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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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16 monochrome TV licences still in Pembrokeshire

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NEW figures released by TV Licensing show that after more than 50 years of colour transmissions, 16 black and white TV Licences are still in force in Pembrokeshire.

More than 300 households in Wales are still watching television via black and white TV sets, rather than enjoying critically acclaimed shows like The Bodyguard, McMafia and Killing Eve, in full colour.

Despite an increase in the use of smart televisions, as well as tablets and smart-phones to access TV content, a surprising number of Welsh households are spurning 21st Century technology in favour of nostalgic monochrome TV sets.

According to this year’s figures, Cardiff leads the way with 43 black and white licences, followed by Carmarthenshire with 28 monochrome licences and Monmouthshire with 23 monochrome licences.

The number of black and white licences issued each year has, however, steadily been declining. In 2000 there were 212,000 black and white TV Licences in force, but by 2003 that number had shrunk to 93,000. By 2015, the number had dipped below 10,000.

Fay Jones, a spokesperson for TV Licensing, said: “Over half of the UK’s TVs now connect to the internet, so it’s interesting that more than 300 households in Wales still choose to watch their favourite shows on a black and white telly.

“Whether you watch EastEnders, Strictly or Question Time in black and white on a 50-year-old TV set or in colour on a tablet, you need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record programmes as they are broadcast. You also need to be covered by a TV Licence to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, on any device.”

Find when one is needed at: www.tvlicensing.co.uk/info

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Neyland: Mother issues warning after boy ‘grabbed by hooded man’

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THE MOTHER of a boy who was grabbed by a ‘hooded man’ in the street on Tuesday evening (Nov 13) in Neyland has warned other parents to be vigilant.

Sarah Hibbert said that her son was grabbed by a man at approximately 8:05pm, but thankfully managed to get away.

Posting a warning on Facebook, Sarah said: “Just feel I should make people in Neyland aware.. my son was on his way home tonight at about 8:05 and got grabbed from behind by a man with a hood up in Riga Avenue.

“He managed to shove him off and run home, he’s not hurt but he was pretty shaken.

“The police have been informed. I don’t want to spook everyone but this is a scary incident and I feel people should be aware.”

After being shared over 400 times, she added that police are now involved and taking the incident seriously.

She added: “The police are taking it seriously and have said that there will be extra patrols in the area.”

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “Police received a report of a suspicious incident which occurred at approximately 8pm on Tuesday 13th November 2018 in Riga Avenue, Neyland.

“A boy in his mid-teens reported that a man had taken hold of his arm from behind. The boy ran off. Nothing was said and the boy was not injured.

“The man is described at approximately 6ft tall, average build and wearing a dark coloured coat with the hood up.

“Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact Milford Haven Police by phoning 101.”

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50,000 homes to have different bin collections over Christmas

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PEMBROKESHIRE households are being urged to sign up for Pembrokeshire County Council’s free notification service as the countdown to Christmas begins

The message comes after it was revealed almost 50,000 homes will be affected by changes planned for this year’s Christmas waste collections.

Households and businesses serviced by Pembrokeshire County Council’s waste collections scheduled for Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays will be affected as the new arrangements take place.

Monday collections remain unchanged.

With no waste or recycling collections scheduled for Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day, collections will be pushed back for two days in Christmas week and one day the following week, resulting in some collections taking place on Saturdays and Sundays.

‘Notify’ sends an E-mail or SMS text message to service users the day before their next collection is due telling them what bins to put out on the kerbside.

Over 4,000 text messages have already been sent out to registered users.

Cabinet Member for Environment and Welsh Language, Councillor Cris Tomos says the service is invaluable for householders, particularly over the festive season.

“With around 80% of us having waste collections on days we are not used to over the Christmas period, this service helps householders avoid confusion.

“With no waste collections scheduled for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day we are collecting a day or two later than normal.

“Rescheduling collections in this way results in an increase of just one or two days between collections whereas the previous system could result in longer periods without a collection for some.

“The new method means we will collect two days later than normal following Christmas and Boxing Day and one day later than normal following New Year’s Day.

“This is a better system for Householders and service users who register for ‘Notify’ will avoid any confusion given the service tells them when their next collection is and what bins will be collected and I encourage all householders to sign up.

For more information and to sign up for weekly waste reminders visit www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/notify

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