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Progress, but significant concerns in Pembrokeshire’s schools

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A CLAIM in an online BBC news report that an Estyn inspection of Pembrokeshire’s schools found performance in literacy and numeracy is ‘poor’ is WRONG.

The fifteen-page Estyn report into Pembrokeshire County Council’s handling of education in our county does not contain that assertion, The Herald can confirm.

The Estyn report says that Pembrokeshire’s education is IMPROVING but that the rate of improvement is too slow, inconsistently achieved, and there is too much variation in standards in schools.

The report does, however, state that literacy and numeracy was something the County’s schools needed to improve upon.

Estyn has left the local authority with clear recommendations. These include:
• raising standards in literacy numeracy and Welsh second language.
• improving outcomes for learners eligible for free school meals.
• improving teaching and leadership
• evaluating its work and planning for improvement.

The Estyn report states that Pembrokeshire’s education service is causing ‘significant concern’. However, our Friday print edition will contain an interview with both Cabinet Member Guy Woodham and Acting Director of Education Steven Richards-Downes which suggests that concerns are being addressed and that the Council has been repeatedly reassured by Estyn it is on the right track.

There are significant challenges for Pembrokeshire’s schools which should not be downplayed. There is a significant disconnection between the performance of primary schools and secondary schools and a growing feeling that pupils in Key Stage 3 are let down by being in ‘a holding pattern’ between the end of their primary education and the start of their GCSE courses.
Strong progress has been made in child safeguarding and the report recognises a much-improved picture in that respect.

Pupils’ behaviour in ‘a minority of secondary schools is not good enough’, the report’s authors state. They also state that poorly-behaved students are the subject of a disproportionate number of short-term exclusions from school.

Councillor Guy Woodham, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, commented: “While there is recognition by Estyn of the progress made since 2012, the pace of change across the local authority has been inconsistent and has not taken place fast enough.

“In going forward it is important that all those involved in education now focus on urgently raising performance outcomes and improving the quality of teaching across all our schools.
“Our ambition remains the same that every learner achieves more than they thought possible.”
Our detailed coverage is in this Friday’s paper

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Business

Further Covid-19 business support packages to become available soon

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PEMBROKESHIRE businesses that remain affected by Covid-19 restrictions can check their eligibility for a new package of support from the Welsh Government.

This latest support package will help those businesses eligible to meet ongoing costs through to the end of June as they prepare for re-opening and more normal trading conditions.

Businesses that stand to benefit include:

  • nightclubs and late entertainment venues
  • events and conference venues not covered by the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF)
  • hospitality and leisure businesses, including restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • supply chain business, which have been materially impacted by restrictions

An eligibility checker has opened on the Business Wales website so businesses can find out how much support they are likely to be entitled to and how to apply.

See more information and check your business’ eligibility at: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/

Funding will be calculated based on the size of the business and the type of restrictions they are under.

Businesses will be able submit applications to the Welsh Government from 24th May 2021 for grants of up to £25,000 and by the end of the month to Pembrokeshire County Council for smaller fixed Discretionary Grants.

To keep up to date and see the future application process for the Discretionary Grants please see: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

The above link will be be updated with the latest information.  

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£50,000 funding windfall for low carbon community projects

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OVER £50,000 of funding has been awarded to local projects through the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF).

Since June 2020, the Fund has focussed on supporting community-led projects that contribute towards a reduction in carbon and help respond to the climate emergency. These can include:

·       Installing renewable energy generation facilities, such as solar panels, to a community building

·       Transport initiatives that promote reduced carbon emissions

·       The installation of community facilities that minimise waste, such as water fountains

·       Any other community-based carbon reduction initiatives.

Tenby RFC were among those to benefit from the most recent round of grants with an initiative to install recycling bins and litter pick stations at each of the sports facilities in the town.

There were two successful applications from the Solva area – one for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels at Solva Community Clubhouse, and the other from the Community Organised Allotment for Solva Tenants (COAST) to help with set-up costs.

Others to be awarded an SDF grant were the Paul Sartori Foundation and the EcoDewi community group. The Paul Sartori Foundation’s project involved fitting of tracking devices onto warehouse vans to enable route optimisation and increased fuel economy; while EcoDewi secured funding to support a part-time role organising community engagement events and volunteering activities, and developing wider community partnerships.

Jessica Morgan, Funding and Grants Officer for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust said: “It’s been wonderful to see such variety in the applications we’ve received, and the innovative climate emergency solutions suggested by communities in the National Park.

“We look forward to receiving the next round of applications, and would encourage any community-led group or organisation that needs support to fund projects that will help reduce carbon and/or respond to climate change to apply as soon as possible.”

The next deadline for SDF applications is Friday 10 September 2021.

To find out more about SDF grants, and to apply online or download the application form please visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/sdf.  

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News

Appeal after woman sexually assaulted on cycle path near Haverfordwest

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POLICE officers in Haverfordwest are appealing for witnesses after a woman was sexually assaulted at approximately 4.30pm on Sunday (May 16).

The woman was walking along the cycle path between Haverfordwest and Tiers Cross when she was approached by a man who threatened and assaulted her, before walking away towards Haverfordwest town.

The male is described as a white male, between 5ft 4 and 5ft 11 tall , normal build with a welsh accent. He has short dark hair, a beard and a moustache, brown eyes, and wearing light blue jeans, navy/dark blue jersey with grey sleeves. Anyone who saw a man matching this description in the area between 3.30pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested and is currently in police custody.

The cycle path is currently closed while the investigation continues.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, who is leading the investigation, said “Incidents of this nature are extremely rare in the Dyfed-Powys area. The public may see an increased presence of police officers in the coming days as police investigate the incident. Anyone with concerns or information that could help our enquiries can speak to those officers or contact police. While a man was quickly arrested we would still like to speak to anyone who saw a man matching the above description in the area yesterday afternoon.”

Anyone with information which could help the investigation is asked to contact police. This can be done online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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