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‘We are living in a constant state of fear’, says Haverfordwest High teacher

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SCHOOLS in the county of Pembrokeshire are currently in crisis, according to a serving secondary school teacher.

The member of staff at Haverfordwest High VC School has spoken to The Herald under condition of anonymity to expose the scale of the problem.

The morale of teachers in some schools locally is “at an all time low”, this newspaper has been told.

In a brutally honest interview, in which the school is described as a ‘hell hole’, our source said that it is the view of many local teachers that the awful state of our education needs to be addressed urgently.

What our source said will shock parents across the county: “Our local schools are in a crisis right now. As a teacher I’ve never felt more fear in walking the corridors. We are literally paralysed to do anything about it. We are told all the time that it is our fault, teachers are living in a constant state of fear!”

Our teacher told us: “I can honestly say that I have wished that I would be in a car crash just to not go into work,” adding “It’s a crisis which stems from teachers being left to deal with everything with no back up at all.”

“I honestly think that Pembrokeshire County Council are failing our education system so badly. Look at what happened in Milford School on Friday (Jan 11), it’s happening all over but we are glossing over it!”

We asked if there were other teachers who felt the same, and we were told “Literally all of us”.

“Milford Haven School is in a crisis at the moment but Haverfordwest High VC School is not far behind – I do not know a single teacher who is happy.”

Welsh champion beatboxer, Mr Phormula, came to inspire Haverfordwest High School pupils in December (Pic: School)

Police called to Milford School

The comments come on the same day that police were called to Milford Haven School after a student was attacked by four others while many others stood by cheering the attackers on.

Hundreds of people are involved in debates on social media about the incident, and the initial report on The Herald website was shared over 600 times in just an hour.

The Council have confirmed that staff members called in the police. A video circulating on social media seems to show four male pupils attacking one boy, and stamping on him and kicking him.

The clip, which is nearly a minute long, appears to show a large number of pupils gathering around watching the boy being attacked.

Pembrokeshire County Council have confirmed that staff members called in the police at Milford Haven School this afternoon (Jan 11) following a disturbance.

A video circulating on social media seems to show four male pupils attacking one boy, and stamping on him and kicking him.

The clip, which is nearly a minute long, appears to show a large number of pupils gathering around watching the boy being attacked.

At around 44 seconds into the video teachers can be heard arriving on the scene.

A worried Mum, thought to be the mother of the boy who was attacked, said on Facebook: “This video shows at least four of the boys jumping and stamping on him in school. After being assured they were being dealt with… Gangs aren’t hard – one-on-one we will see how hard they think they are. Silly boys.”

A spokesman for Pembrokeshire County Council told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “The Council can confirm that police were called to Milford School today in order to minimise disruption to the learning of other pupils.”

Milford Haven School: Police were called to disturbance on Friday (Jan 11)

A troubled recent history

The council was placed in special measures following an inspection in October 2012 by the education watchdog Estyn into education services for children and young people.
In June 2014 it had been taken out of special measures after education watchdog Estyn said “significant progress” had been made.

The Estyn report said at the time: “The Chief Executive, Leader and senior officers took difficult and sensitive decisions to remove barriers to progress in order to bring about the necessary improvement.
“These decisions were implemented carefully and have resulted in a complete restructure within the Pembrokeshire Children and Schools Service. A new management team is working closely together as a cohesive group to embed change.
“The Authority now engages well with the regional consortium. Joint working arrangements with regional partners have strengthened the Authority’s capacity to challenge and support its schools.
“There is a significant change in culture within the Authority demonstrated through greater openness and transparency. The Authority’s vision and expectation for its education services are communicated clearly to schools and other partners.
“Officers and elected members have shown a willingness to work constructively with inspection, audit and regulatory bodies to identify and address shortcomings. They demonstrate a firm commitment to implement change and have an appetite for further improvement.”

But by July 2014, only weeks later, inspectors decided to take action at Tasker Milward Voluntary Controlled School in Haverfordwest after raising concerns on a visit

The previous year, education inspections body Estyn ranked the school as “adequate” and called for improvements.

A monitoring team on a follow-up visit found performance had decreased in some areas.

The 2014 visit highlighted poor performance, particularly in Key Stage 4 at the school which had around 1,100 pupils aged 11-18.

Estyn fully acknowledged the positive improvements over the two month period but they considered that there had been insufficient improvement over the preceding 12 months

In July 2016 Sir Thomas Picton School was placed in special measures by Estyn following a monitoring visit which concluded insufficient progress had been made against recommendations made in January the previous year.

The supervision by the Welsh Government lasted until April 2018.

As the special measures were lifted, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, David Lloyd, said: “This is the news we have been waiting for.
“It confirms that the bespoke support provided by the local authority and the regional consortium has been effective.
“I would also like to acknowledge the strong leadership provided by the governing body and the Acting Headteacher to bring about this success.”

The news was also welcomed by the Authority’s Director for Children and Schools, Kate Evan-Hughes.

She added: “I am delighted to see the progress made by all staff governors and pupils at the school. I would like to thank everyone for their commitment and look forward to this continuing into Haverfordwest VC High School.”

But the question is, has it?

Head of Year off with stress

Our teacher at Haverfordwest High VC School went onto explain to us that parents very often blame the teachers, and that management do so too.

Our source added: “When teachers strike about how they are being treated the Council blame them! It’s unfair; we have no say in education at all but get blamed for all its failings.

We had a group of Year 9 pupils, who surrounded a Head of Year (who has been teaching for 30 odd years) in his car, swearing and demanding he given them back a phone he had confiscated. When the parents were brought in to discuss what happened their response was ‘Well he shouldn’t have taken the phone in the first place!’

“It’s unbelievable and he got no backing from School Leadership Team – so the Head of Year was then off for about a month due to the stress it caused.

“We’ve already lost two dedicated members of staff (who had been at Tasker Milward for years) in the first term. They left at Christmas because they hated the new school so much.

“I honestly think if you asked for staff members from all schools in Pembrokeshire to message you their stories and can promise that it will be anonymous you’d be inundated!”

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “The NASUWT is being inundated with teachers that are reporting assaults happening to them on a daily basis.

“No teacher or other worker should go to work with an expectation that they should tolerate violence and abuse.

“Where violence occurs, employers should adopt a zero tolerance approach and send a strong message to parents, pupils and the community that violence against school staff is completely unacceptable.””

Haverfordwest High VC School was created by the merging of Tasker Milward and Sir Thomas Picton Schools (Pic PCC)

 

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High value items stolen in Llangwm burglary

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POLICE are appealing for witnesses to a high value burglary at a home in The Kilns, Haverfordwest, and have released an electronic image of a man they would like to speak to in connection with the incident.

The front door of a house was forced open and entry gained some time between 8am and 3.35pm on June 6.

Around £300 in cash, two iPads, two blue tooth speakers, an iPod, GoPro camera, a white gold wedding ring with diamonds worth around £800, a diamond and pearl necklace worth between £3,000 and £4,000, a fob watch, Zeiss First World War binoculars, and a Nintendo Switch were stolen.

Through enquiries, it has been established that two men were seen in the area at the time, who might have information that could help the investigation.

An electronic image of one of the men has been created.

They were described as two men in their mid-40s with blonde hair in a short back and sides style. They had gaunt faces with prominent cheek bones, and were slim and tanned.

The older looking of the two was wearing dark navy safety trainers, black cargo trousers and a long-sleeved dark shirt with a dark grey lightweight body warmer over the top.

The younger had similar clothing, and was carrying a Morrisons bag for life.

They were seen walking down the Sardis road; between the lane for Rosemarket and the Troopers Inn crossroads.

Officers are urging anyone who has been offered any of these items for sale, anyone who can help identify the men described, or anyone who saw any suspicious behaviour in The Kilns on June 6 or the days prior, to call Dyfed-Powys Police on 101.

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Pembrokeshire Coast project in exciting UK partnership launch

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FIVE of the UK’s National Parks, including the Pembrokeshire Coast, are running major conservation projects as part of an exciting new partnership launched this week between the National Parks and Clif Bar.

These projects, under the new National Parks Protectors Fund, are funded by Clif Bar, which has a long history of supporting environmental schemes in the USA and Canada. However, this is the first time the company – which sells a range of energy bars for active lifestyles – has worked in the UK.

In the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park the pilot project – entitled ‘Paths, Pollinators and People’ which involves the creation of a new Pollinator Warden role, aims to enhance the biodiversity alongside a lengthy section of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, from Newgale to Abereiddi.

This project is the first step towards a longer-term aim of maintaining the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in a way that improves biodiversity and wildlife interest for visitors, whilst at the same time ensuring its quality as a National Trail.

The Pembrokeshire Coast is the only Welsh National Park to have a Clif Bar supported project but all 15 UK Parks will benefit. Those not running a special project will receive a smaller grant to support their choice of conservation work during the year.

Tegryn Jones, Chief Executive of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, said: “The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is one of the world’s finest long-distance walking routes, attracting one million visitors every year. The support of Clif Bar will make a vital contribution to improving the biodiversity of such an iconic stretch of the Coast Path.”

Catherine Hawkins, Chair of National Parks Partnerships, said: “Clif Bar is really stepping up to help the UK National Parks to protect and conserve their precious landscapes. The National Parks work year-round on projects that protect and conserve important habitats and wildlife. But with so much work to do, we need the support of partners like Clif Bar to help protect these landscapes for now and the future.”

David Smith, Senior Marketing Manager at Clif Bar Europe, added: “Clif Bar is a purpose-led company committed to sustaining five bottom lines. These are our Five Aspirations – sustaining our business, brands, people, community and planet. Our partnership with the UK National Parks truly embodies these aspirations by supporting the communities we live in and the planet we share. We are confident that the projects supported through the UK National Parks Protectors Fund will help ensure that these outstanding landscapes we are so lucky to share with nature are available for generations to visit and enjoy.”

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Missing man’s anorak and walking stick found on coastal path

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Reginald Davies has been missing since June 14

AN ANORAK and a walking stick believed to belong to a missing man from Pembrokeshire have been found near a coastal path.

The search for a Reginald Davies has now entered its fifth day, after he was reported missing shortly after 9.30am on Friday morning (Jun 14).

Sniffer dogs and a police helicopter have been involved in the search, along with the coastguard, mountain rescue teams, and the RNLI.

The 70 year old Mr Davies went missing from his home in the village of Newport, and his family are now “increasingly concerned for his welfare.”

Police are continuing their search and are appealing to the public for help.

They describe Mr Davies as being around 5ft 6ins tall and of slight build. He has short black hair and wears glasses.

He is known to frequent the coastal path near his home and the Parrog area of Newport. Police have confirmed on Tuesday that a walking stick and an anorak – believed to belong to Mr Davies – have been found near the path.

He does not have access to a car so is believed to have left his home on foot.

Anyone who has seen Mr Davies or has any information regarding his whereabouts is asked to contact Dyfed-Powys Police by calling 101.

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