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Castle School, Haverfordwest celebrates 100% A*-C GCSEs

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DESPITE the challenges of the pandemic, pupils at Castle School in Haverfordwestsays it has achieved 100% A*-C grades in this year’s GCSE exams. One average, each pupil attained between one and two grades higher than the grades that were projected for them at the time of joining the school in year 7. The majority are now going on to the school’s new Sixth Form on Snowdrop Lane in Haverfordwest, which opens in September.

The school’s headteacher Michael Hughes has praised the efforts of staff and pupils, who continued to work remotely throughout the pandemic.

“Nurturing these pupils, witnessing them bloom academically to reach the attainment levels they have so tirelessly worked for, is the reason we as teachers do this job,” he said.

“With the pandemic affecting everyone, watching the statistics of cases and trying to navigate the changing Covid guidelines, it would be easy to forget that the last 18 months of our individual and business lives, equates to two years of potentially disrupted education. When you reflect on this and realise that these pupils hadn’t necessarily started studying GCSEs when their school life was turned upside down, for our Year 9s, who took some GCSEs early, and Year 11s to come away with 100% A*-C, is such a tremendous achievement. 

“Here at Castle school, we are very familiar with the process of delivering high achieving students. To us the measure of success is not simply how many A*s are awarded, but whether we have managed to enable every student to reach their true potential in every subject. It’s pretty much accepted that when a pupil enters senior school with us in Year 7, they are working towards GCSEs. In fact, we actively measure and track each individual student in every subject with this attainment in mind. However, while the final grades are the destination, at Castle school, it is the journey that is the most important. 

Castle School’s main building in Haverfordwest (Image CS)

“The pandemic prevented the tried and tested methods of teaching, challenged by remote education, so this ‘journey’ had a different route. You really have to give high praise to the students and teachers on their resilience, skills and focus. Throughout remote schooling it was imperative that pupils’ progress didn’t wane – we had no idea what these final assessments were going to look like, the goal posts kept changing throughout – exams were on, then off again.

“As educators we found out the plan on the evening news like everyone else. So we ensured that our remote education was as complete, and as close of an experience to being at school. We stuck to the same timetable, taught every lesson and delivered our schemes of work. Our school prides itself in the best possible pastoral care, so we also ensured that pupils, and staff, were as happy and healthy as possible. Knowing that each and every pupil came away with a B grade is fantastic, but the fact that we have managed to averagely enable each pupil to achieve between 1 and 2 grades higher than expected since joining Year 7 is, I feel testament to these efforts, and really all that matters to us as a school.

“Probably the most comforting fact is that we know, with high confidence, that these pupils will go on to the next phase of their lives, be that more GCSE’s, A levels, BTEC’s or the workplace, and be setup to succeed. Best of all, with the majority of pupils joining our newly opened sixth form centre, we can continue to nurture resilient, ambitious and enterprising young people.”

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‘KINDNESS WILL ALWAYS OVERCOME’

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Pupils at Pembrokeshire Learning Centre re-planting their garden with the members of the youth engagement programme at MAWW Fire and Rescue Service.

GESTURES of kindness towards a group of young people have been praised.

The Pembrokeshire Learning Centre in Neyland suffered vandalism in September, where vegetable patches planted by pupils were destroyed.

The discovery of the damage upset and affected many pupils who had worked hard to grow the crops.

On hearing about the vandalism, the youth service at Mid and West Wales (MAWW) Fire and Rescue Service contacted the PLC offering to help re-plant and restore the garden.

Graham Jenkins, Service Youth Team Coordinator for MAWW Fire and Rescue Service said they had worked with the PLC on various schemes in previous years and were ‘particularly saddened to learn that the school’s garden had been vandalised in such a way’.

“Our youth engagement work has been restricted during the pandemic, but we are delighted to help these young people to re-plant their garden and, in so doing, re-energise our youth engagement programme in Pembrokeshire,” he said.

Sian Williams is Headteacher at the PLC, a school for 11-16 year olds with complex needs. She said: “We were all shocked and dismayed at the needless damage to an area where the pupils and staff had worked so hard to make into an enjoyable place to spend time. However we were touched by the outpouring of support and offers to help rectify the damage.

“One of our previous learners kindly reached out to help by donating his Education Maintenance Allowance in order to repair the damage. In addition B&Q Carmarthen donated plants to replace those destroyed, aided by MAWW Fire Service who worked alongside pupils to restore the garden to its previous state.

“We are hugely grateful, these offers restore your faith that kindness will always overcome.”

Jo Thomas, Teacher In Charge of the LRC, added: “We were so lucky to have the MAWW Fire and Rescue Service help us re-pot our garden, so it now looks good as new. We cannot thank everyone who offered help to us enough.

“It has made the young people in the PLC feel much happier because they were devastated at the damage children the same age caused, especially when they had worked so hard on the garden. All the children want to say a huge ‘thank you’.”

Local county councillor Simon Hancock said: “The ýoung people of the Pembrokeshire Learning Centre work so hard to cultivate their plants and improve their environment and it is shocking there has been this mindless vandalism. I am so grateful to the MAWW Fire and Rescue Service for their kind and timely support in putting things right.”

Cabinet Member for Education & Lifelong Learning, Cllr Guy Woodham also thanked the Fire and Rescue Service and the others who had helped stating: “When something as unkind as vandalising a school garden takes place, it is heart-warming when the community responds to address the wrong cause. I am very grateful for the continued support offered to the PLC by MAWW Fire and Rescue Service and all those who also helped restore the garden to its former glory.”

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Nigel Parlor runs Newport Marathon for Pembrokeshire NHS

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Nigel Parlor

WELL done to Nigel Parlor from Merlin’s Bridge, in Pembrokeshire, who is running the Newport Marathon to raise money for NHS mental health services in the county.

Nigel, who works for Network Rail, has been in training since June for the event, which takes place on October 24th.

As he pounds the course, Nigel is raising money for St Caradog Ward at the Bro Cerwyn Centre in Haverfordwest.

He said: “I have been suffering myself with anxiety and depression for the last year, so feel it is an appropriate area to support.

“I’m taking on the challenge of running the Newport marathon to raise money for my local mental health unit and to make people aware of the importance of talking about their mental health.”

Nigel, who has previously taken part in Long Course Weekend and other running events, added: “I am looking forward to the challenge and being part of a team to raise money for a worthwhile cause.”

To support Nigel, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nigel-parlor Nicola Llewelyn, Head of Hywel Dda Health Charities, the official charity of Hywel Dda University Health Board, said they wanted to thank Nigel for his fundraising efforts.

““The support of our local communities enables us to provide services over and above what the NHS can provide in the three counties of Hywel Dda and we are extremely grateful for every donation we receive,” said Nicola.

For more details about the charity and how you can help support local NHS patients and staff, go to www.hywelddahealthcharities.org.uk

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Pembrokeshire men run Newport Marathon to raise money for Glangwili

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Gerald and Bryan

COUSINS Bryan Hughes and Gerald Brace are running in the Newport Marathon to raise money for Prostate Cancer Services at Glangwili Hospital.

The pair are taking part in the ABP Newport Wales Marathon on 24 th October to say thank you for the treatment Bryan’s dad, Delroy Hughes, received at Glangwili Hospital after he was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in July 2019.

Gerald said: “When Delroy was diagnosed it was a huge shock and worry for him and his family. But thanks to the quick action and treatment at Glangwili Hospital, along with radiotherapy at Singleton Hospital, Delroy has now been given the all-clear.”

“Bryan and myself will be running in the Newport Marathon to raise as much money as possible to give something back to the Prostate Cancer Unit for the fantastic work they do,” added Gerald, who is a 51-year-old personal trainer and sports massage therapist from Sageston, Tenby.

Bryan, 42, a Track Section Supervisor for Network Rail, from Haverfordwest, has completed the Newport Marathon before, in 2018. Gerald has also already completed two marathons, back in 2014.

Gerald said: “Training is going well. We are both up to 16 miles and reaching the business end of the training with an 18 and 20-miler to do in the next few weeks!”

The pair, pictured with Delroy Hughes, hope to raise £1,000 and are holding a raffle in October to help boost funds.

If you would like to donate to Bryn and Gerald’s fundraiser, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gerald-brace

Nicola Llewelyn, Head of Hywel Dda Health Charities, the official charity of Hywel Dda University Health Board, said they wanted to thank Bryan and Gerald for their fundraising.

““The support of our local communities enables us to provide services over and above what the NHS can provide in the three counties of Hywel Dda and we are extremely grateful for every donation we receive,” said Nicola.

For more details about the charity and how you can help support local NHS patients and staff, go to www.hywelddahealthcharities.org.uk

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