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Education

School consultations underway

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CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is consulting on four different proposals for schools in the county.

The council has a legal responsibility to review the number and type of schools it has and to make the best use of resources and facilities to deliver the opportunities that children deserve.

As a result, a wide-ranging programme to improve school buildings and enhance opportunities for learning is underway across Carmarthenshire, and to date £295million has been spent on primary and secondary schools across the county providing state-of-the-art facilities and accommodation to give children the best possible education.

Now local communities are being asked for their views on four different proposals to:

  • review primary education provision in the Mynydd-y-Garreg and Gwenllian areas;
  • change the age range of Swiss Valley Primary School from 4-11 to 3-11;
  • review primary education provision in the Blaenau and Llandybie areas;
  • reconfigure and remodel behaviour support services at Ysgol Rhydygors to improve provision for children and young people.

The consultations are running for six weeks ending on February 11, and will give everyone in the local communities the opportunity to have their say, either via the consultation pages on the council website or by emailing or writing to the council if preferred.

Links to the consultation documents are being sent to all interested parties, and the Education department will be organising ‘virtual’ drop-in sessions so that communities can discuss the proposals and ask any questions they may have.

Some informal sessions have already been held with parents and governors to give them a chance to speak to officers and ask any questions on the proposals.

The information gathered from the consultations will form part of the consultation report which will be submitted to the Executive Board for consideration following the consultation period.

Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “The council has a statutory obligation to keep the number and type of school places under review and to deliver services to clear standards by the most economic and effective means.

“Our schools need to be able to provide a wide range of services to the communities they serve, and it is important that future provision reflects the changing patterns of population, with schools based in the right location with the accommodation and facilities that are fit to serve the needs of 21st century learners.

“It is important that local communities and interested parties give their views on these proposals for their schools. All the details for each of the proposals can be found on the council website, or please contact us if you need paper copies.

“If you have any questions, I would urge you to please attend one of the virtual drop-in sessions that are being organised, further information to follow as soon as possible, or if you are unable to attend, please get in touch to speak to our officers.”

For further information on the proposals and to take part in the online survey please visit the council website carmarthenshire.gov.uk/consultations

For all other enquiries please email DECMEP@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or call 01267 246426.

Education

Work to start on new £7.4m primary school for Pembrey

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WORK will start on building a new £7.4million primary school for Pembrey before the end of the summer term.

The new school building will be constructed on recreation ground/playing field immediately adjacent to the existing school site on Ashburnham Road.

It will provide high-quality teaching facilities to improve the overall learning experience, as well as benefitting the local community.

The school will have capacity for 270 primary pupils, 30 nursery pupils and incorporate a Flying Start facility which is currently located in a mobile classroom on the current school site.

Headteacher Helen Jacob said: “We are looking forward to having our brand-new school building at Pembrey where we can continue to provide quality educational opportunities and experiences for our children.

“Everyone is excited at the prospect of learning in a modern purpose-built school that will be at the heart of the community.”

The project is part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Modernising Education Programme, and will be jointly funded by Welsh Government through its 21st Century Schools initiative.

It has been designed by the council’s own architects and the work will be carried out by local contractor TRJ Ltd.

The estimated completion date is the summer term of 2023.

Director of Education and Children’s Services Gareth Morgans said: “We are delighted that work will soon start to build a new school for Pembrey which will provide state-of-the-art facilities and accommodation fit for 21st century learning.

“Building the new school on the adjacent recreation ground means that we can reduce disruption as much as possible and at the same time extend the school site to provide the facilities that the pupils and staff deserve.”

The recreation ground is currently held in trust by the council, but will be transferred to Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council, in order to secure the use of the land for the new school.

Local residents and other interested parties in the community have been consulted as part of the process.

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Education

Older learners return to school

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OLDER learners in primaries and secondaries across Carmarthenshire have returned to school.

All primary school year groups are now back in the classroom for face-to-face learning.

Headteacher at Ysgol Y Bryn in Llanelli Stephen Thomas said it had been a pleasure to see all pupils return to school.

“Our pupils came back to school with beaming smiles and these have continued throughout the week,” he said. “After speaking with many of the children, they are expressing how happy they are to be back with their friends, to be back in the classroom with the teachers, off devices and how nice it is to be able to get out of the house and find some routine again.

“The focus for us now is reconnecting pupils with their friendship groups, promoting physical exercise daily following long periods of a lack of activity and simply allowing time for pupils to build their self-esteem and be happy again.

“We will continue our planned learning journey with the pupils, and I must say they have been fantastic getting back down to business. They have shown a real appetite for learning since returning to school and we are looking forward to seeing the progress they make for the remainder of the academic year.”

Secondary schools have welcomed back learners in years 11 and 13, as well as offering some flexibility for learners in years 10 and 12.

Pupils in years 7, 8 and 9 are also being given the opportunity to check-in with their teachers ready for a full return after the Easter holidays, as long as coronavirus rates continue to fall.

Headteacher at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman Nerys Nicholas said the school has welcomed back learners in a phased return which would help them to prepare for the summer term.

She said: “It has been lovely to welcome back our older pupils onto the school site in a phased return programme since March 15 which has promoted increased confidence in all stakeholders.

“This period before the Easter break has allowed us to rekindle those positive relationships onsite which form the heart of the school community here at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman. Seeing familiar friendly faces, even behind the face coverings, has been wonderful.

“Both staff and pupils have been eager to re-familiarise themselves with health and safety strategies and to re-focus on the challenges ahead. I thank everyone for their continued co-operation, and we all look forward with hope to a full re-opening of schools in the summer term.”

The safety measures in place in all schools have been reviewed in line with Welsh Government’s latest operational guidance. Face coverings, social distancing, classroom bubbles and frequent handwashing/sanitising are now part of the new normal, along with lateral flow testing.

The testing is being offered to learners in years 10 to 13, along with all school staff to carry out at home twice a week; and the aim is to quickly identify those who are unknowingly carrying the virus so that they can self-isolate to prevent more people from catching it.

However, it is important to remember that the purpose of the testing is to complement the safety measures that have already been put in place in schools, and a negative test result should not be read as a means to relax or ignore social distancing or other measures to help reduce transmission.

Director of Education and Children’s Services Gareth Morgans said: “It is wonderful to see so many of our learners back in the classroom with their teachers and friends.

“We will be supporting our schools to help pupils with their learning, and to focus on their wellbeing which is equally as important. It has been an extremely difficult year for everyone, but our young people have been affected by the pandemic in a number of ways, and we must not forget how hard it has been for them, not seeing their friends and teachers, and unable to take part in the various activities they enjoy both in and out of school.

“I would like to thank all our schools and teaching staff for all their hard work this past 12 months, the dedication and resilience they have shown has been extraordinary. And I would also like to thank parents too for all their support and co-operation, having to juggle work with helping their children with home learning and all the other family pressures I know has not been easy.

“By working together we can keep our schools safe and open, and we can welcome back even more children after the Easter holidays.”

For further information on schools during the pandemic including further information on lateral flow testing please visit the Carmarthenshire County Council website: carmarthenshire.gov.wales/education

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Education

Older learners return to school

Published

on

OLDER learners in primaries and secondaries across Carmarthenshire have returned to school.

All primary school year groups are now back in the classroom for face-to-face learning.

Headteacher at Ysgol Y Bryn in Llanelli Stephen Thomas said it had been a pleasure to see all pupils return to school.

“Our pupils came back to school with beaming smiles and these have continued throughout the week,” he said. “After speaking with many of the children, they are expressing how happy they are to be back with their friends, to be back in the classroom with the teachers, off devices and how nice it is to be able to get out of the house and find some routine again.

“The focus for us now is reconnecting pupils with their friendship groups, promoting physical exercise daily following long periods of a lack of activity and simply allowing time for pupils to build their self-esteem and be happy again.

“We will continue our planned learning journey with the pupils, and I must say they have been fantastic getting back down to business. They have shown a real appetite for learning since returning to school and we are looking forward to seeing the progress they make for the remainder of the academic year.”

Secondary schools have welcomed back learners in years 11 and 13, as well as offering some flexibility for learners in years 10 and 12.

Pupils in years 7, 8 and 9 are also being given the opportunity to check-in with their teachers ready for a full return after the Easter holidays, as long as coronavirus rates continue to fall.

Headteacher at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman Nerys Nicholas said the school has welcomed back learners in a phased return which would help them to prepare for the summer term.

She said: “It has been lovely to welcome back our older pupils onto the school site in a phased return programme since March 15 which has promoted increased confidence in all stakeholders.

“This period before the Easter break has allowed us to rekindle those positive relationships onsite which form the heart of the school community here at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman. Seeing familiar friendly faces, even behind the face coverings, has been wonderful.

“Both staff and pupils have been eager to re-familiarise themselves with health and safety strategies and to re-focus on the challenges ahead. I thank everyone for their continued co-operation, and we all look forward with hope to a full re-opening of schools in the summer term.”

The safety measures in place in all schools have been reviewed in line with Welsh Government’s latest operational guidance. Face coverings, social distancing, classroom bubbles and frequent handwashing/sanitising are now part of the new normal, along with lateral flow testing.

The testing is being offered to learners in years 10 to 13, along with all school staff to carry out at home twice a week; and the aim is to quickly identify those who are unknowingly carrying the virus so that they can self-isolate to prevent more people from catching it.

However, it is important to remember that the purpose of the testing is to complement the safety measures that have already been put in place in schools, and a negative test result should not be read as a means to relax or ignore social distancing or other measures to help reduce transmission.

Director of Education and Children’s Services Gareth Morgans said: “It is wonderful to see so many of our learners back in the classroom with their teachers and friends.

“We will be supporting our schools to help pupils with their learning, and to focus on their wellbeing which is equally as important. It has been an extremely difficult year for everyone, but our young people have been affected by the pandemic in a number of ways, and we must not forget how hard it has been for them, not seeing their friends and teachers, and unable to take part in the various activities they enjoy both in and out of school.

“I would like to thank all our schools and teaching staff for all their hard work this past 12 months, the dedication and resilience they have shown has been extraordinary. And I would also like to thank parents too for all their support and co-operation, having to juggle work with helping their children with home learning and all the other family pressures I know has not been easy.

“By working together we can keep our schools safe and open, and we can welcome back even more children after the Easter holidays.”

For further information on schools during the pandemic including further information on lateral flow testing please visit the Carmarthenshire County Council website: carmarthenshire.gov.wales/education

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