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County schools ‘responding well’

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Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 09.40.56CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has hailed significant improvements in the county’s schools in the most recent set of school categorisation tables issued by the Welsh Government on Thursday, January 29.

The categorisation scheme has replaced the much criticised banding system, although there have been substantial complaints about last minute changes to the categorisation criteria skewing the results of some schools.

The categorisation scheme is in four tiers: Green, Yellow, Amber, and Red.

Schools in the green category are already doing well and are deemed to be in need of the least support while schools in the red category are those identified as needing the most support.

Each school’s category is determined by a range of factors including the quality of its leadership, its performance data, self-evaluation by the school and its wider capacity to improve.

Nineteen of Carmarthenshire’s schools, including Bryngwyn Secondary school and St John Lloyd Catholic Comprehensive School, have been placed in the Green category, while none appear in the Red category.

Education Executive Board Member Cllr Gareth Jones said: “Today’s National School Categorisation System outcomes have shown that more schools across Carmarthenshire are responding well to the support provided by ERW and the Local Authority.

“There has been an 8% increase in the number of schools in the green/ yellow categories and there are no schools who need intensive support (red category).

“We congratulate our learners, school leaders, staff, governors and parents on this improvement.”

NUT Cymru Secretary, David Evans, said: “We shouldn’t make any specific judgements on the basis of categorization results alone. Schools in the green category may still need support in certain areas, while there is undoubtable excellent teaching and learning taking place within aspects of those schools placed in yellow, amber and red. We must see categorization as part of the wider evaluation of schools, and more specifically as a way of identifying what support is needed, rather than a simple mechanism for judgement.”

Managing Director of the Regional Education Consortium (ERW), Betsan O’Connor, said: “The primary purpose of the system is to identify the appropriate level of support for each school according to need and to ensure that, in partnership with schools and local authorities, we are able to direct our support and resources most effectively to secure the improvements necessary in our school system.”

Education Minister, Huw Lewis, said: “This is not about crude league tables or labelling schools –it is about directing the right support to schools that need it and ensuring improvements right across our school system. Ultimately it is about raising standards and supporting our schools to self-improve.”

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Conservatives in disarray over alleged Christmas party lockdown breach

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THE CONSERVATIVE Party is investigating the attendance of senior Senedd members and staff at a Christmas party held during December’s lockdown.

Lockdown restrictions prohibit mixing with people outside your own household.

The Welsh restrictions barring such gatherings follow the basic outline of those imposed by the Conservative UK Government in December.

Those attending the drinks party included Paul Smith, the Conservative Chief of Staff at the Senedd, Darren Millar, the Party’s Chief Whip and campaign coordinator, and Preseli Pembrokeshire MS and Conservative Senedd Group Leader Paul Davies.

The Herald understands that a Labour Senedd Member who attended the Party has been suspended by the Labour Senedd Group pending its own investigation.

The Conservatives’ embarrassment at talking the talk but not walking the walk is intensified by Darren Millar’s presence at the shindig.

In May, Mr Millar led calls for Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething to be sacked for eating a bag of chips in a park with one of his own children.

If the Conservative Party follows the logic of their previously stated positions, Mr Millar’s and Mr Davies’ futures look bleak indeed.

With a Senedd election only months away, the revelations have thrown the Conservatives into disarray.

If they do nothing, the Conservatives will – at the very least – face claims they are hypocrites.

If the Conservative Party acts decisively, it faces massive internal problems.

The Conservatives responded to our request for a response to our story.

Those involved stressed they did not host a Christmas Party.

The incident happened on December 8, when the above met in the members’ tea room to discuss legislation for possible inclusion in the Welsh Conservative manifesto with a Labour backbencher.

During the evening they did drink a glass or two of wine.

They stress that at no point were there more than four people in the room at any one time and that they maintained social distancing.

A joint statement from Paul Davies, Darren Millar, and Paul Smith said: “We are profoundly sorry for our actions.

“While we did not break the rules, we recognise that what was part of a day’s work would not be seen to be following the spirit of them, especially given the tough time the country has been going through.”

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Family tribute to Carole Patricia Fowler

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Carole was a teacher for 30 years at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Llanelli. She loved children and they loved her. 

As one of her past colleagues said: “I know she made such a difference to every child she taught.” She was very popular with staff and well respected and loved by parents. She was dedicated and conscientious, always 100% for the children. She led the music there and was always popular with her guitar accompaniments for services and concerts. 

Likewise, she was a valued member of the choir at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Gendros, Swansea, where she would often accompany hymns with her guitar and gave guitar lessons to the children in the church’s Saturday Music Club. She was also a keen member of Côr Persain, Ammanford. 

She was talented, loved and in demand. A convicted and devout Catholic all her life, through good and bad.

Carole was an avid and very gifted crocheter and was always crocheting or knitting something for someone. She had been spending her time recently, during the Covid crisis, crocheting NHS teddies in scrubs and rainbows, with many given to practising nurses. Carole had recently started learning to make bobbin lace. She was also capable of some very decent sewing, too. 

She was also learning Welsh, doing ‘pilates’ and was considering taking up yoga lessons as well.

She was a busy lady! As one of her work colleagues said of her: “She was wise, strong, beautiful, generous, devout and feisty. And I loved her for all those qualities.”

Above all, she was an immeasurably loved Mam, daughter, sister and a doting Mamgu and so much loved by her fiancé. Having been together for 14 years, they would have been married last July 20th had covid allowed! 

Her premature passing at 61 is tragic and she is already sorely, painfully missed. She leaves behind a huge chasm in so many hearts that cannot be filled.

“Eternal rest grant unto her, o Lord, may perpetual light shine about her, may she rest in peace.”

If anyone witnessed the collision or may have been travelling on the M4 at the relevant time, please contact the Serious Collision Unit quoting police reference DPP-20210113-317

Police can be contacted either online at: bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Tip off leads to pensioner’s drug stash

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A BRIEFCASE full of drugs has been recovered during a raid in Swansea suburb.
Police acting on information provided by a member of the public executed a warrant in Gorseinon and recovered a large quantity of cannabis.
A man was arrested on suspicion of possession of the class B drug, with intent to supply.
A South Wales Police spokesman said: “At around 5.40pm on Wednesday, January 6, following an intelligence led operation, a 68 year-old man from Gorseinon was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply cannabis.
“He was taken to Swansea central police station for questioning. He has been released under investigation”.

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