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Milford Haven: Primary schools consider shutting at 12:15pm on Fridays

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PARENTS with pupils in many primary schools in Milford Haven have been told that a consultation is underway to see schools shut at 12:15pm on Fridays.

Already, parents have voiced concerns about the plans, which will see break times and lunch times shortened and lessons crammed into a longer school day on Monday to Thursday, with classes starting ten minutes earlier in the mornings.

One mother has told this newspaper that the earlier start and shorter rest times could affect children’s concentration and ability to learn in the afternoons.

A letter sent to parents in St Francis RC Primary School on Monday (Feb 18) states that the new timings are “an exciting time of change, and the shape of the New Curriculum for Wales.

The school says that the earlier finish time of a Friday “would enable pupils, parents and staff to benefit from improved wellbeing through increased family time”.

The school added that there would also be opportunities to benefit from long weekends to spend time with friends, or to engage in sport, hobbies or informal learning. It would also “further support parents who work in and run local businesses and mirror the flexibility in shift patterns shown by major employers in the local area e.g. the nine-day fortnight.”

But Tim Pratt, Director of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) Cymru says that it is an insufficiency of funding to Welsh schools is “likely to cause situations where some schools may decide to close early.”

There is currently a funding crisis in primary education in Wales and it is hard to think that a lack of money is not the reason for this change.

The proposed changes mean that staff training or inset time would increase from 23 hours per year to 61 hours a year.

Due to reduced play time and lunch breaks children’s teaching time would not be reduced.

SOUTH PEMBROKESHIRE

Pembroke Dock Community School and Ysgol Harri Tudur have both started closing early on Friday afternoons.

Ysgol Harr Tudur, a high school with around 1,500 pupils in Pembroke Dock, is open from 8.40am to 3.15pm Monday to Thursday. On Friday it shuts early with school running from 8.40am and stopping “formal learning” at 1.30pm.

It says on its website: “Our new school day includes an early finish on Fridays to allow for an extensive programme of pupil enrichment activities, whilst also enabling professional development time to support teachers.”

Pembroke Dock Community School opens at 08:45 on Fridays and shuts at 12:15pm on Fridays or 12:45pm for pupils staying for lunch.

The rest of the week it opens 8.45am with the school day ending at 3.15pm for early years and reception, 3.20pm for years one and two and 3.25pm for years three and up.

THE LEGAL ASPECT

Schools wanting to change opening and closing times must abide with the Changing of School Session Times (Wales) Regulations 2009, which includes a full consultation with, amongst others, staff, parents and the local authority.

Pembroke Dock Community School, consulted on shutting early in spring 2018. The local education authority said the main reason it gave at the time was: “To allow for additional time for staff training.”

The school added in its consultation letter: “This additional training time for staff would allow us to further upskill all staff in order to develop them into the best skilled workforce, with the aim to further improve teaching and learning for all the pupils…
“…an earlier finish time on a Friday would also enable pupils, parents and staff to benefit from improved wellbeing through increased family time. There would also be opportunities to benefit from long weekends to spend time with friends or engage with sport, hobbies and informal learning.
“It would further support our parents who run and work in local businesses and mirror the flexibility in shift patterns shown by major employers in the local area”.

There is no reference to cost saving in any of the school’s consultation correspondence but the time away from formal teaching would mean teachers had statutory time away from their classes in the week to prepare lessons. Otherwise this time out is funded by teaching assistants covering their lessons.

A Pembrokeshire County Councils spokesman told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We are aware that similar proposals are being considered elsewhere in Pembrokeshire, notably in the Milford Haven area.
“On the basis of consultation correspondence received to date, cost savings do not appear as reasons for the proposed changes.”

Tim Pratt, Director of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) Cymru, said he could not comment on schools shutting early in Pembrokeshire: “It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the decision of an individual school to close early because we don’t know the circumstances.
“However, in general, the insufficiency of funding to Welsh schools is likely to cause situations where some schools may decide to close early.
“This saves a small amount of money in terms of keeping premises open, and it means that with constrained staffing levels, schools are still able to allocate time for planning, preparation and assessment.
“The public can rest assured that schools will always take decisions in the best interests of their students and staff despite the very difficult funding conditions. But it is absolutely vital that the level of funding is improved as a matter of urgency.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “This is a decision for schools and governing bodies.
“Schools must fully consult before making any changes, ensuring that the number of teaching hours are not being compromised and that the curriculum is being delivered in its entirety.”

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Pembrokeshire residents can quickly check symptoms for variety of conditions on NHS 111 Wales online

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NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker can save Pembrokeshire patients time by helping them find the right NHS service for treatment. Symptoms can be quickly checked for a variety of conditions and advice given on the best way to treat them by visiting www.111.wales.nhs.uk which is hosted by the Welsh Ambulance Service.

The way we access NHS services has changed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with more options now becoming increasingly utilised, including the NHS 111 Wales online service which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be used for both health information and advice and to access urgent primary care in Welsh and English.

In a recent YouGov survey, a third of Pembrokeshire residents had not even heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker and only 19% had used it during the past 12 months.

Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are asking everyone to help us by reconsidering the way you access NHS services. The methods available have changed but we are still here for you. It is worth getting to know the different ways you can access the NHS so you can be seen and treated quicker with your first port of call being NHS 111 Wales.”

According to the YouGov survey, carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign, only 67% of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker. However, 86% said they felt it was important to have access to the service.   

NHS 111 Wales online can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. The way it works is: You answer questions about your symptoms on the website and depending on the situation you will:

  •           Get self-care advice
  •           Be told how to get any medicine you need
  •           Find out what local service can help you
  •           Be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  •           Get a face-to-face appointment if you need one
  •           Be given an arrival time if you need to go to A&E – this might mean you spend less time in A&E

For those who don’t have confidence going online to seek advice, there is the NHS 111 Wales phone service. This is also a free service where patients can contact the NHS by dialling 111 to receive advice on the best way to manage their issue or gain further assistance if needed. The bilingual telephone service is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Eighty-four percent of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales phone service when asked for the recent YouGov survey but only 20% had used the telephone service during the last 12 months.

 

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Trial date for son accused of killing mum

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THE SON of Judith Rhead, 68, who was found dead in her home in Market Street, Pembroke Dock on Feb 20 will now appear in Crown Court again in October.

Dale Morgan, 43, said to be a scout master, appeared in court only to confirm his name, date of birth and address – which was listed as Honeyborough Green, Neyland.

A plea and trial preparation hearing date was set for March 26 with a provisional trial date set for October 4.

He was remanded in custody.

In court papers it stated that the alleged murder took place between December 10, 2020 and February 21, 2021.

The paperwork demonstrates that the police are unsure of the exact date that Ms Rhead died. The large date range, two months, points to the likelihood that this will be a challenging case for all those involved.

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Launch of Haverfordwest Castle Conservation Management Plan

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MEMBERS of the public are being asked to help shape the future of Haverfordwest Castle as a draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is launched.

One of Pembrokeshire’s most important historical assets, the Castle is owned by Pembrokeshire County Council, which has produced the CMP.

The plan:

▪ sets out the significance of the castle and describes how the building will be protected with any new use, alteration, repair or management; 

▪ will help with the planning of maintenance, conservation and repair work and adaptation of the site to meet new or changing uses; 

▪ will help promote understanding of the site and look at improving public access and activities for local people and visitors; 

▪ will support proposals to conserve the castle and adaptations of the site in response to climate change; 

▪ and underpin funding applications to support improvements

An engagement exercise has been launched alongside the Plan, giving members of the public with an interest in the historic and/or environmental significance of the castle an opportunity to comment on the document and share their views.

To take part in the engagement exercise, please click on the following link: 

https://haveyoursay.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/regeneration-communities

The deadline for responses is Sunday, March 28, 2021.

 

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