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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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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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