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Milford Haven: Primary schools consider shutting at 12:15pm on Fridays

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PARENTS with pupils in many primary schools in Milford Haven have been told that a consultation is underway to see schools shut at 12:15pm on Fridays.

Already, parents have voiced concerns about the plans, which will see break times and lunch times shortened and lessons crammed into a longer school day on Monday to Thursday, with classes starting ten minutes earlier in the mornings.

One mother has told this newspaper that the earlier start and shorter rest times could affect children’s concentration and ability to learn in the afternoons.

A letter sent to parents in St Francis RC Primary School on Monday (Feb 18) states that the new timings are “an exciting time of change, and the shape of the New Curriculum for Wales.

The school says that the earlier finish time of a Friday “would enable pupils, parents and staff to benefit from improved wellbeing through increased family time”.

The school added that there would also be opportunities to benefit from long weekends to spend time with friends, or to engage in sport, hobbies or informal learning. It would also “further support parents who work in and run local businesses and mirror the flexibility in shift patterns shown by major employers in the local area e.g. the nine-day fortnight.”

But Tim Pratt, Director of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) Cymru says that it is an insufficiency of funding to Welsh schools is “likely to cause situations where some schools may decide to close early.”

There is currently a funding crisis in primary education in Wales and it is hard to think that a lack of money is not the reason for this change.

The proposed changes mean that staff training or inset time would increase from 23 hours per year to 61 hours a year.

Due to reduced play time and lunch breaks children’s teaching time would not be reduced.

SOUTH PEMBROKESHIRE

Pembroke Dock Community School and Ysgol Harri Tudur have both started closing early on Friday afternoons.

Ysgol Harr Tudur, a high school with around 1,500 pupils in Pembroke Dock, is open from 8.40am to 3.15pm Monday to Thursday. On Friday it shuts early with school running from 8.40am and stopping “formal learning” at 1.30pm.

It says on its website: “Our new school day includes an early finish on Fridays to allow for an extensive programme of pupil enrichment activities, whilst also enabling professional development time to support teachers.”

Pembroke Dock Community School opens at 08:45 on Fridays and shuts at 12:15pm on Fridays or 12:45pm for pupils staying for lunch.

The rest of the week it opens 8.45am with the school day ending at 3.15pm for early years and reception, 3.20pm for years one and two and 3.25pm for years three and up.

THE LEGAL ASPECT

Schools wanting to change opening and closing times must abide with the Changing of School Session Times (Wales) Regulations 2009, which includes a full consultation with, amongst others, staff, parents and the local authority.

Pembroke Dock Community School, consulted on shutting early in spring 2018. The local education authority said the main reason it gave at the time was: “To allow for additional time for staff training.”

The school added in its consultation letter: “This additional training time for staff would allow us to further upskill all staff in order to develop them into the best skilled workforce, with the aim to further improve teaching and learning for all the pupils…
“…an earlier finish time on a Friday would also enable pupils, parents and staff to benefit from improved wellbeing through increased family time. There would also be opportunities to benefit from long weekends to spend time with friends or engage with sport, hobbies and informal learning.
“It would further support our parents who run and work in local businesses and mirror the flexibility in shift patterns shown by major employers in the local area”.

There is no reference to cost saving in any of the school’s consultation correspondence but the time away from formal teaching would mean teachers had statutory time away from their classes in the week to prepare lessons. Otherwise this time out is funded by teaching assistants covering their lessons.

A Pembrokeshire County Councils spokesman told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We are aware that similar proposals are being considered elsewhere in Pembrokeshire, notably in the Milford Haven area.
“On the basis of consultation correspondence received to date, cost savings do not appear as reasons for the proposed changes.”

Tim Pratt, Director of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) Cymru, said he could not comment on schools shutting early in Pembrokeshire: “It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the decision of an individual school to close early because we don’t know the circumstances.
“However, in general, the insufficiency of funding to Welsh schools is likely to cause situations where some schools may decide to close early.
“This saves a small amount of money in terms of keeping premises open, and it means that with constrained staffing levels, schools are still able to allocate time for planning, preparation and assessment.
“The public can rest assured that schools will always take decisions in the best interests of their students and staff despite the very difficult funding conditions. But it is absolutely vital that the level of funding is improved as a matter of urgency.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “This is a decision for schools and governing bodies.
“Schools must fully consult before making any changes, ensuring that the number of teaching hours are not being compromised and that the curriculum is being delivered in its entirety.”

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Sentencing delay for money theft case

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A CROWN COURT has delayed the sentencing of a Narberth man who has admitted stealing from a local community organisation.

Lee Squelch, 37, of Caerau Farm, Llandewi Velfrey, had denied the charges but changed his plea to guilty on March 5.

However, due to over running cases at the Crown Court, the sentencing date has been put back until Wednesday, April 21 – the case was due to be concluded on April 15.

Squelch has admitted that between April 2014 and March 2018 he stole money from The Pembrokeshire Byways and Bridleways Association.

It is understood that Squelch was in a position of responsibility within the said organisation when the alleged offences took place.

Pembrokeshire Byways and Bridleways is a community focused organisation which aims to improve the bridleways around Pembrokeshire, to keep horse riders safely off the roads. It is affiliated to the British Horse Society.

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The Pembrokeshire man on the Titanic

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ON the morning of April 15 1912, in the North Atlantic some 450-miles south of Newfoundland, the RMS Titanic slowly slid beneath the sea just two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg.

Stories from that night are famous, from the lookouts misplacing their binoculars to the ship’s band playing even as the sea washed over their feet, the sinking of the Titanic holds a special place in the public consciousness and continues to grab our attention some 109 years after the ‘unsinkable’ ship sank.

Over 1500 people lost their lives in the biggest maritime naval disaster at that point.

Among the dead were American and British millionaires, White Star Line employees and countless anonymous immigrants from across Europe who were all seeking a better life in America.

908 crew were on board the Titanic when it left Southampton on its fateful maiden voyage, one of the crew was a man called Charles Essex Edwards, 38, who sometimes gave himself the first name of ‘Clement’.

Charles was born in 1862 to John and Harriet Edwards of St. Martin’s Place, Haverfordwest.

He worked as a carpenter as a 19-year-old man and would end up moving out of Pembrokeshire and going to sea.  By the time he married a lady called Lavinia Ann Poulter, from Llanstadwell, in May 1892 he was living in Newport.

Lavinia, a Pembrokeshire woman herself, was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Poulter who lived on Lawrenny Terrace in Neyland.

By 1895, Lavinia had returned to Pembrokeshire following the death of her mother. Charles and Lavinia’s marriage suffered but Charles would continue visiting Lavinia and stayed at his father-in-law’s house when he was on shore leave.

Although still married in the eyes of the law, Charles and Lavinia were basically separated by 1901.

Charles signed on to work on the brand new RMS Titanic after it had completed its sea trials in Belfast Lough, he gave his address as 7 Brunswick Square, Southampton. He worked on the Titanic as an assistant pantry-man steward who earned a monthly wage of £3 15s on his previous ship the SS Zeeland.

SS Zeeland: The ship Charles worked on before the Titanic

When RMS Titanic left Southampton a massive crowd had gathered to see the newest addition to the White Star Line fleet depart. Charles Edwards was there. He was there when the ship picked up more passengers at Cherbourg and Cobh.

He would’ve been working during the day, his job entailed keeping the ship’s pantries stocked with food and wine, a vital job on a ship with such a high-class passenger list as the Titanic.

He was, more than likely, sleeping when Frederick Fleet spotted an iceberg in the ship’s path at 11:40pm on Sunday, April 14. He would’ve been woken by the noise of metal on ice and the ship shuddering as it was torn open on the starboard side.

As the ‘unsinkable’ ship took on water Charles, as a White Star Line employee, would’ve been given the unenviable task of waking up passengers, informing them of what happened and getting them to put on their lifejackets.

Once the scale of the situation on the Titanic became apparent, the command structure effectively disintegrated.

Captain Edward Smith would’ve cut a forlorn figure as he wandered around near the wheelhouse and his last words to his crew, according to reports at the time were:

“Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you.

“You know the rule of the sea. It’s every man for himself now, and God bless you.”

This would’ve been around 2:10am, at that point Charles would’ve faced a literal up-hill battle with male members of the crew only having a 24% chance of survival and many people gathering ‘like bees’ on the stern of the stricken liner which, experts say, raised to a 12 degree angle.

The Pantryman-stewards from the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic

Many male crew members elected to stay at their posts as, according to Victorian culture it was better for men to die than to live and be perceived a coward, so the lights of the ship remained on until about 2:18am, just two minutes before Titanic broke apart and began its journey to its final resting place some 12,000ft below on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

But now you know there was a man named Charles Edwards who was born in Haverfordwest and who died when the Titanic sank in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. His body, if it was recovered, was never identified and we don’t even have a picture of him.

When news of the disaster broke, The Pembroke County Guardian described the tragedy as ‘one of the most appalling calamities in the long history of shipwreck’.

Four men from Maenclochog, it was later revealed, had a lucky escape as their plans to emigrate that April on the Titanic were thwarted by one of their number being unable to travel, so the group decided to wait for their friend. That decision saved their lives.

Pembrokeshire responded to the sinking by raising money for the Titanic Relief Fund, Pembroke Dock raised £12 2s 0d through a collection at the Royal Dockyard and, in Haverfordwest, Sidney White, who would later go on to own The Palace Cinema, hosted benefit performances to packed houses which raised £5 15s.

Lavinia, after a legal battle with Charles’ brother William, was given £192 in compensation for Charles’ death and went on to look after her father at Railway Terrace, Neyland until he passed away.

Lavinia went on to move to Middlesex where she lived until 1934. She left her estate to her chauffeur.

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Marloes pensioner in child abuse images case

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A PENSIONER has been bailed to attend Swansea Crown Court by magistrates sitting in Haverfordwest Law Courts this week.

Derek Lister, 72, of Marloes is accused of making indecent photographs of children.

He appeared before the bench, on Tuesday (Apr 13).

Lister was represented by Redkite Solicitors.

The court heard that between June 2009 and November 2019 in Marloes, Pembrokeshire, Lister allegedly created 3 indecent category A images of a child, 14 indecent category B images of a child and 152 indecent category C images of a child.

He will now appear at Swansea Crown Court on May 11 at 10am for the next hearing after the local court declined jurisdiction.

Lister has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Derek Lister: Accused of making child abuse images
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