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‘We are living in a constant state of fear’, says Haverfordwest High teacher

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SCHOOLS in the county of Pembrokeshire are currently in crisis, according to a serving secondary school teacher.

The member of staff at Haverfordwest High VC School has spoken to The Herald under condition of anonymity to expose the scale of the problem.

The morale of teachers in some schools locally is “at an all time low”, this newspaper has been told.

In a brutally honest interview, in which the school is described as a ‘hell hole’, our source said that it is the view of many local teachers that the awful state of our education needs to be addressed urgently.

What our source said will shock parents across the county: “Our local schools are in a crisis right now. As a teacher I’ve never felt more fear in walking the corridors. We are literally paralysed to do anything about it. We are told all the time that it is our fault, teachers are living in a constant state of fear!”

Our teacher told us: “I can honestly say that I have wished that I would be in a car crash just to not go into work,” adding “It’s a crisis which stems from teachers being left to deal with everything with no back up at all.”

“I honestly think that Pembrokeshire County Council are failing our education system so badly. Look at what happened in Milford School on Friday (Jan 11), it’s happening all over but we are glossing over it!”

We asked if there were other teachers who felt the same, and we were told “Literally all of us”.

“Milford Haven School is in a crisis at the moment but Haverfordwest High VC School is not far behind – I do not know a single teacher who is happy.”

Welsh champion beatboxer, Mr Phormula, came to inspire Haverfordwest High School pupils in December (Pic: School)

Police called to Milford School

The comments come on the same day that police were called to Milford Haven School after a student was attacked by four others while many others stood by cheering the attackers on.

Hundreds of people are involved in debates on social media about the incident, and the initial report on The Herald website was shared over 600 times in just an hour.

The Council have confirmed that staff members called in the police. A video circulating on social media seems to show four male pupils attacking one boy, and stamping on him and kicking him.

The clip, which is nearly a minute long, appears to show a large number of pupils gathering around watching the boy being attacked.

Pembrokeshire County Council have confirmed that staff members called in the police at Milford Haven School this afternoon (Jan 11) following a disturbance.

A video circulating on social media seems to show four male pupils attacking one boy, and stamping on him and kicking him.

The clip, which is nearly a minute long, appears to show a large number of pupils gathering around watching the boy being attacked.

At around 44 seconds into the video teachers can be heard arriving on the scene.

A worried Mum, thought to be the mother of the boy who was attacked, said on Facebook: “This video shows at least four of the boys jumping and stamping on him in school. After being assured they were being dealt with… Gangs aren’t hard – one-on-one we will see how hard they think they are. Silly boys.”

A spokesman for Pembrokeshire County Council told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “The Council can confirm that police were called to Milford School today in order to minimise disruption to the learning of other pupils.”

Milford Haven School: Police were called to disturbance on Friday (Jan 11)

A troubled recent history

The council was placed in special measures following an inspection in October 2012 by the education watchdog Estyn into education services for children and young people.
In June 2014 it had been taken out of special measures after education watchdog Estyn said “significant progress” had been made.

The Estyn report said at the time: “The Chief Executive, Leader and senior officers took difficult and sensitive decisions to remove barriers to progress in order to bring about the necessary improvement.
“These decisions were implemented carefully and have resulted in a complete restructure within the Pembrokeshire Children and Schools Service. A new management team is working closely together as a cohesive group to embed change.
“The Authority now engages well with the regional consortium. Joint working arrangements with regional partners have strengthened the Authority’s capacity to challenge and support its schools.
“There is a significant change in culture within the Authority demonstrated through greater openness and transparency. The Authority’s vision and expectation for its education services are communicated clearly to schools and other partners.
“Officers and elected members have shown a willingness to work constructively with inspection, audit and regulatory bodies to identify and address shortcomings. They demonstrate a firm commitment to implement change and have an appetite for further improvement.”

But by July 2014, only weeks later, inspectors decided to take action at Tasker Milward Voluntary Controlled School in Haverfordwest after raising concerns on a visit

The previous year, education inspections body Estyn ranked the school as “adequate” and called for improvements.

A monitoring team on a follow-up visit found performance had decreased in some areas.

The 2014 visit highlighted poor performance, particularly in Key Stage 4 at the school which had around 1,100 pupils aged 11-18.

Estyn fully acknowledged the positive improvements over the two month period but they considered that there had been insufficient improvement over the preceding 12 months

In July 2016 Sir Thomas Picton School was placed in special measures by Estyn following a monitoring visit which concluded insufficient progress had been made against recommendations made in January the previous year.

The supervision by the Welsh Government lasted until April 2018.

As the special measures were lifted, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, David Lloyd, said: “This is the news we have been waiting for.
“It confirms that the bespoke support provided by the local authority and the regional consortium has been effective.
“I would also like to acknowledge the strong leadership provided by the governing body and the Acting Headteacher to bring about this success.”

The news was also welcomed by the Authority’s Director for Children and Schools, Kate Evan-Hughes.

She added: “I am delighted to see the progress made by all staff governors and pupils at the school. I would like to thank everyone for their commitment and look forward to this continuing into Haverfordwest VC High School.”

But the question is, has it?

Head of Year off with stress

Our teacher at Haverfordwest High VC School went onto explain to us that parents very often blame the teachers, and that management do so too.

Our source added: “When teachers strike about how they are being treated the Council blame them! It’s unfair; we have no say in education at all but get blamed for all its failings.

We had a group of Year 9 pupils, who surrounded a Head of Year (who has been teaching for 30 odd years) in his car, swearing and demanding he given them back a phone he had confiscated. When the parents were brought in to discuss what happened their response was ‘Well he shouldn’t have taken the phone in the first place!’

“It’s unbelievable and he got no backing from School Leadership Team – so the Head of Year was then off for about a month due to the stress it caused.

“We’ve already lost two dedicated members of staff (who had been at Tasker Milward for years) in the first term. They left at Christmas because they hated the new school so much.

“I honestly think if you asked for staff members from all schools in Pembrokeshire to message you their stories and can promise that it will be anonymous you’d be inundated!”

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “The NASUWT is being inundated with teachers that are reporting assaults happening to them on a daily basis.

“No teacher or other worker should go to work with an expectation that they should tolerate violence and abuse.

“Where violence occurs, employers should adopt a zero tolerance approach and send a strong message to parents, pupils and the community that violence against school staff is completely unacceptable.””

Haverfordwest High VC School was created by the merging of Tasker Milward and Sir Thomas Picton Schools (Pic PCC)

 

Community

Stunning mural by local artist graces Tenby’s oldest pub

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THE WELL-LOVED Coach and Horses pub, Tenby’s oldest establishment, now boasts a stunning new mural by renowned local artist Lloyd the Graffiti.

The artwork, completed on June 12, has quickly become a beloved fixture in the heart of the town, capturing the admiration and praise of residents and visitors alike.

The mural, which features a vivid depiction of the iconic Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, pays homage to his legendary visit to the pub in 1953. According to local lore, Thomas became so inebriated during his visit that he left his manuscript for “Under Milk Wood” on a stool. Lloyd’s artwork brilliantly captures this slice of literary history, merging it with a vibrant portrayal of Tenby’s charming streetscape.

The mural’s unveiling has sparked an outpouring of positive reactions on social media, highlighting the community’s appreciation for Lloyd’s exceptional talent and the mural’s contribution to the town’s cultural landscape. Guy Manning commented, “Love it, absolutely wonderful!” JenksArt added, “Well done buddy! You smashed that about time Tenby had something like this in the heart of the town.” Amanda Absalom-Lowe expressed her admiration, “Lloyd you are such an amazing artist honest to go how do you just do it!? What a talent you have in this world and show it to the world!! Amazing.” Local residents have also been sharing their joy at seeing the mural come to life over the past few days: Sarah Bolwell shared, “So amazing! We’ve loved watching this progress over the last few days, what a brilliant addition to the street.” Kath Brown humorously recounted, “Whoop whoop you finished it! Well done, it’s been a real treat to watch the progress and heckle you as we’ve gone in and out!”

Anna Davies, a top fan, declared, “Wow that’s amazing it’s absolutely awesome such talent Lloyd the Graffiti Dylan Thomas lives on in Tenby for everyone to admire and talk about.” Other reactions included Nicola Newell: “Amazing,” Danielle Coles: “Brilliant,” Cheryl Hunt: “Stupendous,” Theresa Evans: “Shouldn’t they have a Welsh flag out the front?” Hazel Phillips: “Amazing,” and Penny Rossiter: “This looks amazing.”

Lloyd the Graffiti’s mural has not only enhanced the aesthetic appeal of the Coach and Horses pub but has also reignited the town’s enthusiasm for public art. Many residents hope this will be the first of many such projects, bringing more color and creativity to Tenby’s streets. As the mural continues to draw attention, it stands as a testament to the vibrant artistic talent within the community and the timeless allure of Dylan Thomas’s legacy. Visitors to Tenby are encouraged to stop by the Coach and Horses pub to experience this remarkable piece of art firsthand.

For those interested in seeing more of Lloyd’s work or commissioning a piece, he can be contacted through his social media platforms, where he regularly shares his latest projects and artistic endeavors.

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Community

Tragedy on Teifi: Tributes paid to Leon Vernon-White

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FOLLOWING the tragic incident last week, police have identified the canoeist who tragically lost his life in a river accident in west Wales as Leon Vernon-White. The 24-year-old, originally from Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, was described by his family as a ‘free-spirited’ individual and a ‘character’ who brought joy to those around him.

Leon was reported missing in the River Teifi near Cardigan on Thursday, June 6. His body was recovered near Cardigan Bridge in the early hours of the following morning, after a thorough search by multiple emergency services. The search involved Dyfed-Powys Police, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, HM Coastguard, and the RNLI.

RNLI Cardigan Lifeboat also played a critical role in the search, deploying both their D-class and Atlantic 85 lifeboats to scour the river and estuary areas.

Leon Vernon-White was well-known in his hometown of Tewkesbury, where he often entertained locals with his singing and guitar playing on the streets. His family described him as a person who had the remarkable ability to make everyone smile. Despite his mischievous and stubborn streak, he was deeply caring, loving, and loyal. His talents extended beyond music; he was also a jewellery artist and had a keen interest in science.

In a heartfelt statement, Leon’s family expressed their immense loss, saying, “He will be a huge loss, and there will always be love in our hearts for him.” They also extended their gratitude to the emergency services and the support they have received from friends and family during this difficult time.

The RNLI Cardigan Lifeboat station detailed their involvement in the search on their Facebook page. They reported that their crew was paged at 19:52 on June 6 to assist in the search for a missing person in the River Teifi. The search operation saw the Cardigan D-class and Atlantic 85 lifeboats navigating the river, while the Fishguard lifeboat monitored the estuary for any signs of the missing canoeist.

Sadly, after hours of searching, the crew of the D-class lifeboat was involved in the recovery of Leon’s body from the river. The lifeboats were meticulously prepared for service again after the operation, demonstrating the RNLI’s dedication and professionalism even in the face of such tragic outcomes.

The RNLI expressed their deepest condolences to all those affected by this tragedy, echoing the sentiments of a community mourning the loss of a vibrant young man.

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Education

Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi’s model train club appeals for donations

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THE YSGOL Penrhyn Dewi Model Train Club, is reaching out to the community for donations of old Hornby 00 gauge rail tracks and accessories. The club, which has been a staple of the school’s extracurricular activities, aims to enrich its collection and create more intricate and engaging layouts for its members.

In an appeal reminiscent of a bygone era, the school has issued a traditional wanted poster, urging those with unused or forgotten model railway items to consider contributing to the club. The poster, which features a vintage steam locomotive and a railway crossing sign, reads: “Wanted: Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi VA Model Train Club is looking for donations of any old Hornby 00 2 rail track or accessories no longer used or needed.”

The initiative, spearheaded by enthusiastic students, seeks to foster creativity and technical skills through the hobby of model railroading. The club members, dressed in their school blazers, are pictured eagerly overseeing their current collection, which, while cherished, is in need of expansion to accommodate their growing ambitions.

Donations can be left at the Dewi Campus reception or, if necessary, arrangements can be made for items to be collected. The poster concludes with a heartfelt “Diolch!”, expressing the club’s gratitude in advance.

This appeal not only highlights the club’s dedication to preserving a traditional pastime but also underscores the educational value such activities offer. Engaging in model railroading allows students to learn about engineering, history, and geography in a hands-on and enjoyable manner.

As the Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi VA Model Train Club looks to the community for support, it stands as a testament to the enduring charm and educational potential of model trains. The school hopes that with the generosity of the public, they can continue to inspire and educate the next generation of railway enthusiasts.

For those interested in contributing, further details can be found on the school’s website or by contacting the Dewi Campus directly.

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