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Education Minister announces ‘back to school’ plans for September

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DECISION backed with £29 million to recruit, recover and raise standards

The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, has today confirmed that all pupils will be able to return to school in September.

“plan to open in September with 100% of pupils physically present on school sites, subject to a continuing, steady decline in the presence of COVID-19 in the community.”

The Minister announced that:

  • Schools will return to full capacity, with only limited social distancing within
    contact groups.
  • At full operations, a contact group should consist of around 30 children. Some direct or indirect mixing between children in different contact groups will also be unavoidable, such as on transport, receiving specialist teaching or due to staffing constraints.
  • Social distancing for adults should remain in line with regulations and guidance.
    Schools will be required to minimise the risk of transmission by taking other mitigating measures using the hierarchy of risk controls.
  • Every school should continue to be “Covid Protected” – having carried out risk assessments and mitigated them with a combination of controls such as hand and surface hygiene, one-way systems and so forth.
  • If early warning information shows a local incident or outbreak then nearby schools should implement appropriate restriction measures.
  • Each school will be provided with a supply of home testing kits.

The Minister confirmed that the autumn term will start on 1 st  September and schools that can accommodate all pupils from the start of the term should do so.

The Minister outlined plans just hours after confirming the Welsh Government would make £29m available to ‘recruit, recover and raise standards’ in Welsh schools in response to the impact still felt from the pandemic.

Commenting on the additional funding announced, the Minister added: “We will recruit, recover and continue to raise standards.”

It is thought that there will be around 800 newly qualified teachers in September and around 800 supply staff currently working within Wales.

“With this funding, we will recruit the equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants throughout the next school year.

“We will target extra support at Years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages.

“The support package, provided at a school level, could include extra coaching support, personalised learning programmes and additional time and resources for exam year pupils.

“We must never lower our expectations for any of our young people, no matter their background.

“Together, we will continue to raise standards for all, reduce the attainment gap and ensure we have a system that is a source of pride and public confidence.”

Councillor Ian Roberts, WLGA Spokesperson for Education, said: “Since schools closed at the start of the crisis, many children and young people have felt anxious about loss of learning and not being able to see their friends.

The Minister’s plan today will enable schools to safely reopen classrooms from September. Local authorities will work closely with their schools to make sure that necessary arrangements are in place to abide by Welsh Government guidance.

“Our schools have been hit by severe disruption during this pandemic, and we welcome the £29m pledged by the Minister for targeted support to minimise the effects of the past few months on pupils.

We will continue to work together in partnership the safest and best possible learning experiences for our children and young people, especially in such challenging circumstances.”

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Penally asylum seekers warned for breaking Fire-Break Lockdown rules

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POLICE have warned asylum seekers staying at Penally camp that there is currently a Firebreak Lockdown in Wales, and that they must follow the rules or face legal action.

Residents in Penally have said that they have groups of asylum seekers from the facility walking through the village.

“They were shouting, and drinking with a police van following them” one resident said.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys Police issued the following statement on the incident: “On the evening of Tuesday, October 27, police were made aware that a number of men were on the village green in Penally, breaking the current Welsh Government restrictions.

“The men, from the Penally Asylum Accommodation Centre, were spoken to and advised to return to their accommodation. Officers followed the men to ensure they returned to the centre.

“Officers will always aim to engage, educate and encourage adherence to the national measures with enforcement being the last action.

“The management team at the centre will be advised so that the firebreak requirements can be reinforced to the service users resident at the centre,” they added.

Last weekend police issued a fixed penalty notice to a female who was deemed to be breaking the current lockdown rules by traveling to the Centre.

A spokesman told The Pembrokeshire Herald said: “A female who was spending time with the asylum seekers over the weekend was advised about her non-essential travel to the asylum accommodation centre”

“After failing to adhere to a warning she was issued with a Covid fixed penalty notice and made to leave the area.”

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New lockdown grants reminder for businesses in Pembrokeshire

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has begun processing applications from local businesses for the new non-repayable grants introduced by Welsh Government in response to the current ‘firebreak’
lockdown.

Applications opened on Wednesday (28th October) and will close at 5 pm on Friday, 20th November, or when the fund is fully committed.

Please be aware that to be considered for this grant you must apply via the Authority’s website and successful applications will be paid within 30 days of receipt.

Within the first 24 hours the Council received over 1,600 applications.

Applicants are requested not to contact the Authority to chase progress during this period to allow the grants team to process the applications.

The Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Paul Miller, said: “I encourage all eligible businesses to apply as soon as they can. I have asked officers to consider all applications as sympathetically as possible and where we possibly can offer support, we will.”

For more information and to make an application go to: www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

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Police investigating the death of a 50-year old man in Saundersfoot

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TWO AMBULANCES and several police vehicles were called to a property in the south of the county on Thursday.

Police have said they are investigating the death of a 50-year-old man in Saundersfoot.

Emergency services were called to Ocean Point at approximately 8pm on Wednesday (Oct 28) following concerns for the gentleman. However, sadly he had died.

A police spokesperson told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Police and ambulance attended a property in Saundersfoot shortly after 8pm last night following concerns for welfare of a resident.

“A man in his 50s had died. An investigation is underway

“There are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances.”

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