”

Security Manager at Arriva Trains Wales, Simon Turton said:“We’re looking forward to transporting lots of people to Tenby for what promises to be an excellent summer in the town.

“The most important thing from our point of view is getting people where they want to be safely and as such we will be working with our partners in British Transport Police and Dyfed Powys Police to ensure all our customers feel safe and secure on our services.

“Customers should plan their journeys carefully making a note of last train times and to expect some services to be busier than usual, particularly on event days and when the weather is particularly good.”

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Fishguard: Peaceful protest stands up for LGBTQ+ community

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A PROTEST was held in Fishguard yesterday afternoon (Jul 15) in response to a planned meeting which was intended to host anti-LGBTQ+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer) topics of conversation.

The meeting, organised by the group Evangelists Corner, had been advertised in the town via a leaflet which promoted anti-LGBTQ+ opinions.

The leaflet explained that the meeting would deal with the subject of same-sex marriage and transgender people, as well as their desire to stop teaching LGBTQ+ material in schools and replace it instead with creationism.

The protest was organised in response to the ‘homophobic’ message of the flyer and meeting agenda, and was well attended by various age groups and people of different sexual orientations.

Following the controversy caused by the leaflet, the meeting was cancelled, however the protest went on as planned to show ‘unity’ and ‘love’ which is strong in the community.

Police have received numerous official complaints about the literature and are now investigating.

Following the protest, two organisers of the protest, Matt Townsend and Jackie Jones, met with the spokesperson of the Evangelist group, John Fransham, at Fishguard police station.

There they discussed the issues raised in the literature – however Fransham defended the content of the flyer and the reasons for organising the meeting.

A spokesperson for Pembs LGBTQ Plus said after the event: “Thank you. This all too often is a gesture over-used, underappreciated, and haphazardly used. Today though, I use it with heart-felt appreciation for what you managed to achieve yesterday.

“Yesterday, you all did Pembrokeshire, the LGBTQ+ community and yourselves proud. We turned something that was extremely hurtful, upsetting and negative into something beautiful, positive and almost cathartic. To see you all united with a common goal sent a clear message: love overcomes hate.

“I spoke to many of you yesterday and felt privileged to hear individual stories, reasons for protesting and what yesterday meant to you. We have also been inundated with beautiful photographs. The adage reminds us that a photo says a thousand words – and many words were spoken.

“The public response to the weekend’s  events has been overwhelming. We have received messages of support, encouragement and love from many people at home and abroad. It is no exaggeration to say that your voices were heard globally. To think this happened from a small (and beautiful) town in Pembrokeshire is all the more humbling.

“I was invited to speak with the distributors at the police station yesterday. The police investigation is still ongoing. All I will say is that it was a very emotional dialogue and reaffirmed for me why we had to do what we did yesterday. As I said to the police and the distributors of the leaflet, we are not in any way protesting of their right to their own opinions. When this opinion does cross the line of law and has the potential to incite hatred and put at risk the safety of the LGBTQ+ community, then we have a duty to act.

“We have received a few messages and emails in the last 24 hours stating that the leaflet does nothing to incite hatred and/or violence. However, PembsLGBTQPlus challenges this. The content of the leaflet is such that it has the potential to incite hatred, to the extent that the police are investigating.”

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