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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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Council’s cannon stolen from outside Cleddau Bridge Hotel

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A LARGE cannon has been stolen from the now closed Cleddau Bridge Hotel in Pembroke Dock in the last few days.

A local councillor and the police have appealed for information which will lead to the safe return of the gun.

Ward councillor Joshua Beynon said: “Dyfed-Powys Police have just telephoned me to say they are investigating the cannon that was stolen from the former Cleddau Bridge Hotel. It is believed to have gone missing sometime between the evening of Wednesday 20th March to the morning of Thursday 21st March.”

The police said in a statement: “If anyone has any information then can I urge you to call the police on 101 and quote the crime number: DPP/0064/21/03/2019/01/C as soon as possible.”

The cannon, one of two dug up from the ground at Hobbs Point and later restored, used to stand outside Llanion Park, the former offices of South Pembrokeshire District Council, which is now the head office of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The canon is the property of Pembrokeshire County Council and was given to the hotel on loan.

The hotel’s management neglected to make arrangements for its return to the local authority on closing down.

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How to get a refund for unused Cleddau Bridge tickets after April 1

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has announced details on how it plans to refund Cleddau Bridge users left with unused books of bridge tickets after it becomes toll-free.
From 1st April until 30th June refunds will be available from the Cleddau Bridge office itself and the North Wing Customer Service Centre in County Hall, Haverfordwest.
Refunds for all three classes of tickets will be available at the Cleddau Bridge office.

The classes are:

Class A blue-coloured tickets (for motorcycles)
Class B red tickets (cars and light commercial vehicles)
Class C orange tickets (HGVs).

Refunds at the office will be available round-the-clock from 12 noon on 1st April and will be paid – wherever possible – back to the original debit/credit cards up to a maximum of £150 with cash refunds up to £30.

Any refunds over £150 will be made by BACS transfer unless otherwise agreed in advance.

Only Class B red tickets will be refunded at the North Wing Customer Service Centre in Haverfordwest.

Here, refunds will be paid back to the original debit/credit card up to a maximum of £90 (ie three books of 50 tickets)

The maximum cash refund at this location will be £30 (ie one book of 50 tickets).

Refunds at the North Wing Customer Service Centre will be available weekdays between 9 am and 1 pm and 2 pm until 5 pm.

Organisations which have previously purchased tickets with a value exceeding £400 will be contacted during the week commencing Monday, 25th March with instructions on how to reclaim their refunds on an appointment basis at the Cleddau Bridge office.

The County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Paul Miller, said: “I am delighted to announce that bridge users who have unused tickets due to the cessation of tolls will be reimbursed and not find themselves out of pocket.”
Those who qualify for refunds are asked to wait a few days before making a claim so as to avoid a long wait. This particularly applies to refunds at the Cleddau Bridge office.

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Council issue ‘rave alert’ to farmers, landowners and local communities

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL and Dyfed-Powys Police are asking farmers, landowners and local communities to be on alert over the coming weekend (23rd and 24th March) for warning signs of any illegal raves planned for their land.

Any suspicious activity should be reported immediately to the police, especially if there are unusual numbers of vehicles – in particular, camper vans, vans or trucks – seen in the locality.

Illegal trespassers may recce sites in advance of any rave, or people may approach landowners and ask around for land, in the guise of hiring it for acceptable activities such as gymkhanas or scout camps.

Raves can cause anxiety to the community they are held in and, if not dealt with swiftly, are difficult to stop due to the sheer numbers of people involved. There is also a safety concern involved in breaking up such events.

Anyone with concerns should call Dyfed Powys Police on 101 and ask to speak to the Duty Sergeant or Duty Inspector at Haverfordwest Police Station.

Alternatively, please call Pembrokeshire County Council’s out-of-hours service on 01437 775522.

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