Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

Education Minister announces ‘back to school’ plans for September

Published

on

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.”

News

Chief inspector of Immigration to review use of Penally Training Camp

Published

on

THE CHIEF INSPECTOR of Borders and Immigration, Mr David Bolt, is to commence a review into the use of hotels and barracks in the UK, including the Penally Asylum camp.

It comes as Pembrokeshire County Council continues to seek a reimbursement for its involvement with the camp.

At Tuesday’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Jonathan Preston said it was ‘shocking’ that the home office was not engaging with the council and said that they should ‘keep knocking on the door’.

Cllr David Pugh added: “Let’s get the tanks out and start shooting some really heavy bullets at them (Home Office).”

It was confirmed at the meeting that there had still been no agreement with the Home Office on any repayments.

Camp residents protest in Penally (Image G Davies Photography / Herald )

Director of Finance Jon Haswell said that costs had been estimated at around £55,000 a month.

Cllr Pugh said it was ‘horrendous’ that the authority would be almost half a million pounds out of pocket.

Cllr Preston also questioned if Penally Community Council would be able to recover costs for the work they had done but officers said they would need to look into that matter.

The use of the camp is set to end on March 21 and it is anticipated that a planning application will be made to extend that use.

The council’s Head of Planning, David Popplewell said that if there were any breaches of planning conditions that they would be able to consider enforcement action.

He also clarified the two conditions of the use of the camp which state that the applicant must notify the planning authority after the commencement of the use and that it should be returned to its former state once it has ended.

Use of the site commenced on September 21, 2020 and a letter to the authority indicated that the applicants would be applying for a six-month extension.

Demo to support asylum seekers in Penally in 2020 (Photo Herald)

There would need to be a pre-application consultation and any application would go to the council’s Planning Committee.

Mr Popplewell added that he had been in touch with the planning consultant regularly but said that he hadn’t had a further response.

Director of Development, Dr Steven Jones confirmed that the Chief Inspector would be commencing a review into the use of hotels, barracks and asylum accommodation. He added that the call for evidence was open until February 19.

Councillors agreed that the matter should be brought back to the committee if and when the need arises.

Cllr Pugh also asked about the council’s response to the recent marches into Tenby by some of the camp users which caused some anxiety amongst residents worried about the spread of Covid-19.

Rooms in the camp are said to be too small for social distancing (Pic: Camp user)

Darren Thomas, Head of Infrastructure, Transport & Environment, said that it was a public order policing issue and that it was for them to decide how they should police it.

Cllr Pugh said he didn’t think that the council should be criticised as much as it had been on social media.

Discussions have been ongoing with other organisations about understanding and addressing the impact and rise of extremist activity upon the County.

The report to the committee also stated that there had been opposition to the camp being used by the asylum seekers and that there was also support for those supporting the asylum seekers.

Mr Thomas said that this was not a reference to any specific group and said that it was a general point.

The camp was originally set up for the use of 250 occupants but many of them complained about overcrowded conditions and some have already been moved.

At the time of the report being written, on January 8, there were 124 people still in the camp. At the meeting on Tuesday, Mr Thomas confirmed that as of January 21, that number had gone down to 118.

Transfers to and from the camp have been halted under the Welsh Government’s Alert Level 4 coronavirus restrictions, except for medical or safety reasons.

Continue Reading

News

From ‘coke to smoke’: Huge haul of contraband found in Hakin drug den

Published

on

POLICE have released a photograph of a haul of illegal drugs found during a raid on a property in Hakin in recent days.

Posting the photo on their twitter feed, police said: “A successful warrant executed by Neighbourhood Police Team and Response Teams in Gelliswick Road.

“Class A, B and C drugs and substantial cash seizures. Two arrests on suspicion of supply and two dealt with for possession offences.

Suggesting they were supplied information from locals, police said they thought this was an “excellent example of police and communities working together.”

Continue Reading

News

Police investigating missing charity funds at Narberth fire station

Published

on

Where is the cash?: Money from fundraisers was never banked

DYFED-POWYS Police have confirmed to The Pembrokeshire Herald that they are investigating allegations of dishonesty concerning raffle and fundraising efforts involving Narberth Fire Station.

The Herald was contacted by members of the public and family members of Narberth firefighters expressing their concern that ‘a considerable amount of money’ that has been raised for charitable causes has gone missing from the station.

Alarm bells started ringing last year, after funds raised in memory of local firefighter Josh Gardener, were never banked.

Josh Gardener, tragically died aged just 35-years-old, during a training exercise conducted by Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) in September 2019.

A source told us each local station took charge of their own fundraising for the cause, but it was overseen by Milford Haven Station and all raised money was to be collated together by staff there.

It is alleged that around £500 was raised by Narberth station. However, officers at Milford Haven raised suspicions, after no money was received.

A source also told us that each year, two members from Narberth’s crew don full uniform to sell raffle tickets in the town’s High Street.

One source claims that those concerned have been unlawfully fundraising, as they do not have the relevant licences in place to do so.

We asked Pembrokeshire County Council to confirm whether Narberth Fire Station had an up to date licence which would enable them to fundraise publicly in such a manner.

A spokesperson said: “Pembrokeshire County Council has contacted the organisation involved for further information and to offer advice on the rules regarding lotteries.”

It is alleged money raised from these raffle tickets, which sources tell us is also ‘a considerable amount’, is unaccounted for.

We asked Dyfed-Powys Police to confirm if they were investigating allegations of theft at the station, a spokesperson said: “We are investigating an allegation of theft from Narberth Fire Station.

We were told: “Enquiries are ongoing.”

The raffle tickets were sold on the basis that all funds raised were being donated to The Firefighters Charity and Narberth First Responders.

We contacted The Firefighters’ Charity to ask if they had been receiving regular donations from the station, they told us that they had been asked by MAWWFR not to comment.

All monies raised from fundraising is said to be kept in a locked safe within Narberth Station before it is banked, said our source.

They added that the only crew members who have keys which would enable them to have access to the safe are those who’ve sold the raffle tickets.

Due to an ongoing active police investigation into the thefts, we are unable to name the two individuals.

It has also been brought to our attention that since the investigation opened, last year, a member of staff allegedly took early retirement due to illness.

This newspaper has recontacted Dyfed-Powys Police to clarify whether they suspect a break-in or another possible explanation, we await their response.

However, the police have made no appeals to the press or public for information that would relate to the possibility that a burglary may have occurred.

The Herald asked MAWWFRS whether they had a licence in place to sell the raffle tickets lawfully, did all raised funds reach the advertised charities, and what procedures would they be implementing to ensure funds raised reached their intended target.

A spokesperson said: “Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service take any allegations around the conduct of our staff seriously and have procedures in place to deal with such concerns appropriately.

“We also take our responsibilities in terms of respecting the personal confidentiality of all employees seriously and as such will not comment further in this regard.”

Continue Reading
News13 hours ago

Chief inspector of Immigration to review use of Penally Training Camp

THE CHIEF INSPECTOR of Borders and Immigration, Mr David Bolt, is to commence a review into the use of hotels...

News19 hours ago

From ‘coke to smoke’: Huge haul of contraband found in Hakin drug den

POLICE have released a photograph of a haul of illegal drugs found during a raid on a property in Hakin...

News22 hours ago

Suspended sentence activated after woman smeared faeces on car

A WOMAN who smeared faeces on a car just hours after being handed a suspended sentence has been jailed. Lucy...

News2 days ago

County Council seeking ‘full cost recovery’ for Penally Camp involvement

COUNCILLORS will hear an update on Tuesday (January 26) on the County Council’s involvement with Penally Asylum Camp. The council...

News2 days ago

Concern over misuse of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard

PEMBROKESHIRE residents are being asked not to wear the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower as proof of exemption from wearing a face...

News2 days ago

Pembrokeshire residents aged 75 to 79 years to receive their first COVID vaccine

LETTERS will arrive in the coming days inviting Pembrokeshire residents aged 75 to 79 years to receive their first COVID...

News3 days ago

A4076 reopens following accident where everyone ‘miraculously walked away’

THERE was a road traffic accident in icy and snowy conditions on the A4076 Dredgemans Hill on Sunday afternoon. Emergency...

News4 days ago

Paul Davies MS quits as Leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd

PRESELI Pembrokeshire MS Paul Davies quit as Leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd this morning. The Conservatives’ Chief Whip...

News5 days ago

Asylum seekers to be moved out of the former Penally Army Training Camp

ASYLUM SEEKERS are to be moved out of the former Penally Army Training Camp; the Home Office have confirmed. Camp...

Education6 days ago

Doubts cast over Milford Haven secondary school refurbishment

FRESH doubts have been cast over the refurbishment of Milford Haven Secondary School. At a meeting of the Schools and...

Popular This Week