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Secondary schools could close in big education shake up

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School changes: Taskers site could become a new Welsh Medium School

School changes: Taskers site could become a new Welsh Medium School

  • – Five schools could close and be replaced with three new ones, says report

  • – Public meeting and protest planned

THE COUNTY COUNCIL’s plans for the future of education in north and mid-Pembrokeshire will come under the spotlight at an Extraordinary Meeting of the County Council scheduled for Thursday January 29.

If passed by members, the far-reaching plans would see English-medium secondary provision centred at Haverfordwest’s Sir Thomas Picton School’s campus, with significant redevelopment of the site over several years. The report being considered notes: “The merging of the two existing schools on the STP site may result in some disruption during construction phase. However, all reasonable steps will be taken to minimise such disruption.”

The council’s preferred options are set out in Appendix 5 of a 62-page paper prepared by the Council’s Director of Education.

Following on from the Cabinet’s adoption of a Welsh language strategy on January 5, the plan unveils and ambitious scheme to extend the council’s Welsh-medium education provision by the construction of a 3-16 school at the site of Taker Milward in Haverfordwest. The report says that: ‘Provision is feasible on the Tasker Milward site if an English medium school is established on the Sir Thomas Picton site’.

The report states that 3-16 education is becoming more common across Wales, although the authority anticipates resistance to the idea in Haverfordwest, not least from the parents at Ysgol Gymraeg Glan Cleddau.

The construction of a new Welsh medium school accessible to the wider county means that almost all parents who wish their children to be taught through the medium of Welsh will be within a 45 minute journey of such a facility.

As revealed in this paper in November 2013, the plans mean that Pembrokeshire College will take on additional responsibilities in relation to vocational and post-16 education.

The bitterest blow has fallen on Saint Davids, with the school there scheduled for closure while its functions amalgamate in part with Fishguard and in part – for Welsh medium pupils – with a new Welsh education school in Haverfordwest. The report acknowledges fears that the loss of Ysgol Dewi Sant might accelerate the process of turning the city into a place only attractive to older people and not to young families with children.

Ysgol Bro Gwaun, Fishguard, has come well out of the exercise with the Council noting that its site is:  ‘Appropriate for either a refurbishment of existing facilities or a new build’.

The key recommendations are:

Discontinue Sir Thomas Picton School and Tasker Milward VC School and establish a new 11-16 English medium secondary school with additional ALN provision for pupils with complex learning needs on the site of the current Sir Thomas Picton School. Post 16 provision to be provided in a new integrated sixth form centre as part of a formal collaboration between the County Council and Pembrokeshire College, subject to formal governance arrangements being agreed.

Discontinue Ysgol Bro Gwaun and Ysgol Dewi Sant Schools and establish a new 11-16 English medium (with significant use of Welsh ) secondary school with additional ALN provision for pupils with complex learning needs on the site of the current Ysgol Bro Gwaun School. Post 16 provision to be provided in a new integrated sixth form centre as part of a formal collaboration between the County Council and Pembrokeshire College, subject to formal governance arrangements being agreed.

Discontinue Ysgol Gymraeg Glan Cleddau and establish a new 3-16 Welsh medium / bilingual school on the site of the current Tasker Milward VC School. Post 16 provision to be provided at Ysgol y Preseli.

In response to education review proposals Bethan Williams, field officer for Cymdeithas yr Iaith in Dyfed told The Herald: “While it is encouraging that the council will increase Welsh provision by opening a 3-16 school in Haverfordwest we want to know what will be the capacity of the school – will it be big enough from the beginning? There is also the question why there is no provision for the sixth form as part of the recommendations. Why would pupils who have received their whole primary and secondary education in the Haverfordwest area then choose to go all the way to Ysgol y Preseli instead of Pembrokeshire College?”

Ms Williams said: “We also encourage members to reject the euphemism that a new school will be established through amalgamating Ysgol Dewi Sant and Ysgol Bro Gwaun. In all but legal terms it is simply the closure of Ysgol Dewi Sant which will be a severe blow for the local economy. Why not create instead a new two-site school, and use the opportunity to change the language category to create a 2A school which would ensure that all pupils received a significant proportion of teir education through the medium of Welsh? ”

She added: “We urge councillors not to miss out on the opportunity to improve provision in Tenby, where a Welsh primary school will be opened next year and Pembroke Dock where the Welsh unit is full. Welsh secondary provision in Haverfordwest will make very little difference in these areas.”

The decision made by councillors next week will affect education across the county for years to come and it is essential that Welsh education becomes easily available in all parts of the county.”

Public meeting and protest planned

Following the announcement on educational changes by Pembrokeshire County Council, a public meeting has been called for 5pm on Monday, January 26 at City Hall, St Davids, to be chaired by local County Councillor, David Lloyd.

David Haynes, the headteacher of Ysgol Dewi Sant,  has sent a letter home with pupils on Friday (Jan 23) in an attempt to reassure parents that whatever decisions are made about the school, the staff and leadership will focus on their core purpose of providing the best possible education.

A public demonstration is  planned ahead of Thursday extraordinary meeting of full council. Protesters will gather outside County Hall from 8am. The council meeting starts at 9am.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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