A PEMBROKESHIRE school, praised for its pupils’ mobile phone policy, will come under scrutiny by Pembrokeshire councillors following a recent visit.
Pembrokeshire County Council’s schools & learning overview and scrutiny committee, meeting on February 8, is to receive a report on a recent Schools Scrutiny Panel visit to St Davids’ Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi.
One point of school policy, raised in both the report and a recent meeting of full council, was the school’s policy on mobile phones, having recently introduced a ‘check-in’ ban on phones in class time; pupils checking their phones into a locked cabinet at the start of the school day, and retrieving them at the end of the day.
Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi is currently the only school in the county operating such a scheme.
It has been previously recommended that all schools in Pembrokeshire should look to following a similar policy to Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi.
A report for members said: “Teachers stated that they noticed an increase in concentration in students and pupils had also praised the new policy. The vast majority of parents had also praised the policy too,” adding: “Parents could still contact their children via the school reception.”
After the panel spoke to pupils, the report said: “The mobile phone policy was praised by all students who felt that they socialised more with each other and focused more in lessons when they did not have them.”
In October 2022 Estyn inspected the school, which was praised for the amount of Welsh used as an English medium school, and for its provision for students with autism, with students transferring from schools in Haverfordwest.
Mental health provisions available for students at Non and Dewi campuses was also praised, with mindfulness breathing, a wellbeing room, and even a Bearded Dragon called Dodo and a dog called Dewi available to help with stress and anxiety.
The report highlights one of the biggest challenges faced by the school is the struggle to hire new staff, and a struggle to hire a Welsh language teacher, and that there has been a drop in students after a bigger secondary school reopened in Haverfordwest; however, numbers were increasing with more children starting at the nursery (Aiden Campus).
The report says the panel was able to speak to a range of students on two separate occasions from the Non and the Dewi school campuses; students speaking of how they felt listened to and supported by the teachers and each other, with the Student Senedd praised as students felt they had a voice and were heard by their teachers.
While praising the mobile phone policy, and the strength of the student voice, the panel raised concerns at small portions for children with free school meals, which had been raised by pupils during the visit.
Members are asked to scrutinise the report and make any recommendations.