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Councillors given new school plan

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screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-12-22-55PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL (PCC) met with members of Estyn this week (Oct 11) for a confidential seminar on the future of secondary school education provision in Pembrokeshire.

Just months after councillors voted against the proposed plans to reorganise Pembrokeshire’s secondary school structure in May this year, plans for a new sixth form provision in the county have surfaced once again.

A major aspect of the newly proposed plans include an 11-19 school to be sited in Haverfordwest – this is in addition to the 3-16 Welsh medium school which will be sited at Withybush, Haverfordwest.

The specific site of the new secondary school is still unknown; there is several in contention, including the site of Tasker Milward, Sir Thomas Picton, or a new site entirely. Also discussed as a possibility was a split site; however, this is now increasingly unlikely.

The new school will feature sixth form provision with ‘delivery to be in line with any future arrangements for Pembrokeshire’.

Three smaller 11-19 schools to be sited in Milford Haven, Greenhill and Pembroke also feature in the newly proposed plans. The current school of Pembroke had been hoping for a new vocational centre as an off-shoot of Pembrokeshire College; however, decisions taken by PCC in July have likely brought such plans to a close.

Presenting at the seminar, Director for Children and Schools Kate Evans-Hughes also stated the need for a ‘revised federation model’ for secondary school provision in Pembrokeshire.

Reiterating this point, and largely proposing a new set of guidelines regarding sixth form provision, was Frank Ciccotti of the Pembrokeshire Association of Secondary Headteachers (PASH).

In what seemed to suggest a consolidation of post-16 education in the county, PASH said: “The larger the school, the more viable, allowing greater investment in A level teaching.”

PASH also stated, in its presentation, that ‘no sixth form can survive alone and offer the full range of subjects’, and furthermore suggested that there would be ‘significant benefits from a school of 500+ in sixth form, as regards the ability to offer more subjects and deliver surpluses’.

With reference to the financial viability of the current model, it was suggested that subjects currently require at least 15 students to achieve viability.

Taking only AS level into account, in the north of the county, Ysgol Bro Gwaun currently has no subjects which fill this quota. Ysgol Dewi Sant has four (out of 11 subjects); English Literature, Chemistry, Maths and Religious Studies.

Institutions in Haverfordwest fare slightly better, with Pembrokeshire College achieving the 15 students mark in 13 out of 15 subjects offered, while Sir Thomas Picton currently meets the target in 12 out of 19 subjects. Tasker Milward, however, only achieves the target in three subjects; Chemistry, Biology and Psychology.

The south of the county appears in a similar situation to the north, with Milford Haven, Greenhill and Pembroke collectively offering 11 subjects which have 15 students or more – out of a collective subject count of 56.

With the figures to hand, Mr Ciccotti suggested ‘there is limited strategic planning of what is taught where’ and, as such, went on to echo the words of Kate Evans-Hughes in calling for a ‘federation model’ and a ‘duty to collaborate’.

Justifying the need for a federation model, Mr Ciccotti said that the current situation means there is ‘no consistency of subjects offered across the county’, with subjects often based on ‘historic legacy’. He also added that the best teachers may not be available in each school. This has resulted in duplication of subjects and resources being stretched, and students being forced to ‘travel to get their choice, or select subjects based on logistics’, Mr Campion added.

Also expressing concern over financial sustainability, Mr Campion went on to list further justifications for a federation model. These included insufficient investment for existing facilities and technology, as well as professional development of staff. He also added that resources are diverted away from 11-16 teaching in order to support A level teaching, which is ‘not fair or appropriate’.

Mr Ciccotti has previously called on PCC in the past, repeatedly questioning the sustainability of the current secondary provision model.

Mr Ciccotti also made reference to the need for greater ‘access to technology’, suggesting that the way in which students learn is changing: “No longer are libraries the way students study.” He added that a rural community such as Pembrokeshire requires teaching methods that allow for remote learning.

In the closing stages of his presentation, speaking in regard to some form of consolidation across the county, Mr Ciccotti expressed how ‘on a combined basis, 30 subjects are viable; however, even more could be offered’.

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Pembrokeshire Leisure welcomes back school swimming

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PEMBROKESHIRE Leisure is welcoming back school swimming lessons around the county for the first time since March 2020.

Swimmers from over 20 schools will be attending in their class bubbles to enjoy learning vital water competency skills in Pembrokeshire Leisure’s six swimming pools.

In a county which is surrounded by beautiful beaches and coastline, being safe in and around water is a potentially life-saving skill.

The programme of school swimming lessons helps to achieve the Welsh national priority that every child is a swimmer by the time they leave primary school.

The National Curriculum requirement which has been designed in line with this is that every key stage 2 child should be able to:

  • Swim 25 metres with clothes on (shorts and t-shirt), then tread water for 30 seconds and demonstrate an action for getting help and move into the Heat Escape Lessening Position (H.E.L.P)
  • Demonstrate a shout and signal action to attract attention.

The first school to return was Ysgol Glannau Gwaun at Fishguard Leisure Centre and there are now 20 primary schools which will be attending swimming lessons around Pembrokeshire.

On Monday 14 th June, Coastlands County Primary School attended and their Head Teacher Sonja Groves said: “We are delighted to finally get back to swimming after such a long time away. The children were so happy to be back in the water learning and enjoying. Swimming is a vital life skill which helps to keep the children of Pembrokeshire safe in and around all types of water.”

Leisure Services Manager Gary Nicholas said: “It is fantastic to be able to safely welcome back school swimming to our facilities. Primary school aged children have missed over a years’ worth of swimming lessons and Pembrokeshire Leisure are committed to supporting the aim of every child a swimmer by age 11.

“We will continue to do this by delivering quality school swimming lessons following the Swim Wales Nofio Ysgol programme, using the Free Swimming Initiative to provide targeted sessions for the most deprived swimmers and by continuing to provide swimming lessons at all sites in our Learn to Swim programme.”

For more information about how you can book your child swimming lessons and support their journey to becoming a competent swimmer, contact your local leisure centre.

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Landmarc flies the flag at local training camp to celebrate Armed Forces Week

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TO CELEBRATE Armed Forces Week 2021 and the contribution made by local military personnel, Landmarc Support Services (Landmarc) has raised the Armed Forces Day flag at Castlemartin Training Area in Pembrokeshire.

Following an unprecedented year for the UK’s troops as they responded to the challenges raised by the pandemic, Landmarc, which manages the UK Defence Training Estate in partnership with Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), wanted to extend an extra special thank you, by flying the official Armed Forces Day flag at military training estates across the UK, including local camp, Castlemartin.

Landmarc employees were joined by Armed Forces personnel and staff from DIO to witness the raising of the flag, where it will fly proudly until Armed Forces Week comes to a close on the 28th of June.

This Armed Forces Week, Landmarc has pledged its support and sponsorship of Team Emotive in its mission to complete one of the world’s most difficult ocean rowing challenges – the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – all in the name of raising money for mental health charity, Veterans at Ease.

Made up of four Armed Forces veterans, including one Landmarc employee, Team Emotive is preparing to travel 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. Rowing two hours on, two hours off for forty days, this challenge will push the team to its limits both physically and mentally. 23 rd June 2021

In addition, Landmarc has also announced its official partnership with the Armed Forces charity, SSAFA, working together to support veterans as they transition into civilian life.

Mark Neill, Managing Director at Landmarc, comments: “Each year, every one of us at Landmarc gives thanks to our troops during this special week. As part of the 25 per cent of veterans and reservists that make up Landmarc’s workforce, I know first- hand how important this event is for morale within the Forces community.

“It’s always fantastic to see so many people and organisations come together each year for Armed Forces Week, but the events of the last fifteen months have heightened our gratitude. The efforts from our servicemen and women have been immense and impossible to ignore in the nation’s fight against COVID-19; with our own staff working alongside the military to support the demands of the training estate as it hosts troops from across the country.”

For more information on Landmarc Support Services, please visit www.landmarcsolutions.com.

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Endurance runner tackles Pembrokeshire Coast

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ENDURANCE runner Sean Conway has successfully completed his epic series of marathons in the UK’s National Parks.

On Thursday, June 17, Sean tackled the Pembrokeshire coast, running from Newport to Dinas Head and back, fuelled by sports nutrition brand ‘Grenade’.

Sean, who is from North Wales, has ran the length of Britain before but says this was the longest stretch of days where he has had to constantly do a marathon every day.

Speaking of his run in Newport, Sean said: “It was so hilly. Honestly, the weather was amazing. It wasn’t too hot and there were some nice views along the way. At Dinas Head, it was amazing looking down at the lagoons and there are some amazing rock formations.”

He took six hours to complete his marathon but there was little time for recovery as he moved on to his final run in Snowdonia the day after.

“This was my second-last marathon so my body was feeling pretty battered and I’ve had to do it fully self-supported so I was doing one run out then back to the car and then out again”, Sean added.

“With covid we’ve all been staying at home more so I wanted to show off how amazing the National Parks are.

“There will be more of us visiting as restrictions are eased but we don’t want to ruin it by being silly.”

Sean was provided with his nutrition for the runs by Grenade and he said he ‘would not have been able to survive without them’.

In the morning he would have an energy drink which contained vitamins and electrolites and he would also mix this in with his water for some of his runs.

Sean would also have protein bars to give him an extra boost as he tried to keep on top of his protein intake.

“Pembrokeshire was so scenic. When I announced the runs this was the run that stood out online and I was really looking forward to doing it. We’ll definitely be coming back soon” Sean concluded.

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