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Education

Permanent head for Ysgol Dewi Sant

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DEWI-SANT_mediumUNDER threat local community school, Ysgol Dewi Sant (St David’s School), this week appointed a permanent Head Teacher, Mr David Haynes. He had previously been acting Head at the school
The appointment follows months of uncertainty at the school.
In a report earlier this year, ESTYN assessed the school as having an overall performance rated merely adequate and also stated their prospects for improvement as also being just adequate.
They deemed the school’s leadership and management as unsatisfactory and expressed concern that middle leaders of the school had not had enough impact on improving the quality of provision and raising standards in their areas of responsibility.
They also criticised lines of accountability, stating that they were unclear, and that line management arrangements lacked vigour and consistency in holding these middle leaders to account.
That report was in stark contrast to the finding of the Real Schools Guide, published in September, which placed Ysgol Dewi Sant as Pembrokeshire’s best achieving secondary school.
Speaking with The Herald, David Lloyd, School Governor and local County Councillor, discussed the positive aspects to arise from the appointment of a new Head Teacher.
“It is an interesting and uncertain period for education in Pembrokeshire. The local authority was reluctant for us to appoint a head on the basis it (the school) may be closed. Therefore, the governors had to appoint a head without the blessing of the local authority.#
‘’We have been careful not to reject their advice but always working with what is best for the school. ESTYN have objected to too many temporary acting Heads in Pembrokeshire.”
He went on to point out that such acting Heads did, in ESTYN’s opinion, undermine the leadership of a school, and that the school, therefore, faced the paradoxical position of being rated only adequate/unsatisfactory in leadership but with the local authority asking for the school not to appoint.
He continued: “This is an impossible situation, making the school vulnerable. I’m happy to say that the new incoming director of education (for Pembrokeshire County Council) gave us their blessing to appoint, and we are happy with the working relationship we now have with the local authority.”
On the issue of the school maintaining its current status Mr Lloyd said: “We are quietly confident that all the hard work will ultimately succeed in retaining a secondary school in St David’s. We are happy to appoint a Head Teacher to consolidate our efforts to keep the school and we are very happy to work with the new team at the County Council. We accept their decision will be evidence based”.
Mayor Glenys James spoke to The Herald saying: “We are delighted to have Mr Haynes. People are more comfortable now that we have a Head. He has addressed the (City) Council and given us a précis of what is being put into place. We also took the councillors around the school for them to see what is going on.”
On potential closure to the school she continued: “The fear is with us until we know (the result of any closures). If you take the school, you take the community, and there is the link with The Cathedral and the St David’s choir.
‘’This school is working well, now, and is full to capacity. We will wait for the review and see what happens from there. We would be devastated if the school closed. We are a community working closely with the school”.
Speaking on behalf of the County Council, and of the continued worry by the school as to what their fate might be, a spokesperson said: “The review of secondary education in the St. Davids area is part of a wider review of secondary provision in Pembrokeshire. The St Davids review is due to be completed in November.
‘’Members have been assured that no decisions regarding school closures or mergers have been taken. Closures and mergers are just two of a number of strategies for consideration once recommendations have been presented.’’
The four principles underpinning the process of developing and implementing school organization proposals are:
* Quality and future sustainability of educational provision;
* Sufficiency and accessibility of school places;
* The condition, suitability and standard of school buildings;
* Value for money.
The prime focus is currently on secondary schools due to the estimated projected 2,000 surplus places in the future. The review of secondary provision will significantly inform recommendations as to how these challenges can be addressed.
In a recent meeting of the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee, the shared Head of School Effectiveness, Alan Walters, stated that while school performance at primary level was mostly positive, performance within secondary schools was disappointing and a cause for concern.
The judgment was made following consideration of national and regional results of Estyn inspections.

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Education

Well done Gemma, you are an inspiration to us all

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A SINGLE mum of seven who left school with no qualifications is celebrating after gaining a degree from Swansea University.

Gemma Turnbull, aged 34, admits she didn’t attend school regularly as a child but now her determination to carve out a bright future for her and her family has seen her complete a BA in Humanities after studying part-time for six years through the University’s Department of Adult Continuing Education (DACE).

After leaving state education without a single GCSE, Gemma, from Pembrokeshire, fell pregnant at 16 and went on to have four children of her own, including Ruby, 11, who was born with a heart condition and 15-year-old Joe who has autism.

In 2011, wanting to secure a better life, Gemma began to explore further learning opportunities but she had to overcome further setbacks along the way.

Shortly after starting a two-year Foundation Certificate, Gemma found out that her sister’s three children were about to be moved into care.

She became the legal guardian to Leonie, Shaun and Jack, meaning she was responsible for seven children at the age of just 26.

“Life was quite bleak to be honest,” said Gemma, who is the first in her family to engage in higher education.

“At first, I worried about how I would cope being a student but I didn’t want the family to be split up.

“I wanted better for them and for them to be proud of me. I didn’t want the children to be like me, growing up with no education or no job.

“I was 26, with seven children to look after, and it was hard. I remember being asleep in the bathroom at one point at 4am after trying to do an essay all night and I was knackered – but now I’ve done it.”

Her nephew, nine-year-old Shaun, has Foetal Alcohol Syndrome which affects his behaviour, while Gemma herself was also diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia during her studies. It was during this period that her marriage broke down.

“All I ever wanted was to have the mum and dad all sat down as a family, with the children, like you see on TV,” she said.

“I know that isn’t reality sometimes but that’s what I wanted, so it was hard admitting that I’d end up being divorced like my parents. Nobody wants that.

“They haven’t got that male role model in their lives, but hopefully I can give them that and help them to have positive lives.

“I wouldn’t change anything. Life is what you make of it – you can either sink or swim. The best thing I ever did was have the children all with me under one roof. In fact, I actually cope better with seven than I did with four!”

With her graduation secured, Gemma has already set her sights on what she wants to achieve next.

“I plan to gain my Maths and English GCSE, but I’m going to get a private tutor for those. Then I hope to go on and do a PGCE before hopefully becoming a primary school teacher,” said Gemma, who is also a parent governor at Ysgol Harri Tudur in Pembroke.

“You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it and you want it badly enough. The whole experience has been really positive, especially the staff at Swansea University and their attitude towards helping me.

“If I had had teachers like that when I was at school I know I would have done a lot better – they have been amazing.

“The whole journey has made me a better mum – everything I do is for the children – and I think it is the best thing I’ve ever done.”

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Education

Fishguard school last in Wales without broadband

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CHILDREN in a school in Fishguard are excited about next term before the summer holidays have even begun.

Ysgol Llanychllwydog is the last school in Wales without broadband.

The pupils sometimes have to wait half an hour for pages to load. Sometimes videos won’t play. Now the school is looking forward to an ultra-fast future, and for the head teacher the changes cannot come quickly enough.

Currently when the internet goes down Amanda Lawrence has to drive 10 minutes to her other school to send an email to report it.

“It’s frustrating. There are lots of schools that are able to use schemes where you can plan electronically, but it’s difficult for staff here to do that,” she said.

As part of a scheme to target hard-to-reach places, fibre optic cable is being laid along a 15-mile route from Haverfordwest.

Matt Lovegrove, who works for Openreach, admitted it had been ‘a massive challenge’.

He said: “We’ve had to plough 1.5 miles of new trench to put new duct in, we’ve had to put new poles and had to span the cable between 50 poles as well, so a real variety of challenges.

“The product is limitless in terms of speed. It’s gigabit capable, that means they can download music, interactive learning et cetera, and it will be instant for them.”

The wider community will also benefit from the upgrade, he said. “We are looking to work with local government and residents to expand that fibre footprint to as much of the village as possible.”

“They’ll be able to access the high speed broadband and again get all the benefits from that.”

The last school in Wales without broadband

Broadband is a Welsh Government priority. It’s invested £13.8m in school broadband.

But Llanarchllwydog has been a tough nut. It’s taken the efforts of Welsh and UK governments to bring broadband.

“Because of the challenging topography, that we are familiar with, it has taken rather a long time to make sure that every school is equipped with the broadband speeds that they need,” said Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams.

“This means that schools will have the external infrastructure that they need to deliver our exciting new curriculum and I hope to be making an announcement shortly on further investment on kit and equipment inside schools.”

The work is being done through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme.

DCMS minister Margot James MP agrees cooperation between the two governments has helped deliver the project.

“That’s not the end of it for Wales,” Ms James said.

“The other aspects of the rural gigabit connectivity programme is that we are using that £200 million to bring full fibre to local public buildings like hospitals and schools so that they get the gigabit connectivity first.”

The cable has now reached the telegraph post outside the school. The final work will happen over summer.

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Education

A practical lesson for primary school pupils on the problem of plastic pollution

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A PEMBROKESHIRE primary school came up with a novel way to educate its young pupils about the problems of plastic pollution.

Goodwick CP School took its year 2 and 3 pupils to Fishguard Leisure Centre where the swimming pool was filled with plastic waste. The lesson was the idea of class teacher Miss Davies,
whose is teaching the effect of plastic on the environment and particularly the sea.

The children worked together to clean the pool of single use plastic, collecting more than ten bags of rubbish.

The school posted on Facebook: “Miss Davies’ class had a bit of a shock when they arrived at the swimming pool for a swimming lesson today!

“The pool was unfortunately full of plastic.

“It gave the children an insight into what it must be like for marine life living amongst plastic pollution.

“They then worked together to clean the pool.

“Thank you to Richards Bros for getting the children there and back, and to the staff of the leisure centre for allowing us to do this.”

Photos of the lesson were shared nearly 3,000 times from the school’s Facebook page.

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