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Education

Pembrokeshire parents reassured amid concerns about school concrete

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AS more than 100 schools in England grapple with the closure of classrooms or the introduction of safety measures due to concerns over the structural integrity of their buildings, Pembrokeshire council has extended reassurances to parents.

This crisis stems from the discovery of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in several key facilities, prompting concerns over potential structural hazards. Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest made headlines recently when it declared a “major incident” after RAAC was discovered on its premises. A “limited part” of Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth was also found to have RAAC.

In a related development, the UK Government took action last week, instructing many schools and colleges near the border to either fully or partially close their buildings due to the presence of concrete that could pose sudden collapse risks. RAAC, a building material in use from the 1950s to the mid-1990s, came under scrutiny following the collapse of a concrete beam over the summer, prompting this drastic response.

The issue of infrastructure falls under devolved powers, and the Welsh Government has announced its intention to assess the extent of the problem within the country.

Pembrokeshire County Council has offered a glimmer of hope for parents, confirming that all schools in the region will open as scheduled after the summer holidays. They stated that “no specific issues” have been identified in the authority’s buildings.

A council spokesperson addressed the situation, saying, “Parents and guardians will be aware of media reports in England regarding concerns about Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete in schools. Pembrokeshire County Council can confirm that at this time there are no specific issues highlighted across the council’s buildings. All schools will re-open as planned after the summer holidays, and staff are looking forward to welcoming pupils back. The authority will continue working closely with the Welsh Government on this matter.”

In contrast to England’s response, the Welsh Government has opted for a different approach since the 1960s, focusing on a comprehensive school and further education building program aimed at mitigating the risks associated with aging structures.

A Welsh Government spokesperson elaborated, “Earlier this year, we commissioned a condition survey of all state-funded schools and colleges, which will identify any structures suspected of containing Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete.

Local authorities and further education institutions have not reported to us any instances of RAAC being present within schools or colleges. We will continue to work closely with the WLGA (Welsh Local Government Association) and local authorities on this issue and will provide an update once the survey has been completed.”

Education

Phoebe-Lily shines in Royal Opera House design challenge

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE says it is proud to announce that Phoebe-Lily, a Graphics & Illustration student, has been awarded a ‘Commended’ judgment for her outstanding set design entry to the Royal Opera House Design Challenge. Phoebe’s entry was based on the production of ‘Barber of Seville’ and showcased remarkable creativity and skill.

Phoebe-Lily Williams was among ten Further Education students commended by the judges for their exceptional contributions.

The Royal Opera House Design Challenge provides a platform for young talents across the UK to demonstrate their creative abilities in set design. Phoebe’s commendation reflects her commitment to excellence and innovation in her field.

Upon receiving the commendation, Phoebe expressed her gratitude for the support she received from her tutors at Pembrokeshire College. She remarked, “I was more illustrative, and my tutors were very supportive. I want to go on to study set design and production, so Lou showed me the design challenge and said it would be okay to do that instead of a packaging brief.”

Phoebe chose Pembrokeshire College for its tailored modules that aligned with her career aspirations. She found the course to be conducive to developing the skills necessary for her desired path. “I enjoyed the process as it felt very liberating and positive, knowing that my tutors were encouraging and supportive of my career and study goals,” she added.

The Royal Opera House has invited the twenty winning, highly commended, and commended students, including Phoebe, to attend an awards ceremony on June 4, 2024. This event will provide them with an opportunity to interact with professionals in the field and gain insights into the day-to-day workings of the Royal Opera House.

Additionally, the public will have the chance to view the winning, highly commended, and commended works at an exhibition in the Linbury Foyer at the Royal Opera House from May 27 to June 10, 2024.

Amy McGann, Head of National Schools Programmes at the Royal Opera House, commended the participants for their creativity and expressed excitement about providing professional feedback to students from various educational settings. She stated, “The level of creativity from the young people across the country in this year’s Design Challenge has been high. As well as celebrating the Winners, Highly Commended, and Commended, we are looking forward to delivering professional feedback to students from an ever-widening set of participating educational settings.”

Phoebe-Lily Williams and her fellow commandeers represent the future of set design and production, and their achievements are a testament to their talent and hard work.

To find out more about the creative courses available at the College please visit www.pembrokeshire.ac.uk

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Education

Pembrokeshire schools achieve milestone for careers award

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32 schools in Wales have successfully completed the first stage of the new Careers Wales Quality Award, including Pembrokeshire Learning Centre.

The award supports schools and settings with learners aged 3-16 with the development of purposeful and relevant careers and work-related experiences (CWRE) across the curriculum.

The schools are taking part in the pilot of the new award and are working closely with dedicated curriculum coordinators from Careers Wales to develop a CWRE model that works best for the individual school and its pupils.

This stage forms the first of three stages, each with a different focus. Titled leadership, it forms the basis for the required ongoing development of pupils’ careers learning. 

WALES NEWS SERVICE

Jeremy Miles, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Energy & Welsh Language, said: “Well done to all the schools taking part for their commitment to their pupil’s future career and work-related opportunities.

“It’s so important for children and young people to learn about the different pathways available to them to ease the transition from education to successful employment, and each school’s work-related experiences action plan will support this continuous development.

“We want to do everything we can to help our children and young people achieve their full potential. By developing work related experiences across the curriculum our schools can support their learners to go on to play their full part in our economy and society.”

As part of the leadership stage, the schools have worked closely with Careers Wales to create an action plan, a vision and strategy for CWRE, and have planned for the regular monitoring and review of this activity.

This stage has also seen the school identify the roles needed to facilitate effective development of CWRE and commit to allocate sufficient resources.

Jo Thomas, Teacher in Charge at Pembrokeshire Learning Centre, said: “The award has helped us enormously and has enabled us to develop best practice within the Pembrokeshire Learning Centre. We now have a robust policy in place, with clear aims as to the breadth of Careers Education.

“By doing the Quality Award, we are beginning to embed CWRE into our curriculum in a way that it incorporates all pupils.”

Nikki Lawrence, chief executive at Careers Wales, said: “A huge congratulations to all the schools who have completed the leadership stage of the Careers Wales Quality Award.

“Each school’s commitment to the award illustrates their ongoing dedication to provide their pupils with high quality careers and work-related experiences.

“Quality careers support equips young people with the vital skills, knowledge and resources to succeed, as well as benefitting the local community and economy in Wales with a capable, confident and motivated future workforce.

“We look forward to progressing through the award process alongside the participating schools. Together, we will achieve our shared objective to empower pupils with the ability to make informed decisions about their futures and take steps towards success.”

Following a successful pilot, the award has been designed to be launched nationally across Wales.

For more information on the award, visit the Careers Wales Quality Award pilot webpage.

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Education

Exciting visit to France for Pembrokeshire school pupils

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LAST week, 60 children and 16 teaching staff visited the Bassin d’Arcachon in France as part of a Taith funded project. 

The children, representing Pennar Community School, Neyland Community School, Prendergast Community School, Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi and Haverfordwest High School, engaged in a week of activities with French school children. 

They visited lessons, took part in dancing, art, maths and playground games, all with the aim of developing modern foreign language skills, exploring cultural similarities and differences as well as having an overarching theme of sustainability in schools and caring for the environment. 

The children explored the Dune de Pilat, the largest natural sand dune in Europe, and Biscarosse beach where they undertook beach and environmental studies.

The town of Neyland has had a twinning connection with the town of Sanguinet for more than ten years and this trip allowed these friendships to develop further and pave the way for a return visit by up to 20 French children next year.

The group was hosted by the twinning committee and the mayor at a reception in the town hall where the children had the opportunity to sample local dishes.

The children and staff were excellent ambassadors for their schools and for Pembrokeshire, laying the foundations for future collaborations.

Taith is Wales’ international learning exchange programme, with taith being Welsh for journey.

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