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Anti-strike proposals an attack on devolution says NAHT Cymru



THE GOVERNMENT’S proposed minimum service levels for schools are ‘draconian, unnecessary, and an attack on devolution’, school leaders’ union NAHT Cymru says.

In its response to the government consultation, which closes today, NAHT Cymru says the legislation cuts across devolved powers by the Welsh Government and would effectively remove the right to strike from most school staff – and especially head teachers given that most schools only have one such role.

The new laws would make it legal to sack striking education workers who have been issued with ‘work notices’ and will allow hefty fines to be imposed on unions.

NAHT Cymru says the proposals fail to recognise legislation in Wales, such as the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015; the Trade Union (Wales) Act 2017 and Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Act 2023 – all of which look to strengthen workers and employers’ rights and promote working together to resolve disputes where possible.

Far from ensuring a ‘minimum’ service, the union says requiring all vulnerable, critical worker and exam groups to be in school would mean a majority of pupils attending and all schools being required to open on strike days.

NAHT Cymru National Secretary Laura Doel has condemned the legislation, saying: “The proposals by the UK government aim to undermine the principles of social partnership and are a direct attack on the devolution settlement.

“The Department for Education (DfE) has no idea of the systems in place that manage and maintain Welsh schools and the UK Government has no right to involve itself in matters that do not concern it.

“School leaders across Wales face significant challenges, particularly when it comes to pay, workload and funding and we are currently working with the Welsh Government to address those issues.

“Having said that, we will not hesitate to take further industrial action if it is the will of our members and we will do everything in our power to protect those rights.”

NAHT Cymru says there was no clear evidence of detriment to pupils during last year’s industrial action by education unions, which included a strike by teachers – but that cuts to education and chronic underfunding have far-reaching implications for the delivery of education.

Referring to last year’s action in Wales, during which NAHT Cymru took action short of strike, the response continues: ‘Teachers, school leaders and support staff have taken part in industrial action to defend their pay and working conditions, to prevent a worsening of the staffing shortage and to restore the quality of our education services. The introduction of minimum levels of service will not resolve these issues, but they will impact workers ability to do something about them.’

In its response, NAHT Cymru also highlights the principle that union members need the freedom to withdraw their labour if their workplace is for any reason considered unsafe.

It points out that the proposals do not allow workplace notices requiring staff to work to be appealed or for any independent oversight of disputes that arise. There is no provision for meaningful consultation with unions and no obligation to consult individuals identified in a work notice as being required to work during a strike and is completely lacking in reference to the devolved governments at all.

NAHT Cymru has welcomed education minister Jeremey Miles’ response to the legislation, after he wrote to the DfE stating the Welsh Government will continue to work with employers and unions under social partnership to resolve disputes.

Paul Whiteman, NAHT’s general secretary, said: “The government’s proposals are a hostile attack on the basic democratic right of workers to withdraw their labour.

“Strike action will always be a last resort for dedicated education professionals. Sadly, however, it is sometimes the only way to engage tin-eared governments and employers in serious talks about issues which may not only affect their working conditions, safety and livelihoods – but also their ability to offer the education all children deserve.

“These proposals will not help to prevent industrial disputes but will make it even harder to resolve them and for dedicated school staff to act when they fear education is being devalued. If that happens, ultimately it is children who will suffer.”

NAHT Cymru is calling for the UK government to retract the proposals and enter meaningful negotiations with education unions after it abandoned talks last year.

It urges ministers to ‘learn from other nations and create a culture of social dialogue and balanced cooperation through the introduction of sector-wide collective bargaining, together with the clear legal recognition of a positive right to strike.’

The union says the proposals are ‘highly likely to fall foul of equality law’, arguing that school leaders who are more likely to be required to work are often older. It points out that a majority of the workforce are female, and that the approach taken was ‘effectively discriminating against’ staff at schools with a higher proportion of pupils with additional learning needs (ALN), vulnerable and critical worker children.

NAHT Cymru adds the legislation would ‘make the UK an outlier among comparable nations’, undermining a host of international human rights and labour law commitments. These include the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, European Social Charter and commitments through the International Labour Organisation.

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Phoebe-Lily shines in Royal Opera House design challenge



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

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Pembrokeshire schools achieve milestone for careers award



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. 


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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Exciting visit to France for Pembrokeshire school pupils



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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