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Council doesnt deny Head’s appointment was rigged

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headteacher1THE APPOINTMENT of a head teacher to a Pembrokeshire school was ‘rigged’ to favour one candidate. That is the allegation that has been made to The Pembrokeshire Herald by a member of the panel for the selection of a head teacher for Ysgol Gelli Aur/ Golden Grove School in Pembroke. Pembroke Town Councillor, Mel Phillips told The Herald: “After the former head teacher of Gelli Aur, Les Johnson announced his intention to retire, the Council provided a shortlist of two candidates – Andrew Williams, who formerly taught at Broad aven School and a teacher from Brynconin School. Curiously, I had been told by a friend that Mr Williams would be the new head teacher, even before the job had been advertised as vacant.”

Mel explained that she was puzzled as to shortlist’s brevity and challenged the ‘adviser’ appointed by the Council to assist the Governors in selecting a head teacher as to why that was the case. The adviser, Sue Painter, told selection panel members that the post had been advertised in the Times Education Supplement (TES). Melanie Phillips expressed dissatisfaction at the shortlist’s length and checked with the TES whether an advertisement had been placed. Her enquiries revealed that was not the case and the selection panel demanded it was done properly and in accordance with the regulations governing the appointment of head teachers. After the post had been advertised, a further shortlist was produced. The second shortlist contained only three names: the original two candidates and a Mr Condon from Angle School.

The panel interviewed all of the candidates and at a meeting held at the County Archives, Haverfordwest, were unanimous in considering that the teacher from Brynconin School had performed the best in interview and was the best candidate for the job. Mel Phillips told The Herald: “Sue Painter then intervened and told the selection panel that there were ‘issues’ about the panel’s choice. “When we asked why his name had been put forward, we were told – ‘We didn’t expect him to get this far’.” However, Mel told us, when panel members asked what the issues were Sue Painter refused to say and told panel members it was a confidential matter. “Well, as you can guess, that left us hanging. We asked whether allegations had been made against him, but she would only answer it was ‘confidential’. That left us all hanging, inviting us to draw the worst of adverse conclusions.

“It stank then and it stinks now, Jon. I quickly concluded that the whole process was a stitch up from start to end and that whatever the allegations were they could not be that serious as the candidate was still teaching at another school. However, such was the doubt that Sue Painter had sown that panel members decided to reconsider their decision. “Two of us on the panel, me and Hywel Edwards, walked out in protest. In our absence, Mr Williams was appointed.” Mel explained how distressed she was by the events: “I tell you, I could not sleep. That poor man had been so badly served and so let down. He was clearly the best candidate for the job and I believe he would have been a terrific head teacher at our school. After a couple of days fretting, I had to phone him him and put him in the picture as to what had happened.

I assured him that we had all concluded he was the best candidate for the head teacher’s post and it was only the intervention of Sue Painter right at the end of the process that prevented his appointment. “In fact that there was NO issue regarding the panel’s choice. He has since been appointed to the head teacher’s post at another school.” The events have left Mel with a sour conclusion: “This whole thing was a stitch up from start to end. The best candidate was not appointed, the Council had clearly decided who was going to get the job and the so-called ‘adviser’ was simply there to make sure it got its way.”

The Herald put Mel’s detailed account to the Council as a series of bullet points and asked for a response from the Head of Education, Kate Evans-Hughes. The Herald made it clear that the inference to be drawn from Mel Phillips’s account was that the process had been rigged to favour one candidate over others. The Council DID NOT deny Mel Phillips’s account was truthful or accurate. Instead a spokesperson told The Herald: “The Staffing of Maintained Schools Regulations (Wales) clearly defines the recruitment process to be followed in the case of Head Teachers, with the governing body having responsibility for selection decisions and the Local Authority acting as an ‘adviser’. “This is the role the Authority played in this particular case.” No allegation of wrongdoing is made against the successful candidate and current head teacher at Golden Grove in relation to the selection process. However, the incident highlights concerns about further appointments to head teacher positions made by the local authority since 2012.

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Tenby woman injured in South Wales crash which left young man, 21, dead

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A TENBY woman was injured in a serious road accident on the A465 near Hirwaun, Rhondda Cynon Taf, which left a young man dead.

Also injured in the crash were three men aged 18, 22 and 25, The Herald can confirm.

The tragic crash happened following a police pursuit, and the Office for the Independent Office for Police Conduct is now involved in the investigation.

The 21-year-old, Robbie-Lee Selway from Merthyr Tydfil, sadly died on Thursday, May 13.

The crash involved a blue Ford Fiesta and a white Renault Clio between the Hirwaun and Llwydcoed junctions of the A465.

His family said: “We as a family are deeply broken by the tragic accident that left our family without a daddy, son, brother, uncle, partner and friend.

The police also confirmed that an 18-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving

“We ask that everyone give us some privacy at this very sad time. We appreciate everyone’s support through this time.”

A spokesperson for the Independent Office for Police Conduct told this newspaper in a statement: “The collision between a Ford Fiesta, which we understand was being pursued by a South Wales Police vehicle, and a Renault Clio, occurred shortly before 11 am.

“The IPOC understands a 21-year-old man who was in the Fiesta has sadly died, and a number of people were taken to hospital.

“Following a referral from the force we sent investigators to the scene and to the police post incident procedure to begin our enquiries.

“The man’s family have been advised of the IOPC involvement.”

An 18-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving following Thursday’s crash.

A police spokesman for South Wales Police told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the collision or the manner in which the Ford Fiesta was being driven in the Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare areas in the hours prior to the incident, or anyone who may have any dash-cam footage of the incident and who has not already done so to come forward.”

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Education

School’s concern over ‘inappropriate use of images of staff and pupils’

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THE HEADTEACHER of a Pembrokeshire primary school has written to parents and guardians following concerns over certain social media activity.

Mrs Clare Hewitt, of Neyland Community Primary School, said that it filled her “with great sadness” to have to email parents and guardians of pupils at her school.

She added that the school had alerted the police regarding the matter.

Mrs Hewitt said that it came to light that there had been “inappropriate use of images of staff and pupils for TikTok pages and Messenger groups.”

The school said it is asking that all parents, where their child uses social media, to check social media accounts to ensure that they are being used appropriately and safely,

Parents or guardians with concerns have been asked to telephone the school on Monday or to contact Mrs Hewitt by email.

Parents and guardians of pupils were contacted by email on Saturday night (May 15).

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Business

Boost for town: Local celebrity Matt Baker to take on the Castle Hotel

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A WELL known local musician and radio DJ is to take on a landmark business in Haverfordwest. The nine bedroom Castle Hotel is probably one of Pembrokeshire’s best known venues – but Matt Baker says it is now under new management.

Matt Baker is not doing things slowly, with a planned opening of the premises on May 28 promising live music, good food and a relaxing atmosphere for all ages. For what is sure to be a positive piece of news for Haverfordwest’s ailing town centre, he is currently advertising for staff, thus creating jobs.

Matt, who previously ran The Tiddly, made his announcement on his Facebook page this morning (May 16), with hundreds of people liking the post and many more wishing him well with his new venture.

Matt Baker is a DJ for Pure West Radio based in Haverfordwest (Pic: M Baker/Facebook)

He wrote: “Well folks I got some exciting news.

“As most of you know cruise ships have been a big part of my life, 16 years on and off.

“In between that I did open my own pub here in Pembrokeshire call The Tiddly and worked me bottom off to provide a great place for people to come and switch off with live music every night.

“That unfortunately had to come to an end and I have missed it very much.
Well, seeing as I can’t go back to ships at the moment I’ve decided to take on an adventure I
“I’ve always dreamed one day I would own and that is a Hotel.

“It’s not just any Hotel, but one full of amazing history right here in the heart of Pembrokeshire and right in the Center of Haverfordwest.

“Everyone said when I was at The Tiddly “we love it here but we wish you were in town” as The Tiddly was 3 miles outside of Haverfordwest.

The Castle Hotel is steeped in history, and is a Grade II listed building. The Boxing Day Hunt, with riders, horses and hounds late 19th century. (Pic DA Images)

“I’m super excited to start a new chapter in my life and with the support of the people of Pembrokeshire and beyond and I’m hoping it will be life long.

“The Hotel has nine beautiful rooms on suite and a lovely restaurant area and a lounge/bar which I’m planning to have all up and running very soon, all been refurbished by the way.
We still are In uncertain times but I’m hoping we are at the back end and can enjoy each other’s company like before and socialise.

“I’m bringing back live music, good food and drink, and a place to come and switch off for all age groups with a comfortable and enjoyable environment.

“I’m planning for the 28th of May to be open, that’s in just under 2 weeks, but if you know me, you know I like a challenge.

“Please come support and follow all guidelines for now as we move forward in these new times.

“I will look forward to welcoming you to The Castle Hotel with open arms and let’s make more great memories together.

“See you soon Pembrokeshire and beyond!”

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