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Schools: Foreign language learning in Pembrokeshire down 52% in ten years

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FOREIGN languages are being squeezed out of school timetables by “core” subjects like the Welsh Baccalaureate, a survey suggests.

Pembrokeshire has the largest drop in language learning in Wales.

It found more than a third of schools had dropped one or more languages at GCSE in the last five years.

Teachers also said the perception modern languages were “too hard” was also influencing their uptake.

Schools and colleges were asked for reasons why there had been a major decline in pupils taking subjects such as French and German.

There has been a 29% fall in language GCSE entries in Wales in five years – a steeper fall than the rest of the UK. The Welsh Government said its new curriculum would improve the situation.

Pembrokeshire saw a halving of language GCSEs sat by students from 2013 to 2017 – down 52%
Wales has seen a bigger decline in pupils learning foreign languages than in any other part of the UK – England has seen an 11% drop in the last five years, while in Northern Ireland it was 12% and 19% in Scotland.

Our county is among the 10 local authorities across the UK to see the biggest drop in language learning.

The only increase in Wales was in Anglesey – up 12% – while Cardiff saw the smallest decrease of 9%.

Some schools also mentioned that modern languages were competing with Welsh for space in the timetable, while extra time for English and maths were also highlighted.

A spokesperson for Pembrokeshire County Council said: “The decline in uptake of Modern Foreign Languages in Pembrokeshire Secondary Schools in recent years has multiple causes.

“There has been a squeeze on curriculum time in Key Stage Four as schools have accommodated two Mathematics GCSEs, compulsory Welsh GCSE and the universal adoption of the Welsh Baccalaureate.

“This has led to a reduction in option blocks presented to learners in Year 9.”

The spokesperson added: “The number of option subjects presented has also reduced as falling secondary school rolls, and associated core budgets, have forced governing bodies to restructure curriculum delivery models to remain within budget.”

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Conservatives hold on to Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat

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THE CONSERVATIVES have held on to their Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat despite Labour closing the gap.

Sam Kurtz will take over the seat from the outgoing Angela Burns who held a majority of 3,400 at the last election.

This time, the gap was just 936 to Labour’s Hassan Riaz who picked up 10,304 votes.

Plaid Cymru’s Cefin Campbell picked up 6,615 votes.

The turnout in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire was slightly up to 52.12% from 51.2% in 2016.

However, with a larger electorate thanks to votes for 16/17-year-olds, the number of votes cast went up by almost 3,000.

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Paul Davies re-elected as Conservatives hold Preseli Pembrokeshire

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PAUL DAVIES has been re-elected to represent the Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency.

He won with 12,295 votes, while there were 10,895 votes for Labour’s Jackie Jones.

Plaid Cymru candidate Cris Tomos gained just over 6,000 votes and there were also 1,239 for Reform UK candidate Alan Dennison.

There were over 3000 more votes cast in 2016, down largely in part to the fact that 16 and 17 year olds were able to vote in this election.

Both the Conservatives and Labour received more votes than before while the gap to Labour closed to just 1,400.

After being elected, Paul Davies said he would continue to ‘fight for Pembrokeshire’ and thanked those who had been involved in his campaign.

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Former Cardigan Castle director sentencing delayed

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THE SENTENCING of a former director of Cardigan Castle who has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and theft totalling over £40,000 has been delayed.

Former director, Jac Davies, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and theft was due to be sentenced on Wednesday (May 4) at Swansea Crown Court – but has now been delayed.

Davies who held the £40,000 a year post fraudulently obtained £33,098.75 and stole a further £7,932.97 from the award winning restoration project..

Davies held his position at Cardigan Castle from September 2017 to November 2019.

The defendant has pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining £4,143.20 from the castle on December 21, 2017.

Again Davies admitted to fraudulently obtaining £28,955.55 between February 4, 2019 and November 3, 2019.

Two further charges of theft were also admitted – one charge of  theft from the castle of £1,908.18 between May 2, 2018 and May 24, 2019 and a further charge of theft from Cardigan Castle Enterprises to the sum of £6,024.79.

Dyfed-Powys Police conducted a year long investigation after being contacted by the castle board of directors.

Financial discrepancies were identified during financial monitoring.

An internal investigation was launched and Davies left his position within the castle in October 2019 following a disciplinary process.

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