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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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Milford Mercury to cease publication on August 20

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NEWSQUEST, the publishers of the Western Telegraph and Milford Mercury has moved to reassure their readers after deciding to close the Milford Mercury down.

The edition of August 20, 2020 will be the last date that that newspaper will be printed, the company has confirmed.

In a letter to newsagents dated August 6, Group Editor Fiona Phillips said: “Covid-19 has affected many businesses across Wales, particularly news brands that operate in similar local markets. The Milford Mercury is one of those news brands affected by the loss of casual sales  as well as by the turn-down in the advertising market.”

Fiona Phillips said that the Mercury website would continue to operate.

She added: “I want to re-assure Milford of our continued support through the Western Telegraph.”

Cllr Viv Stoddart said: “As the founding editor of the Milford Mercury it is sad news to  hear of the closure of the print  copy of the weekly newspaper.

“The Milford Mercury was  launched at the height of the 1992 recession.
“Despite the downturn in the economy, as  family team, Tessa (marketing) Helen (chief sub) Mike (sport) ably assisted by Claire Beavan, and the
wonderful support of our advertisers, volunteer contributors, and readers, the Merc  proved to be a success with the community.
“The reason for hitting the news stands with a new weekly was that Pembrokeshire’s largest town was worthy of, and deserved its own voice.
“From our  small, but beautiful beginnings, the Merc went from strength to strength.
“Its unique selling point was  bold investigative journalism, excellent local news coverage,  engaging readers in fun items such as Page Five Fellas, Where are they now photos, the Merc Abroad, sport coverage,  and Old Grumpy’s popular column holding the elite establishment to account.
“As circulation increased we were able to recruit more wonderful staff to create a very happy team.
“I remember hard work by everyone to make the independent weekly a success; the stress of meeting deadlines was leavened by office banter, goodwill, and laughter, resulting in very happy Merc memories.”

MORE TO FOLLOW ON THIS DEVELOPING STORY

Latest Milford Mercury logo

 

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Johnston: Police appeal for witnesses

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POLICE have again appealed for witnesses after a collision in Johnston, near Haverfordwest, on Wednesday (August 5).

A boy on a scooter sustained minor injuries during the collision, which took place at around 4.20pm. A red 4×4 is believed to have been involved also.

Anyone who was in the area of the St Peters Road pelican crossing, or nearby Langford road, and either witnessed the collision or who has CCTV that covers this area is asked to get in touch.

You can telephone 101, visit bit.ly/DPPReportOnline, or email contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired you can text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Dyfed-Powys Police Ref DP-20200805-249

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Police investigate ‘Chinese government vehicle’ spotted near Puma Oil Terminal

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POLICE have confirmed that they are conducting “the appropriate enquiries” after a suspicious vehicle was spotted in the vicinity of Puma Oil Terminal on Saturday afternoon (Aug 8).

Following a tip off a Herald reporter was dispatched to the area, and saw a black Volvo SUV with three IC5 (Korean, Japanese or Chinese) looking males inside the vehicle. The vehicle had diplomatic number plates identifying that it belonged to the Chinese government.

However, a DVLA check suggested that the plates were registered to a BMW and not the Volvo they were displayed upon.

South Hook LNG security was notified as a precaution.

A police spokesman said: “Members of the public are advised to contact the police to report any suspicious activity or incidents.”

Both the UK and US governments are currently on alert following incidents of spying relating to key infrastructure, computer systems and state secrets by the Chinese authorities.

[The image used in this report is a computer generated artist’s impression.]

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