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Governors respond to schools consultation



Pembrokeshire College: Recommended to be attached to a school.

Pembrokeshire College: Recommended to be attached to a school.

AHEAD of the May 5 deadline for responses to the council’s consultation on the future of secondary education in mid and north Pembrokeshire, the governing bodies of schools affected by the changes have begun to submit their responses to the local authority.

Ysgol Bro Gwaun’s response endorses the thrust of the council’s plans while presenting its own vision to retain sixth form provision in Fishguard and St Davids through the use of remote teaching and information technology.

The council is consulting on one proposal only; i.e. 11-16 education is preserved at all secondary schools subject to the consultation, that a new Welsh medium school is built in Haverfordwest and – most controversially – that post 16 education is concentrated in a single location at Pembrokeshire College.

Ysgol Bro Gwaun’s governors have presented an alternative vision in a document titled Schools for the Future. The document states that the governing body supports: “The plan to create a new, independent, centrally funded and administered, split-site 6th Form College for Pembrokeshire with community campuses in Haverfordwest, St Davids and Fishguard. Making intelligent use of interactive and web-based learning, producing considerable economies of scale as an A-level provider for over 500 learners, and working in an integrated partnership with Pembrokeshire College this would provide a full range of academic and vocational learning options for post- 16 learners.”

That response chimes with Cllr David Lloyd’s surprising announcement at a meeting with Haverfordwest secondary school students during which he appeared to announce that the plan advanced by Ysgol Bro Gwaun was, in fact, the plan the Council was now pursuing. If the Council has abandoned its plans to concentrate post 16 education on one site, the question arises as to how it will be able to obtain the amount of match-funding it requires to fulfil its controversial vision of the future. It also calls into question why the Council has persisted with the present consultation if it now intends to adopt a different solution; one which was expressly rejected as an option at a preliminary stage.

The Governing Bodies of Sir Thomas Picton and Tasker Milward schools, in a closely argued document supported by a raft of statistical evidence that challenges and refutes the council’s own data, express concerns about the long term viability of coalescing sixth form provision at the college.

Pointing out that A Level provision accounts for only 1% of the college’s current budget, the response goes on to point out that the college’s core funding – after the recent £800,000 cut – is now below the viability threshold for FE colleges set by the Welsh Government. The governing bodies report that: ‘This represents a significant risk for A Level provision, should it all be devolved to the college’.

The response also notes, damningly, that the council has picked and chosen its way through the recommendations of its own chosen consultants, pointing out that the report by Tribal it cites to support building a single sixth form centre at Pembrokeshire College, recommends that the sixth form be attached to a school.

Students at both Haverfordwest schools have overwhelmingly rejected the council’s schools plan. 92% of students at Sir Thomas Picton School wanted to retain sixth forms within the school. At Tasker Milward the results were similarly overwhelming in rejecting the council’s scheme.

AM Paul Davies said: “I am finalising my consultation response where I will make clear my opposition to removing sixth form provision in Haverfordwest. I will, of course highlight that the current proposals will remove choice for pupils at sixteen which will be detrimental to the education of our young people in mid Pembrokeshire.”

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NEU Cymru teacher members vote to accept pay offer



73% of NEU teacher members in Wales who responded to the union’s consultation have voted to ACCEPT the pay offer put forward by the Welsh Government, and end the dispute.

The offer put forward by Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles will see an additional payment to teachers of 3% for this academic year (2022/23), made up of 1.5% consolidated award and a further 1.5% unconsolidated lump-sum. The offer also included an increased pay rise of 5% paid from September 2023. The Minister has also confirmed that it will all be fully funded by the Welsh Government.

Speaking about the members’ decision, NEU Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The members in Wales have made a clear decision to accept the pay offer, put forward by the Minister in a letter dated 9 March.

“We would like to thank the Welsh Government for the constructive way in which they have conducted negotiations with the union, and we look forward to a productive working relationship to ensure that the rest of the deal, focused on workload, continues to make good progress.

“Whilst this doesn’t meet our ambitions for pay restitution every part of this offer is due to our members’ efforts – and we will continue campaigning for the Governments in Cardiff and Westminster to invest properly in this generation of children and the staff who work with them.”

David Evans, Wales Secretary for the National Education Union Cymru, said: “It is clear that a large majority of our teacher members here in Wales want to accept the deal from the Minister. They were provided with full information about the offer and have given us a definitive steer.

“This has been a difficult time for everyone in education. Our members do not take decisions to go on strike lightly, but they had to make a stand given the continuing impact of austerity, cost of living and spiralling inflation. We would like to thank all the parents who supported teachers and support staff in the action taken.

“We remain disappointed that the Minister made no offer to teaching assistants, but we know that we have raised the profile of the critical issues which affect everyone in education. Our National Executive will be considering next steps in our support staff pay campaign.”

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Commissioner joins students on tour of Dyfed-Powys Police custody suite construction site



POLICE and Crime Commissioner joins construction students on tour of Dyfed-Powys Police Custody Suite Construction Site

As part of a national open doors to construction sites campaign, this week there is an opportunity for the public in Carmarthenshire to go on site with construction company Willmott Dixon, to see construction work going ahead on the new Dyfed-Powys Police Custody suite in Dafen, Llanelli Carmarthenshire as it nears completion.

Today, 14 March 2023, Police and Crime Commissioner was invited to attend one of the site tours with a group of construction students from nearby Coleg Sir Gar.

As part of the open doors event, members of the public are shown around a construction of approximately 4000m2 over two storeys, that includes 18 new cell custody suites, interview rooms, cells, charge desk, open plan office space and associated meeting rooms and a significant area for mechanical and electrical plant. 

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said: “This is a major investment for us which will see an ambitious, modern, sustainable fit for purpose policing hub and custody suite that will meet the needs and expectations of modern policing.

“I am grateful for Willmott Dixon, for including the construction site on the menu of construction sites for the national Open Doors campaign this week.  I’ve worked extremely hard with partners over recent years to ensure that we get to this position, and it was great to be able to walk around the building today with a group of students from Coleg Sir Gar as it nears completion.”

The new Carmarthenshire Custody Suite, based in Dafen Llanelli, will offer a more sustainable environment, while also help protect natural resources.  Amongst some of the sustainable credentials of the new building will be a photovoltaic solar power installation to minimise the carbon footprint of the building; a rainwater harvesting facility for toilets and non-potable water, and electric car charging facilities.

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A unique learning experience for students from Pembrokeshire College



LAST week staff and students from Pembrokeshire College were delighted to be able to officially open their teaching space at Folly Farm.

Designed for Level 3 Animal Management learners, this unique teaching facility exemplifies what can be achieved by educators and employers working in partnership.

Jointly funded by Welsh Government and Pembrokeshire College, the facility opened for learners just prior to lockdown back in February 2020. Overlooking the rhino enclosure, learners are exposed to a wide variety of opportunities including shadowing zookeepers and working with exotic species – opportunities made possible due to their location at the centre of a working zoo.

During the opening Chris Ebsworth, Folly Farm Managing Director, highlighted the excellent opportunities that are available to learners; not only in working directly with animals, but also in the wider field of conservation. Meanwhile, learner Georgia Pike gave her perspective on what the centre brings to learners. Being based at Folly Farm provides a truly unique learning experience, something that just wouldn’t be possible on the main College campus.

MP Simon Hart rounded off by cutting the ribbon and officially opening the centre. The opening was also attended by representatives from Pembrokeshire County Council, Coleg Sir Gar, CITB and The John Burns Foundation (Burns in the Community).

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