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Llangennech School plan sent to Executive

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Dual Stream a superficial choice: Sioned Elin, CIG

A MEETING of the Education Scrutiny Committee on Monday (May 23) has recommended that a proposal for the change in language status of Llangennech School should proceed for consideration by the County Council’s Executive Board.

Llangennech’s existing schools are designated as ‘dual stream’.

In dual stream schools, a designation determined by the Welsh Government, two types of provision exist sideby- side. Parents/pupils opt either for the mainly Welsh-medium or mainly English-medium provision.

Under the Council’s proposals, Llangennech’s existing schools would amalgamate into a single 3-11 Welsh- Medium School.

The former is in accordance with the creation of single 3-11 schools in localities where two schools exist and where a single head teacher is in charge of both schools. In Welsh-Medium education (WME), Welsh is the main teaching medium at Key Stage 2, with at least 70% of the teaching through the medium of Welsh.

English is introduced formally as a subject at Key Stage 2 and is taught through the medium of English, and English may occasionally be used for some aspects of some subjects.

Some people in Llangennech are vehemently opposed to the proposals.

‘NO CONSIDERATION’

Following the meeting, spokesperson for the parents Michaela Beddows told the Herald: “They didn’t really answer our questions until Councillor Jeff Edmunds said he wasn’t happy the vote went ahead until the questions were answered. Two other councillors said they were not happy either.

“The three councillors abstained from voting. Director of Education Rob Sully briefly answered the questions. He said that special needs children won’t be affected by the change. They put the vote forward and it was carried. It is going to the Executive Board, possibly in June.”

However, an alternative view was put by another attendee at the same meeting.

“The rules (on asking questions) are pretty inflexible, as you know, but the objectors received better treatment than people asking questions of full council. Somehow, I doubt that they will see it that way.

“Rob Sully was on top of his brief, and the people who asked questions were told that they would receive full written responses to their questions, some of which contained a lot of detail.

Asked about what the group intended to do now that the proposal had moved forward Michaela Beddows said: “We will now have the opportunity to put in more proformas. Whatever argument we have put forward they are dismissing. They are not taking individual children into account.

“What Rob Sully said was that no child is going to be turned away from the school and that every child can go to the school. There is no consideration given to any English speaking child whatsoever.”

SURPLUS PLACES CLAIMED

The group, who say they are not opposed to children learning Welsh claim that surplus capacity exists at other Welsh Medium Schools and that such a surplus means that the Council’s proposals are not aligned with the Welsh Government’s School re-organisation code.

Michaela alleged: “They have built two brand new Welsh primary schools with surplus places. One in Furnace and one in Brynsierfel.

She continued: “121 children in Llangennech School are not living in the village. 96 have to go out of the village to go to school. 15 of those are attending other welsh medium schools. 81 are attending alternative English schools. They say there is a lack of people wanting English education yet 81 children have to go out of the village to get their education.”

Michaela disputes a claim by the County Council that no child seeking an English medium education has been turned away from the existing school: “We have proof that they have. One mum went to tribunal. She won her case. The school were lying about the capacity there.”

Asked whether the Llangennech County and Community Councillors were listening to families she said that they were not and that issue was councillors’ firm personal belief in the primacy of the Welsh language.

The Herald asked Michaela if the board of governors had listened to their views. She said, “The Board of Governors are not listening. We put a letter of complaint in and asked for the resignation of the chair of the board of governors Tim Davies. He believes that English and Welsh cannot be taught alongside one another.”

CYMDEITHAS RESPOND

In a letter to the Chair of the Committee, Sioned Elin, Chair of Cymdeithas in the area said:

“Retaining separate Welsh and English streams gives parents superficially an idea of choice. However, in reality, registering pupils in the English stream will deprive them of choices later on in life.

“It is recognised by everyone in the field – including the First Minister – that the idea of “second language Welsh” has been a failure and, consequently, only the pupils in the Welsh stream develop skills to work in both languages, and have real choices.

“Pupils in the English-medium stream are deprived educationally. There is a gradual process to rectify the situation through the county so that schools are on a continuum towards Welsh-medium education which ensures proficiency in both languages.”

Speaking after the meeting, Sioned Elin said: “It is the Council’s intention for more schools to offer more Welsh medium education, so Llangennech School could lead the way.

“It was a scrutiny committee that met today, their decision will go before the Executive Committee who will have the final say, but we are hopeful that they will come to the same conclusion; and that the followup process gets under-way as soon as possible.”

‘BONKERS PROCESS’

Others’ views were less stridently expressed: “A couple of the questioners were a bit aggressive in tone, and one of them tried to challenge Councillor Gwyn Hopkins’ declaration of interest. Cllr Hopkins had been granted permission to speak and vote, and one parent said he thought this was against the rules. There was clearly no love lost and Gwyn Hopkins looked pretty upset.

“After that initial excitement, things quietened down, Cllr Eirwyn Williams thanked them repeatedly for taking time to come, and carefully avoided confrontation while keeping firm control.”

However, criticism was levelled at the way the statutory code – set by the Welsh Government – operates: “What is unfair to everyone concerned – children, parents, staff and governors – is the bonkers process which has to be followed. If someone wanted to create a process which prolongs agony and ensures that permanent scars are left, this would be it.”

LABOUR CRITICISED

Further criticism was levelled at Labour’s apparently cynical approach to the issue: “Labour’s antics were also deplorable. Two of their three members did not show up, apparently having dropped out at the last minute. So they used their reserves, including Jeff Edmunds.

“Despite having voted unanimously for the policy when they were running the council, they were squeaking that they had reservations about applying it in the case of individual schools. So they abstained, presumably hoping to make political capital out of the issue. There’s leadership for you.”

That last point touches upon one salient factor that some Labour councillors are very keen to play down. The plan for Welsh Medium Education in Carmarthenshire – and the Welsh Language Education Policy nationally – are both creations of the Labour Party.

The position of some of the more opportunistic Labour representatives locally seems to be to stir up opposition to policies pursued by the current administration, which the former Labour administration put in place.

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    April 8, 2017 at 7:42 am

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Health board provides assurance to local residents following Llanelli lockdown restrictions

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Following the introduction of temporary lockdown measures in the Llanelli area the health board is moving to reassure local communities that they can still access hospital and community healthcare services, including urgent care.

The health board is continuing to focus on providing these essential services and patients should access Prince Philip Hospital if they have an urgent care need or a scheduled clinic appointment.

Planned operations continue to be prioritised based on clinical urgency (including patients with cancer and other urgent care needs) and people should attend these if they have a confirmed admission date.

These measures apply to people with appointments at Prince Philip Hospital (regardless of where you live), and for people living in the Llanelli restricted zone. Arrangements are also continuing with access to primary care services – please phone your doctor’s surgery, dentist or optometrist to find out more and follow instructions at your community pharmacist.

All GP practices and a number of community pharmacies are continuing to offer the flu jab by appointment – again please check arrangements with these providers locally and make sure you keep your appointment if you’ve been offered one.  If you do not have an appointment arranged and you are in one of the “at risk” categories, please contact your GP Practice to check on the arrangements for this year.

Visiting continues to be restricted at all Hywel Dda University Health Board hospitals and these must be pre-planned and agreed with the sister/charge nurse. 

The exceptions to this arrangement are:
One parent/guardian at a time to visit their child
For birthing mothers – only one birthing partner
Patients considered to be at the end of life or receiving palliative care. 

We have also introduced local exemptions to this where you can visit if you are supporting someone with a mental health issue such as dementia, a learning disability or autism, where not being present would cause the patient to become distressed. 

In all cases we are urging patients to continue to follow infection prevention and control guidance, as well as use of face coverings and maintaining social distance.  Further information and updates about local lockdowns can be found on the Welsh Government’s website here.

Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience at Hywel Dda, said: “It’s really important that people living in areas affected by the new lockdowns know that they can still access services in the same way as they have been able to for the last few months.

“At the same time, it’s also important that people choose the right healthcare service for their need so that our hospitals can manage the extra demand that we always face at this time of the year.

“We will continue to prioritise urgent and emergency care, including planned operations based on clinical urgency, and I’d also like to remind people that arrangements are in place at a local level for community services such as GPs, pharmacies, optometrists and dentists.

“If you do need to attend a healthcare setting please remember to follow guidance on hand hygiene, face coverings and social distancing and please contact the senior sister or charge nurse if you want to find out about visiting relatives in hospital.

“Remember, COVID-19 is a serious disease which is sadly having real and tragic consequences for many people and families. We will endeavour to do all that we can to keep our communities safe and we’d like to thank the public for their patience and understanding as we continue to work through these new arrangements.”

Remember – if you or any member of your household develop symptoms of COVID-19 it is important that you self-isolate and do NOT attend any appointments or visit our sites.

If you have symptoms (raised temperature, new persistent cough OR loss or change of smell or taste) please book a test as soon as possible. You can do this via the UK Portal here

Any Llanelli residents having problems booking a test can contact us on 0300 333 2222 or via covidenquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk
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Police appeal for witnesses after 20-year-old pedestrian tragically killed on A40

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for witnesses to a fatal road traffic collision on the A40 west of Carmarthen on Saturday (Sept 26) in which a 20-year-old man, a pedestrian, lost his life.

The police have asked The Pembrokeshire Herald to publicise this appeal.

A spokesman for the police told this newspaper: “At around 9.40pm, a white VW Transporter was in collision with a pedestrian on the A40 westbound, near the junction of Llangynog, Carmarthen.

“The pedestrian, a 20-year-old male, died as a result of his injuries.

“It appears the pedestrian had left his vehicle, a black Seat, following a single-vehicle collision further along the westbound carriageway shortly before.

The police have asked that if anyone has any information on either or both collisions, or may have been travelling along the A40 at the relevant time, please contact the serious collision investigation unit, quoting reference DPP-20200926-339.

This can be done by email: contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, by phone on 101 or by text: If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Llanelli becomes a Covid-19 ‘health protection zone’

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RESIDENTS in a large part of Llanelli are being put under new local restrictions in a ‘health protection zone’ following a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in the area.

The town is seeing a concentrated spread of cases compared with other parts of Carmarthenshire – in the last seven days, 85 positive cases have been identified in Llanelli (151.6 per 100,000 of the population) compared to 24 cases in the rest of Carmarthenshire (18.1 per 100,000 of the population).*

Public Health Wales officials are expecting numbers to continue rising over the coming week.

Carmarthenshire County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board have worked with the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to agree the temporary restrictions at sub-county level to try and halt the spread of the virus.

As of 6pm on Saturday September 26, 2020, residents living in defined parts of Llanelli will not be able to visit anyone else’s home, or accept visitors into their home, unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ such as providing care for a vulnerable person.

They should not arrange to meet indoors with anyone who they don’t live with, and travel in and out of the ‘health protection zone’ will also be limited – people should not leave the area or travel into the area unless it is essential. Travelling in and out of the zone for a holiday is not considered a reasonable excuse.

People are being asked to wear face coverings anywhere where they cannot maintain a two-metre distance from other people, including collecting children from school, in addition to the rules which already require them to wear a face covering in indoor spaces like shops and on public transport.

All indoor and outdoor visits to residential care homes have also been suspended.

Students may still travel into and out of the ‘health protection zone’ to go to school or college.

People living in the defined area of Llanelli must work from home, and employers must take all reasonable steps to support staff to do so.

Indoor public spaces such as leisure centres should only be used by people living in the defined area.

Shops will remain open, but people living outside the defined area of Llanelli should avoid travelling to visit them and shop in their own locality wherever possible.

The specific wards covered in the defined area of Llanelli are:

  • Bigyn
  • Bynea
  • Dafen
  • Elli
  • Felinfoel
  • Glanymor
  • Hendy
  • Hengoed
  • Llangennech
  • Lliedi
  • Llwynhendy
  • Tyisha
  • Swiss Valley

Although the pattern of increased positive cases is overwhelmingly concentrated in the Llanelli area where the restrictions have been strengthened, the whole of Carmarthenshire has now been put on alert, with a warning that the tighter restrictions may be extended if cases continue to spread.

Everyone – including those in the defined areas of Llanelli – is being urged to follow the national guidance around social distancing, good hygiene, self-isolation, testing and face coverings.

Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “It is worrying to see how sharply the number of positive cases has risen in the Llanelli area, and action has had to be taken to help stop the spread and break the chain of infections concentrated in this area to prevent a whole county lockdown.

“We must all do the right thing, follow the advice and protect each other. In parts of Llanelli, we’re asking people and businesses to make even greater sacrifices – we fully appreciate the impact this will have, but there is no other way. We must stop the spread.”

A mobile testing unit has been set up in Llanelli to manage the increased demand by local residents who have any of the Covid-19 symptoms – either a high temperature, a change or loss to taste or smell or a new continuous cough.

Reporting of positive cases in the town is fully expected to rise during the next two weeks with the increase in more targeted testing. But this is a positive indicator that cases are being identified and control measures put in place.

Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board Maria Battle said: “Our local community has given us such tremendous support during the past few months. To protect the health of our people, including the most vulnerable, and to ensure our NHS resources are available to provide people with the care they need; we need the help of our Llanelli population and wider community now more than ever before. Whilst hospital admissions have not yet increased again for COVID cases, we have seen a sharp rise in positive cases in the community, and in time this is likely to have an impact on hospital admissions. The very best way we can support each other and those we love, is to follow local restrictions, minimise our contacts, practice good hygiene and self-isolate and book a test if we have any COVID-19 symptoms.”

Increased testing capacity for residents in Llanelli is available by appointment at the following locations:

  • Parc y Scarlets Car Park B, accessed via Trostre Retail Park, in Llanelli
  • The Ty’r Nant site (next to KFC), Trostre, Llanelli
  • The Carmarthen showground (signposted in both directions off the A40)

There should be no reason for Llanelli residents to travel excessive distances for a test, as there will be tests available in Llanelli and Carmarthen. Tests should be booked via the UK Portal. Any Llanelli residents experiencing difficulty booking a test locally via the UK portal can instead email covidenquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk or by calling 0300 333 2222.

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