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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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Milford Haven: Police called to Charles Street incident

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MILFORD HAVEN police responded to an emergency call from Charles Street in Milford Haven this afternoon (May 20).

Several officers attended following reports of a man injured on the pavement.

Our reporter at the scene said that a male was conscious but nursing injuries to his head

There are over 15 officers at the scene.

A male has been arrested and taken into custody in a police van.

 

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Willy make the council fix the road?

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DRIVERS in and around the Maenclochog area are still recovering today after a hardened vandal spray-painted yellow penises along a stretch of road near Morvil.
The road, just off the B4313, was targeted with graffiti because of the number of potholes scattered along it’s length.
Locals have dubbed the cock-sure artist as ‘Wanksy’ and have discovered that whoever drew the penises also wrote ‘Follow the yellow d### road’.
Some of the penises have been drawn around more sizeable potholes, but simply pointing disapprovingly at the smaller ones.
If you want to report a pothole, the chosen method is still via the Pembrokeshire County Council website.
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Hakin: Young male arrested following allegation of assault

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FIVE police vehicles descended on a property in Hakin at lunchtime today following a 999 call reporting an assault.

Officers entered the property in Observatory Avenue and after about ten minutes a young male was brought out in handcuffs.

A spokesman from the police press office told The Herald: “Police were called to Observatory Avenue to a report of an assault at around 1pm today (Monday, May 20).”

The spokesman added: “A 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assault and is currently in police custody.”

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