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Education

Ministerial visit for two Haverfordwest schools

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THE MINISTER for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles MS enjoyed visits to two Haverfordwest schools on Friday, February 2nd.

Mr Miles visited Haverfordwest High VC School and Portfield School, taking in tours of both school sites and meeting pupils, staff and local education leaders.

Haverfordwest High VC School was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal in October 2022.

The school was jointly funded by Pembrokeshire County Council and Welsh Government under its Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme. The school caters for 1500 pupils aged 11-16 and 250 Sixth Form students.

At Haverfordwest High, Mr Miles was welcomed by Headteacher Jane Harries, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Director of Education Steven Richards-Downes and Preseli Pembrokeshire MS Paul Davies and Chair of Governors Mrs Christine Williams.

Mr Miles was then given a tour of the impressive facilities by Head Girl Cerys Foss and Head Boy Troy Goodridge, including a visit to a School Council Meeting.

Mr Miles later visited Portfield School, which provides education for pupils with statements of special educational needs aged 11-19.

Mr Miles met the school’s Senior Leadership Team plus Head Girl Celyn Sollis and Head Boy Lewis Edwards, and enjoyed a brief tour of the school. This included visiting the location of the proposed new build for the primary phase school and Sixth Form block.

Mr Miles also took the opportunity to speak with pupils and staff involved in the Taith project, Wales’ international learning exchange. Portfield pupils and staff enjoyed a visit to Bruges in Belgium last year and are already planning the next trip to Sweden.

Following the visits, Mr Miles said: “It was fantastic to see the impressive new Haverfordwest High School, and it was a real pleasure to hear and see first-hand how the school is giving learners an innovative platform for learning and a supportive environment to help them reach their potential.
“In Portfield School, I heard from pupils and staff about their recent Taith trips to Belgium and Sweden, and how the experience has helped build confidence, broaden horizons, and grow aspirations. It really is heartening to see the impact Taith is having, enabling us to break down barriers to international exchange and opening up opportunities for all.”
Mrs Harries, Headteacher of Haverfordwest High VC School and Executive Headteacher of Portfield School, said: “We shared with Mr Miles the many ways in which the school supports our pupils in what continues to be an increasingly challenging society.

“He was able to talk to staff and pupils who explained how our school was now providing much more than academic education which was vital for them, how the school has adjusted to the requirements of the ALN Bill and how their Asymmetric Week arrangements facilitated professional development and cluster collaboration.”

Pictured, right to left: Steven Richards-Downes, Director of Education, Cerys Foss, Head Girl, Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Christine Williams, Chair of Governors, Jane Harries, Headteacher, Paul Davies MS, Troy Goodridge, Head Boy
Pictured left to right: Steven Richards-Downes Director of Education, Cerys Foss Head Girl, Christine Williams Chair of Governors, Jeremy Miles Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jane Harries Headteacher, Mr Paul Davies MS, Troy Goodridge Head Boy.

PORTFIELD SCHOOL

Jeremy Miles meets with pupils

Education

Exam success celebrated with Learning Pembrokeshire

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ADULT learners celebrated their exam success with Learning Pembrokeshire at its annual awards ceremony recently.

The event, organised by members of the Learning Pembrokeshire Adult Community Learning team was kindly hosted by Pembrokeshire College, co-members of the adult learning partnership.

Learners who attended had gained accreditation in Digital Skills, Maths, English and English as a Speaker of Other Language. Hardworking tutors from the Essential Skills, ESOL and Springboard teams were very happy to take the opportunity to present certificates to their hardworking learners and celebrate their progress on their lifelong learning journey.

As well as staff and learners, the event was attended by Stephen Richards-Downes, Director of Education and Erica Williams from the Strategic Migration Partnership at the Welsh Local Government Association. Master of Ceremonies for the morning was Tomos Hopkins from Welsh for Adults and their Welsh choir was kind enough to add their voice to the event.

The range of qualifications attained included Agored Cymru Units and Awards, Essential Skills Wales Level 1 and level 2, BCS ICDL, GCSE and Life in the UK.

Special mention was given to the achievements of young people from Futureworks’ programmes around the county.

A warm welcome extended to our newest cohort of ESOL learners from Afghanistan, who are just beginning their learning journey with Learning Pembrokeshire.

A range of work created by learners in other non-accredited classes such as Sewing, Stained Glass, and Art was also displayed.

If you are interested in finding out more about free Essential Skills and ESOL classes, please call the Freephone 0808 100 3302.

To find out more about the wide range other classes including GCSE, Health and Well-being classes, Languages and General Interest contact your local Community Learning Centre, visit the Learning Pembrokeshire page on the Council’s website or Facebook. Or you can call Central Services on 01437 770130.

Captions: Learners are presented with their awards by Learning Pembrokeshire

The annual awards ceremony was held for adult learners at Pembrokeshire College

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Education

Primary schools enjoy a taste of opera at three special performances

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PEMBROKESHIRE MUSIC SERVICE brought the ABC of Opera to Haverfordwest for school children to enjoy a special live performance recently.

ABC of Opera, founded by renowned opera singer Mark Llewelyn Evans, performed The Crazy Classicals and the Curse at three shows on 9th and 10th July.

Almost 1,000 primary school pupils delighted in the fusion of pantomime and opera where the evil Queen of the Night, escaping from Mozart’s Opera the Magic Flute, tries to banish music for ever. Featuring a host of classical composers and Trevor the Trunk, they work together with the children to stop her.

The cast comprised of seven professional opera singers, with the orchestra being made up of staff from Pembrokeshire Music Service, senior pupils from County music ensembles and invited guests.

Head of Pembrokeshire Music Service Philippa Roberts: “Pembrokeshire Music Service is delighted to partner with ABC Opera to bring an exceptional live music experience to our students, giving pupils a fantastic introduction to Opera in a fun and engaging environment.

“This initiative, made possible thanks to the generous support of the National Music Service Wales, saw our staff and pupils performing side by side in the orchestra along with professional vocalists.”

ABC of Opera aims to deliver invaluable life lessons to children and young people through a lively exploration of the lives and music of the great composers, building character, celebrating difference and encouraging creativity. “Any Body Can with ABC.”

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Education

Ysgol Harri Tudur bans mobile phones starting September 2024

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STARTING September 2024, pupils at Ysgol Harri Tudur in Pembroke will no longer be allowed to bring mobile phones to school. This decision follows a consultation with parents, guardians, and carers that concluded on July 1.

The consultation process began on June 26, when the school sent out a letter to parents and carers, inviting their opinions on the matter. The letter highlighted growing concerns about the negative impact of mobile phones on students’ education, safeguarding, mental health, and well-being. It noted, “There is increasing evidence of the negative impact that mobile phones have at school on learners’ education, safeguarding, mental health, and well-being. Covid has certainly made the situation worse, with the reduction in face-to-face relationships.”

Previously, the school operated an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ policy, requiring students to turn off their phones and leave them in their bags. However, enforcing this policy proved to be challenging. The letter explained, “Alerts from social media platforms, emails, texts, and calls during the school day create an environment which is very difficult for learners to resist checking and responding to. Mobile phones allow learners to play music, games, and take photographs and video clips. The latter places learners at risk of cyber bullying.”

The issue sparked a lively debate on a local Facebook group. Some contributors raised concerns about students with medical conditions who need their phones for glucose monitoring, medicine reminders, or well-being journals. One user pointed out, “It’s difficult for people with a medical condition, who need to have their phone with them.”

On the other hand, many welcomed the ban, hoping it would reduce dependency on devices, decrease cyber-bullying, lessen peer pressure to own the latest models, and encourage students to engage more with each other. One parent commented, “Plenty of other schools already implement this policy – and it works.”

Another parent emphasised the importance of allowing pupils who are being bullied in other ways to contact home.

Ysgol Bro Gwaun in Fishguard has already implemented similar policies with reported success. Haverfordwest High is also considering a mobile-free approach.

Additionally, Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi in St David’s, Pembrokeshire, has seen significant improvements since implementing a similar policy. Pupils now hand in their phones at the start of the school day, which has led to better attendance, behaviour, and learning. The school’s police liaison officer reported a 75% reduction in phone-related issues, and both exclusions and bullying incidents have decreased dramatically.

For emergencies, the Pembroke school advises parents to contact Reception or email [email protected]. If learners need to contact home urgently, they are encouraged to speak to their Pastoral Leader or any senior member of staff.

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