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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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Police officer was assaulted on Christmas Day

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A 25-YEAR-OLD woman from Haverfordwest appeared before the town’s magistrates on Tuesday (Jan 15) to face a charge of assault by beating against a police officer.

Tiffany Rowlands, of West Court, pleaded guilty to assaulting PC Gareth Potter on Christmas Day.

Prosecutor, Sian Vaughan said: “The officer was at the defendant’s property searching the childrens’ bedrooms.

“Rowlands pushed the officer to the chest, and after she calmed down apologised following the incident.”

Defence solicitor, Mark Layton, said: “There’s no record of any injury. They were upstairs, the lights were off so it was dark, and she realises it was wholly inappropriate.”

Magistrates fined Rowlands £40 for the offence and ordered her to pay £85 prosecution costs and £30 victim surcharge.

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Milford Haven: Booms to be removed following oil spill

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BOOMS installed earlier this month to contain an oil spill in the Milford Haven waterway will be removed tomorrow (Jan 17).

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and partner agencies have continued to survey the affected areas since the incident on 3 January and are satisfied that they have contained as much oil as possible.

Where oil has been found on local beaches, Valero’s clean up team have removed it under advice of NRW officers.

The investigation into how this incident, and the previous oil spill in December 2018, happened is ongoing.

Following further assessments and an inspection of the affected fuel pipelines, Valero now believe that no more than 500 litres of oil was released during the incident on 3 January – significantly less than originally feared.

But the pipelines will remain closed after NRW took action last week to suspend their use. NRW will not allow Valero to reopen the pipelines until it is satisfied they can operate without causing further damage to the local environment.

Andrea Winterton, Operations Manager from Natural Resources Wales, said: “Following a swift response from everyone involved, much of the pollution has been contained and cleaned up quickly, reducing the impact it could have had on wildlife and the environment.

“Along with our partners, we will continue to monitor the situation and will respond to any further reports of oil washing ashore in the coming weeks.

“Valero continue to support our efforts and cooperate with our enquiries into how the incidents happened. Our investigation also continues as we consider what further action we need to take to stop this happening again.”

NRW is asking people who live in the area to report any signs of pollution to their 24/7 incident hotline on 03000 65 3000.

The multi-agency response to this incident has involved the following organisations: NRW, Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Milford Haven Port Authority, Marine and Coastguard Agency, Public Health Wales, Food Standards Agency.

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Fishguard: Sex offender caught trying to flee to Ireland

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A sex offender from Bow Street near Aberystwyth who tried to move to Ireland without telling anyone has been jailed.

Dennis Bull, aged 67, was caught trying to drive a van onto the Fishguard–Rosslare ferry with his belongings in the back ready for a new life in the Republic.

Bull, of Nirmit, admitted failing to comply with the conditions of registration as a sex offender and was jailed for 16 months.

Dyfed Thomas, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court it was the third time he had breached the order, imposed at Caernarfon crown court in February, 2016, for possessing indecent images of children.

That conviction was on top of earlier offending in New Zealand that included indecent exposure, outraging public decency and gross indecency with a child.

Mr Thomas said Bull had been jailed for 16 months in 2016 and ordered to register with the police. The restrictions imposed included a requirement to tell the police if he intended to change address.

On November 13 last year police at Fishguard harbour became aware of a Ford Mondeo registered to Bull.

A few minutes later Bull was arrested as he attempted to drive a van onto the Stenna ferry, which was loaded with household items.

Bull told the police he had made arrangements to move to Ireland “lock, stock and barrel” because he understood the monitoring of sex offenders was less strict.

In particular, said Mr Thomas, Bull did not like prospective employers being told about his convictions.

Judge Geraint Walters told Bull, “This was a planned and determined attempt to avoid detection. It was only the eagle eyes of the authorities that brought you to book.

“Your record is troubling and you present a risk of committing more offences of a sexual nature.

 “You are defiant of court orders that are there to protect others and it is truly disturbing that you are so keen to breach them.”

Bull was warned that the 2016 order remained in place for a further seven years.

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