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Education Service removed from special measures

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cllr jamieTHE PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD can reveal that the County Council’s Education Service has been removed from special measures imposed in October 2012 and that issues raised then no longer require further follow-up. 

The Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council has welcomed the announcement that the Authority is no longer in special measures. Councillor Jamie Adams said the news was a significant milestone for the Authority. 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. A monitoring plan was subsequently agreed with Estyn and since then inspectors have visited the Council on two occasions to monitor progress. After the latest visit earlier this month, the inspection team judged that the Authority had made “sufficient progress” to be taken out of special measures. In June 2014, Mererid Stone HMI led a team of four inspectors to review the progress made by the authority against the remaining four of the seven recommendations arising from the October 2012 inspection. The team also considered the overall performance of the authority against its post-inspection action plan. The team held discussions with the leader of the council, elected members, the chief executive, senior officers and head teachers. Inspectors scrutinised documentation, including evidence on the progress made on each of Estyn’s recommendations. Pembrokeshire County Council is judged to have made sufficient progress in relation to the recommendations following the inspection of October 2012. As a result, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales considers that the local authority is no longer in need of special measures and is removing it from further follow-up activity. The Inspectorate has determined that the Council has largely addressed the failings which led to it being placed in special measures, including publishing findings that: • Elected members and the director of children and schools have worked well together to resolve difficulties in recruitment and retention of staff in social services. • The safeguarding overview and scrutiny committee provides good support and challenge to the cabinet member for safeguarding and to officers. • The authority has implemented comprehensive strategies for improvement in both key stages 2 and 4. In 2013 performance in these key stages declined in Pembrokeshire. Provisional figures for 2014 indicate that performance has improved in the Foundation Phase by over two percentage points and in key stage 2 by more than three percentage points. • The authority has substantially strengthened the team of system leaders. These officers now understand their role well and have clear guidelines to support their work. • Schools identified as causing concern have detailed action plans outlining clearly the actions to be taken • Through the revision of its Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP), the authority’s strategy to secure sufficient provision for Welshmedium education in the long term is more robust • The safeguarding scrutiny committee has made a strong contribution to the improvement in safeguarding practice in the children and schools service. It is now beginning to hold other services and partners to account for their safeguarding policies and procedures. • Partnership work concentrates appropriately on four areas where organisations can have the greatest impact by working together, for example reducing the proportion of young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). • The authority has significantly improved its approach to selfevaluation, developing a culture of openness and honesty about performance. The director for children and schools, along with his senior leadership team, leads by example in being robustly selfcritical about performance within the directorate and by inviting constructive challenge about performance. The Estyn report continues: ‘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.’ Councillor Adams said he was delighted with the outcome of the latest visit. “This is a very important day in the life of Pembrokeshire County Council and a significant moment in a long and sometimes painful journey, but one which we had to undertake. “Along the way weaknesses have been identified and addressed and substantial changes made to working practices. “The result is a more dynamic, transparent and outward-looking local Authority. This is just not my opinion but is also the view shared by the inspectors. “We remain committed to doing everything that can reasonably be expected to keep children in our County safe. Today’s decision by the inspectors formally acknowledges that they have confidence in our services. “I want to pay tribute to the senior officers and employees who have worked together with the Elected Members in bringing about this change which provides firm foundations for our education services.” Councillor Sue Perkins, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Safeguarding said the Council would continue to be firmly focused on improving outcomes for children. “We recognise that there is always need for further improvement and we will focus on what still needs to be done” she added. “However, this is a significant result for the children of Pembrokeshire, all of whom should have the opportunity of receiving the best education we can offer.”

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Buckingham palace announces Prince Philip’s funeral arrangements

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PRINCE PHILIP’S royal ceremonial funeral will take place April 17 at Windsor Castle — a slimmed-down service amid the COVID-19 pandemic that will be entirely closed to the public.

Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, took part in planning his funeral and its focus on family was in accordance with his wishes. The 99-year-old duke, who died Friday, also took part in designing the modified Land Rover that will carry his coffin.

“Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognize the duke’s life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth,” a palace spokesman said Saturday while speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Prince Harry, Philip’s grandson who stepped away from royal duties last year and now lives in California, will attend the service along with other members of the royal family. His wife, the Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant, has been advised by her doctor not to attend.

Palace officials said the ceremony would be conducted strictly in line with the British government’s COVID-19 guidelines, which restrict the number of people attending funerals to 30. They declined to say whether the royal family would be required to wear masks.

The palace appealed to the public not to gather in Windsor, and for those who wished to pay their respects to Philips to stay at home instead.

“While there is sadness that the public will not be able to physically be part of events to commemorate the life of the duke, the royal family asks that anyone wishing to express their condolences do so in the safest way possible and not by visiting Windsor or any other royal palaces to pay their respects,″ the palace spokesman said. “The family’s wish is very much that people continue to follow the guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.”

The announcement comes after military teams across the U.K. and on ships at sea fired 41-gun salutes Saturday to mark the death of Philip, honouring the former naval officer and husband of Queen Elizabeth II whom they considered one of their own.

Batteries in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast — the capitals of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom — as well as other cities around the U.K. and the Mediterranean outpost of Gibraltar fired the volleys at one-minute intervals beginning at midday. Ships including the HMS Montrose, a frigate patrolling the Persian Gulf, offered their own salutes.

“The Duke of Edinburgh served among us during the Second World War, and he remained devoted to the Royal Navy and the Armed Forces as a whole,” Gen. Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, said in a statement. “A life well-lived. His Royal Highness leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness and an unshakeable sense of duty.”

Members of the Commonwealth, a group of 54 countries headed by the monarch, were also invited to honour Philip. The Australian Defence Force began its salute at 5 p.m. local time outside Parliament House in Canberra, and New Zealand planned to offer its own tribute on Sunday.

Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and once had a promising military career. In 1941, he was honoured for his service during the battle of Cape Mattapan off the coast of Greece, when his control of searchlights aboard the HMS Valiant allowed the battleship to pinpoint enemy vessels in the dark. Philip rose to the rank of commander before he retired from active duty.

Two years after the war ended, Philip married Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26. Philip’s naval career came to an abrupt end when King George VI died in 1952 and his wife became queen.

At the queen’s coronation in 1953, Philip swore to be his wife’s “liege man of life and limb” and settled into a life supporting the monarch. The couple had four children — Charles, the heir to the throne, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

Before he retired from official duties in 2017, the prince carried out more than 22,000 solo public engagements and supported over 780 organizations, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for young people.

Members of the public continued to honour Philip’s life of service on Saturday, leaving flowers outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle despite appeals from authorities and the royal family to refrain from gathering.

“I think everyone would like to pay their respects,” Maureen Field, 67, said outside Windsor Castle. “Because of the virus, a lot of people have to stay away. He didn’t want a big funeral. He wanted a very private time with his family to say their goodbyes. So, we’ve all got to respect that.”

Mike Williams, 50, travelled from his home in Surrey, southwest of London, to Buckingham Palace to honour the prince.

“He’s a massive loss to the country and to the world, I think, so we wanted to come and pay respects,” Williams said. “I don’t know what it achieves, but it just felt like the right thing to do.”

(Associated Press, London – by James Brooks and Tom Rayner)

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Police: RNLI ‘most likely saved man’s life’ following tombstoning incident

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POLICE have issued an urgent warning following a tombstoning incident Tenby on Saturday evening (Apr 10).

A multi-agency operation was launched just after 6pm following reports of a man in difficulty after jumping from cliffs into the sea.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys police told The Herald: “We were called to the beach opposite St Catherine’s Island at around 6.15pm today, where a man had got into difficulty after jumping off the cliff into the water.

“On the arrival of officers, RNLI were at the scene and were administering CPR to the 23-year-old who was unconscious and not breathing.

“Fortunately, he regained consciousness shortly after and was taken to hospital for assessment.

Inspector Gavin Howells added: “This incident highlights the serious danger posed by tombstoning or cliff jumping, and the potentially life-threatening consequences.

“We urge people not to take part in this sort of activity anywhere along our coastline, and not to put themselves or the emergency services at risk for a thrill.

“We would like to thank our colleagues at the RNLI for their swift response to this incident, and for their actions which most likely saved this man’s life.”

RNLI Tenby posted on Facebook the following: “The Georgina Taylor was launched after person seen in difficulty in water

“Tenby’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched at around 6.25pm on Saturday, following a report of somebody in difficulty in the sea off Castle Beach.

“The volunteer crew were quickly on scene and immediately saw the casualty, who had been pulled from the water and was on the rocks.

“The casualty was taken from the rocks and into the lifeboat, where Casualty Care was administered whilst the helmsman made best speed to the harbour.

“As the lifeboat was entering the harbour, an ambulance was arriving at the slipway.

“The crew then assisted the ambulance personnel in getting the casualty onto the stretcher and into the ambulance, before re-housing the lifeboat.

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Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin

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POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

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