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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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Pembroke and District Male Voice Choir’s fantastic Sunday evening concert in Templeton

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SPECIAL guests were among the audience when Pembroke and District Male Voice Choir returned to Templeton Parish Church for a Sunday evening concert – the Bishop of St Davids, the Rt Rev Dr Joanna Penberthy, and her Chaplain, the Rev Shirley Murphy.

Bishop Penberthy and the Rev Shirley were welcomed along with the choir and audience by the Rector, the Rev Martin Cox, who reminded that Rev Shirley had been Curate at Templeton before taking up her role in the Bishop’s office.

He also spoke of his long connections with the male voice, over more than 30 years, during which the choir had staged at his churches at Monkton, Gorseinon and now Templeton.

Musical Director Juliet Rossiter chose a varied programme in Welsh and English, with Carole Rees as Accompanist and Matthew John as MC.

Regular soloist Alyson Griffiths, on flute, played ‘Pie Jesu’ and ‘Somewhere’ – from the musical West Side Story – and First Tenor Peter Halifax accompanied himself on guitar with two items. Singer/songwriter Peter sang a folk song in the Ukrainian language, ‘Bili Kashtani’, and an original piece entitled ‘’Greater is He that is within you’, all to warm acclaim.

Juliet and Carole joined forces for a second concert duet at the keyboard to play two pieces by Johan Strauss – ‘Blue Danube’ and ‘Radetzky March’.

Before the encore – the traditional South African melody ‘Siyahamba’ – Bishop Joanna gave the Blessing and added how much she had enjoyed a live concert again.

Excellent refreshments were provided by the church ladies and they were thanked by Choir Chairman John Hillier.

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Pembrokeshire prose and poems at Llangwm’s 5th Literary Festival

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‘LLANGWM’S fifth literary festival is a wonderful showcase for Pembrokeshire talent.’ says
Michael Pugh, Director of the Llangwm Literary Festival.

‘We some very powerful images from the renowned photographer David Wilson who lives in
the village.’ continues Pugh. ‘In his book ‘The Village’, David’s images capture the soul of
Llangwm’s tight knit former fishing community. These images are all the more important
because many of them were taken during lock-down. It is amazing to look back and see how
far we’re advanced from there and how the human spirit can triumph over adversity.
Local artist and photographer, Ian Jacob, who was born in Llangwm and lives there now is
excited to be unveiling his first book at the festival. ‘Body Rock Sand’ is the fruition of an
idea that developed in Jacob’s mind when, as a young art student, he was captivated by the
images of Lucien Clergue’s, ‘Née de la Vague’ (Born of the Waves). Clergue’s images are
the inspiration for Ian’s very own images on the interplay of skin, sea and sand in
Pembrokeshire’s beaches.

St David’s based master-forager Julia Horton-Mansfield returns to the festival for the fifth
time to invite guests to ‘Come Forage with Me’ and explore the richness of the Cleddau
shoreline and to find out more about the health-giving properties of the delicious foods
literally growing all around us. On a darker note, and for those who enjoy a spine-tingler,

Llangwm-based writer, Pippa ‘the Pen’ Davies, joins Pembrokeshire’s Diana Powell, and
Maggie Himsworth for the unveiling of an intriguing Crime Cymru anthology of short stories
by Welsh Women and to explore what it is that attracts us to read about crime!

For those who have their own story to tell, Narberth’s Emma Baines will be running ‘Write
by the River’; a creative workshop on the Cleddau for those who wish to write about the
mighty river and what it means to them.

Poets, and writers, and anyone who just wants to share a poem or song are warmly invited to
Llangwm rugby club’s ‘Poems and Pints’. This year’s session, inspired by the themes of
Joyce’s Ulysses, and Poems of War in connection with Ukraine, promises to be very high-
octane indeed. No festival in Wales would be complete without a song, and Llangwm is no
exception with its bold Village Voices to entertain with their latest repertoire.
Llangwm’s Ellie Brick, in support of the idea that you need a fit body to get the best out of
your mind, will be blowing the cobweb’s away with a Sunday morning stretch and dance.

And for those who just want to sit back, leave it to Deb Winter, local storyteller
extraordinaire. Her tales will take you to new horizons and undiscovered worlds.

For more information on the festival, please contact llangwmlitfest@gmail.com, or visit our
website: www.llangwmlitfest.co.uk

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Rhian scoops prestigious care award

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A PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL employee has been awarded at this year’s prestigious Employers for Carers Awards held by Carers Wales, which recognise and celebrate those who have supported unpaid working carers in Wales during the last year.

Rhian Bennett, Commissioning Manager, Social Care and Housing, scooped the Line Manager award at the event which was held last month.

The awards, which were part of Carers Week, are designed to recognise those in an organisation who have gone the extra mile in the last 12 months in supporting working carers – such as raising awareness, supporting peers and being a workplace champion, network facilitator or chair.

Rhian’s accolade recognises her efforts as a line manager who supported working carer’s and had a positive impact on helping them to balance care and work within the organisation.

She was nominated by a member of the team she manages, who is an unpaid carer – and this was in relation to her gratitude for the support that she receives and the wider team.

Rhian said: “It was a lovely surprise to win but it was an honour to be nominated and receive the award.

“It’s crucial to support and enable staff to provide care outside of their day job. This award is for everyone who is an unpaid carer and goes the extra mile to ensure their loved ones are supported.”

Carers Week was established by Carers UK more than 25 years ago and is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring and highlight the challenges unpaid carers face. This year’s theme was – ‘make caring visible, valued and supported’.

Jonathan Griffiths, Director of Social Services and Leisure, Social Care & Housing, added: “My congratulations to Rhian for this award, the recognition of her impact on supporting carers shows her commitment and drive to make a difference for people.

“To ensure employers protect carers time and support them, is essential and it’s pleasing to see Rhian’s approach has been recognised in this positive way.”

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