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Education

Pembrokeshire ‘leads the way’ in Traveller and Gypsy education

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Holistic approach: Monkton School celebrating success

Holistic approach: Monkton School celebrating success

A REPORT by the education watchdog Ofsted has called for better support for children from Roma and Gypsy backgrounds.

Ofsted surveyed three local councils and 11 schools with a large intake of Roma pupils from Eastern Europe, producing a report that said: “The schools and local authorities reported to inspectors that many Roma pupils initially had difficulty in adhering to school routines and meeting expectations for good behaviour, especially where the pupils had little prior experience of formal education.”

Ofsted went on to recommend that ‘local authorities should ensure that there is a dedicated and knowledgeable senior leader who can push forward the local authority’s strategies for improving outcomes for Roma pupils.’

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, told The Herald: “The majority of school leaders are only too aware of the challenges involved in supporting the children of Roma families. The report makes some sensible points which NAHT supports, notably the recommendations for the department to be more responsive to in-year changes to the number of pupils on the school roll. Schools need to be able to get money more quickly when Roma children join them part way through the school year. We know that rapid intervention and sustained support are vital to improving the outcomes of all children no matter their background.”

Despite these issues, Pembrokeshire has been cited as a very good example of how an holistic approach can help to give young people from the traveller community an education and thus find jobs.

A Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson said: “The Pembrokeshire Gypsy Traveller Education Service provides support to 196 gypsy travellers, show-ground, or circus children and their parents throughout Pembrokeshire. The service provides training on gypsy traveller culture to schools, health professionals, police and other groups.

“The majority of gypsy traveller pupils are in mainstream education (91 per cent). The Priory Project currently educates the other 9 per cent of pupils. They comprise 11 to 18-year-old gypsy traveller children educated in Monkton. One of the most celebrated achievements recently has been the graduation of four members of the gypsy traveller community with Foundation Degrees. Three of the graduates are Learning support Assistants and are continuing to study to achieve a BA in Education and Social Inclusion. The Education and Social Inclusion degree courses are delivered by Trinity St David University in Carmarthen but are held in Monkton Priory CP”.

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Education

Teacher’s gruelling challenge to help visually impaired child

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TEACHER Sion Jenkins is running 100 laps around a famous Pembrokeshire landmark to raise money to help a visually impaired child in his class.

He is aiming to raise £2,000 on crowd funder platform Go Fund Me by doing laps of Carew Castle and Mill in just 24 hours, about one hundred miles in total.

Sion said: “I decided that I wanted to raise money to help purchase a trike/adapted bike to help a visually impaired child in my class.

“Due to his sight, he isn’t able to ride a bike – and is desperate to gain some independence/confidence and ride a bike like every other child.

“On the back of a challenge set by school, to complete the ‘100 challenge’ as a tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore, I decided to tie the two together and have a go at completing this gruelling challenge.

“100 laps of Carew Castle and Mill will total just under 100 miles – in less than 24 hours.”

If you would like to contribute to this epic challenge this is the link:

https://uk.gofundme.com/f/carew-mill-100-laps-in-24-hours?

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Education

Schools partnership promotes the benefits of outdoor learning

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OUTDOOR learning across the county has received a welcome boost over the past 12 months as a result of additional funding secured by the Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools (PODS) project, which has covered the cost of a Co-ordinator working directly with schools.

Thanks to financial backing from the People’s Postcode Local Trust and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust, the PODS Co-ordinator has been able to help with the delivery of high quality, curriculum-linked learning experiences in school grounds and local outdoor spaces.

Part of the Co-ordinator’s role is also to bring together local and national organisations, including Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Discovery team, teachers and head teachers. Pooling their diverse knowledge and expertise, the partnership seeks to share good practice and promote the benefits of taking lessons outdoors.

Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools Co-ordinator Bryony Rees said: “Last summer, the Welsh Government recognised the importance of outdoor learning in the post-lockdown return to school. We have been working hard to support this by giving children and teachers increased opportunities to take their learning outdoors.

“We have already engaged with a number of schools across Pembrokeshire and produced some live webinars. Supporting resources for these can be found on HWB. This has made it possible to reach out to even more schools with practical information, inspiration and advice on delivering outdoor learning programmes.

“Several schools have taken the opportunity to develop their school grounds to support outdoor learning and more recently, Neyland Community School has introduced outdoor lessons every Friday.”

During the most recent lockdown, work has continued online and the PODS website has been developed to provide teachers with some learning resources. Outdoor learning ideas and inspiration for teachers and parents are also shared on the PODS Facebook page (Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools) and on Twitter @PembsOutdoorSch.

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Education

Education announcement welcomed by Pembrokeshire County Council

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THE LOCAL AUTHORITY has said that it welcomes the Welsh Government’s announcement today (Friday, 29th January) that schools will be the first to reopen when Wales’ current lockdown restrictions are lifted.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced that the ‘alert level four’ restrictions will remain in Wales for three more weeks but following that period, there would be a ‘phased and flexible back-to-school approach if coronavirus cases continue to fall’.

He said primary school children would be the first to return, if the public health situation continues to improve, and that students studying vocational qualifications would also be among those prioritised for the phased return to colleges.

Mr Drakeford said: “We’ve seen a really welcome fall in cases of the virus all over Wales, but they are still too high and the NHS continues to be under intense pressure.

“We need to keep the lockdown restrictions in place for a little while longer to help us bring rates of the virus down further. If we can do this, we will create the headroom we need to get children back to school after half term – starting with the youngest at primary schools.

“We will work with teachers, colleges, local authorities to plan for the safe return of children to school over the next couple of weeks and keep parents updated.”

Pembrokeshire’s Director of Education, Steven Richards-Downes, will be meeting virtually with Welsh Government ministers today together with other Education Directors.

Mr Richards-Downes said: “We welcome the Welsh Government’s statement that schools will be the first to reopen, whenever that may be.

“We will continue to work directly with unions, headteachers, governing bodies and other Council services to ensure that schools are Covid-safe when they are re-opened.

“Distance learning will continue for now and parents should contact their schools directly if they have any queries regarding this.”

He added: “Any parent experiencing difficulties with digital exclusion should contact their school directly.

Free school meals payments will continue to be paid to families who have applied for them, as planned. The next payments will be made on Thursday, 4th February.

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