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Sixth form scheme snubbed

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6th form in schoolCOUNCILLORS who attended a presentation by pupils of Tasker- Milward and Sir Thomas Picton schools on Wednesday, April 29, were left in little doubt about the strength of feeling and depth of opposition to the local authority’s scheme to strip Haverfordwest schools of their sixth forms.

The presentation, would have made uncomfortable listening for some councillors as student after student made it clear just how important having a sixth form in school was for the school community.

Cory Jenkins, the Head Boy of Sir Thomas Picton School, and Millie Thomas, Deputy Head Girl of Tasker- Milward, coordinated the presentations made by members of the schools, who face losing their sixth forms if the Council presses on with its scheme to site a new single sixth form centre at Pembrokeshire College.

Or at least that is the plan the Council is consulting on.

It appeared from comments made by Cllr David Lloyd near the meeting’s close that the Council has largely abandoned the sole proposal upon which it is now consulting.

Pupils’ impassioned plea

In a moving address to councillors, Cory Jenkins related how the personal knowledge of a teacher who had known him for years, allowed him to look again at his future and reconsider his original decision to attend an NVQ3 course in Drama and Theatre at Pembrokeshire College. He disclosed how polls of students at both Sir Thomas Picton and Tasker- Milward overwhelmingly supported the retention of sixth form education in Haverfordwest’s secondary schools.

Electing to remain in Sir Thomas Picton and study for A Levels, Cory has been offered a place at the London School of Economics. Cory was clear that, as were other speakers, the direct involvement of inspirational teachers with direct knowledge of students gained over a number of years, was something the Council’s plans put in jeopardy.

Luzelle Davies spoke movingly of the importance of the sixth form in delivering assistance and support to younger students. Without sixth form presence in the school, Luzelle stated that the level of pastoral guidance given by post-16 students in school could not be replaced easily, if at all. Highlighting the reading support project within Tasker-Milward School and its importance in developing confidence in younger students and empathetic skills in older ones, Luzelle said that there was no way in which the scheme could be as successful or as rewarding for participants without sixth form input.

Responding to a question as to whether students in Year 11 could provide the support currently given by those in Years 12 and 13, Millie Thomas gave a clear and decisive ‘no’. Explaining how the pressure of working towards GCSE’s at the end of Year 11 meant that such a proposal would be impractical, Millie pointed out that periods in which Year 12 and 13 students were not in class or working in school provided them alone with the capacity and time to engage with younger students and build the school as a living community.

Not only about academics

The Council’s plan for repatriating students to their original schools to participate in sports once they were ensconced in Pembrokeshire College as students was given short shrift by student Tom Harvey. Describing the plans as ‘not very well thought out’, Tom pointed out that it was impractical to simply uproot students and transplant them back without continuity of sports coaching. Tom warned that the most likely result of the scheme was to reduce participation by young people in sport. One councillor in attendance was heard to mutter that the authority’s proposals on sport smacked of ‘back of a fag packet calculation’.

The suggestion that the Council had adequately consulted before it made its proposal was vigorously disputed by Millie Thomas. Pointing out that students learned of the proposals to strip schools of their sixth forms by reading about it in The Herald and other local press, she related how the original proposals were for 11-19 education to remain in schools and the proposal to relocate post-16 education to Pembrokeshire College came out of the blue.

Cory Jenkins took up the baton and demonstrated the Council’s careless use of statistics to back up its claims regarding the success of post-16 school-based education. Pointing out that claims made of superior performance at post-16 by Pembrokeshire College ignored the size difference between schools and the College. 165 students heading off to university from the College in 2014, represented only 1% of its post-16 cohort, whereas 26% of A Level students headed to Russell Group universities alone from the sixth form in Haverfordwest’s schools.

Cllr David Lloyd made an interesting contribution both to the event and to the wider debate about the future of post-16 education.

While he said that councillors would listen to the views expressed by the students, and praised them for their eloquence, he averred that councillors had to look at ‘the broad picture’. In terms, he appeared to tell students that listening to them would not entail acting to allay their concerns in a concrete way.

And then Cllr Lloyd made a revelation.

The plans subject to the consultation, and upon which the Council is spending tens of thousands of pounds of public money and resources, do not seem to be the plans that the Council is promoting in Fishguard and Saint Davids. Instead, taking Cllr Lloyd at his word the Council appears is both promoting and pursuing a multi-site semi-federated strategy allowing some sixth form retention at Ysgol Bro Gwaun and Ysgol Dewi Sant.

The Herald has been able to confirm that is the plan being touted to mollify parents in Fishguard and Saint Davids.

If Cllr Lloyd is correct and that is the Council’s plan, it is not clear what residual legitimacy still attaches to the current consultation.

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Business

Further Covid-19 business support packages to become available soon

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PEMBROKESHIRE businesses that remain affected by Covid-19 restrictions can check their eligibility for a new package of support from the Welsh Government.

This latest support package will help those businesses eligible to meet ongoing costs through to the end of June as they prepare for re-opening and more normal trading conditions.

Businesses that stand to benefit include:

  • nightclubs and late entertainment venues
  • events and conference venues not covered by the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF)
  • hospitality and leisure businesses, including restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • supply chain business, which have been materially impacted by restrictions

An eligibility checker has opened on the Business Wales website so businesses can find out how much support they are likely to be entitled to and how to apply.

See more information and check your business’ eligibility at: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/

Funding will be calculated based on the size of the business and the type of restrictions they are under.

Businesses will be able submit applications to the Welsh Government from 24th May 2021 for grants of up to £25,000 and by the end of the month to Pembrokeshire County Council for smaller fixed Discretionary Grants.

To keep up to date and see the future application process for the Discretionary Grants please see: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

The above link will be be updated with the latest information.  

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News

£50,000 funding windfall for low carbon community projects

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OVER £50,000 of funding has been awarded to local projects through the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF).

Since June 2020, the Fund has focussed on supporting community-led projects that contribute towards a reduction in carbon and help respond to the climate emergency. These can include:

·       Installing renewable energy generation facilities, such as solar panels, to a community building

·       Transport initiatives that promote reduced carbon emissions

·       The installation of community facilities that minimise waste, such as water fountains

·       Any other community-based carbon reduction initiatives.

Tenby RFC were among those to benefit from the most recent round of grants with an initiative to install recycling bins and litter pick stations at each of the sports facilities in the town.

There were two successful applications from the Solva area – one for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels at Solva Community Clubhouse, and the other from the Community Organised Allotment for Solva Tenants (COAST) to help with set-up costs.

Others to be awarded an SDF grant were the Paul Sartori Foundation and the EcoDewi community group. The Paul Sartori Foundation’s project involved fitting of tracking devices onto warehouse vans to enable route optimisation and increased fuel economy; while EcoDewi secured funding to support a part-time role organising community engagement events and volunteering activities, and developing wider community partnerships.

Jessica Morgan, Funding and Grants Officer for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust said: “It’s been wonderful to see such variety in the applications we’ve received, and the innovative climate emergency solutions suggested by communities in the National Park.

“We look forward to receiving the next round of applications, and would encourage any community-led group or organisation that needs support to fund projects that will help reduce carbon and/or respond to climate change to apply as soon as possible.”

The next deadline for SDF applications is Friday 10 September 2021.

To find out more about SDF grants, and to apply online or download the application form please visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/sdf.  

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News

Appeal after woman sexually assaulted on cycle path near Haverfordwest

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POLICE officers in Haverfordwest are appealing for witnesses after a woman was sexually assaulted at approximately 4.30pm on Sunday (May 16).

The woman was walking along the cycle path between Haverfordwest and Tiers Cross when she was approached by a man who threatened and assaulted her, before walking away towards Haverfordwest town.

The male is described as a white male, between 5ft 4 and 5ft 11 tall , normal build with a welsh accent. He has short dark hair, a beard and a moustache, brown eyes, and wearing light blue jeans, navy/dark blue jersey with grey sleeves. Anyone who saw a man matching this description in the area between 3.30pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested and is currently in police custody.

The cycle path is currently closed while the investigation continues.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, who is leading the investigation, said “Incidents of this nature are extremely rare in the Dyfed-Powys area. The public may see an increased presence of police officers in the coming days as police investigate the incident. Anyone with concerns or information that could help our enquiries can speak to those officers or contact police. While a man was quickly arrested we would still like to speak to anyone who saw a man matching the above description in the area yesterday afternoon.”

Anyone with information which could help the investigation is asked to contact police. This can be done online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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