Add your testimonial to those below and support the future of education on the St Davids Peninsula.
What has Ysgol Dewi Sant done for you and your family? Where has it led you in life? And why is it important that the school is at the heart of the community?
Read the testimonials below – it’s quite a school we have here!
I was educated at Ysgol Dewi Sant from 1964 to 1970. My two brothers, Alan and Gwyn and my sister, Sian were also educated here. My father was the Head of the Mathematics Department from 1960 to 1969.
St Davids has a long tradition of academic excellence which is superbly supported by Ysgol Dewi Sant as a cornerstone of the local community culture and spirit. Through these high educational standards the school has equipped many St Davids students to achieve excellent qualifications and go on to great academic achievements. The school provided my brother and my sister with the qualifications to attend Oxford University and for myself to attend Cambridge University.
The school is more than an excellent academic institution. It reflects and is an intrinsic part of St Davids unique spirit and culture as a centre of learning, culture and religion in Wales since the 5th Century. St Davids students emerge from the school as well rounded, cultured and educated adults with fine moral standards and decision making capabilities. The grounding the school provides reflects the community’s depth and culture and creates the necessary strong foundation for its students success in life.
Ysgol Dewi Sant alumni are found in all walks of life across the globe and their endeavor and success are a testament to the school’s ability to provide strength and firmness of purpose to its students.
The symbiotic connection between the St Davids Cathedral, Community and School is very strong and essential to the holistic nature of the St Davids community. The balance of such connections in the small St Davids community is essential to St Davids health and sustainability and any damage or loss to the school will have a disastrous effect on the community and the cathedral. Young families will no longer live in St Davids and the community will begin a long downward spiral to neglect and depletion. As this decline deepens and the community falls into decay Wales will eventually lose St Davids as its cultural, historical and religious heart.
Such is the delicate balance of the small St Davids community that closure of the St Davids school or reduction of its 11 through 18 mandate will irremediably damage the community.
Three generations of my family have attended Ysgol Dewi Sant (YDS) and I would like to share with you some of our memories of the school and what it means to us.
My grandfather started at St Davids County School as it was known then in 1934 and as he was the oldest of four children and my father the youngest of five, with me and my two sisters, we have notched up 37 academic years and counting at the school. My family were pupils during the 30s, 40s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 00s to the present day with me currently in year 12 and my younger sister in year 8.
Unfortunately my grandfather has passed away now but my grandmother has told me about his school days. By all accounts he was a good scholar and the headmaster was very disappointed that my grandfather didn’t want to continue his studies because he wanted to work on the family farm. My grandmother feels that the school must have instilled good values in my grandfather as he went on the first CND demonstration in London in the 1950s, was interested in conservation and was a member of Greenpeace. He also was a respected member of the community in his capacity as a district county councillor, a National Farmers Union area representative and as a J.P.
Looking through all the school exercise books that my Grandmother has kept it is apparent that they received a thorough education at Ysgol Dewi Sant. My aunts say that their time at the school gave them a solid grounding and they all went on to further education and got degrees and indeed the school inspired two of them to go on to became teachers themselves. A third became a social worker, another community-minded occupation.
They all feel a strong attachment to the school and whenever there is a family gathering at home, a lot of time is spent reminiscing and exchanging news about fellow ex-pupils. Three of my aunts live away now but they come home regularly and when they do they always meet up with their YDS friends for coffee and walks. One of them is our Religious Studies teacher!
Looking at my father’s old school photographs, and he actually bothered to write everyone’s names on the back, it is amazing how many I recognise because they still live in the St Davids area and many have children that attend the school currently. Several of the teachers spent their whole working life at the school and taught more than one generation of families. My older sister recalls that on her first day at YDS her geography teacher told her how much she sounded like her father.
My mother isn’t from St Davids, she was brought up in London and went to a 2000 strong all girl comprehensive school there. She remembers it as being a harsh, anonymous experience and she doesn’t have the same sense of shared history and community that my father and my aunts and that my sisters and I have got from going to YDS. She thinks that this will happen to St Davids children if they have to go to a much bigger school away from the immediate area.
We, as a family, are all agreed that Ysgol Dewi Sant is the centre of our community and if the school closes St Davids will suffer. In days gone by a lot of people worked at the St Davids Assemblies and Brawdy, two large employers in the area and which gave people a sense of camaraderie and cohesion. Now that this isn’t the case because of staff cutbacks, the school is the only thing left that people have in common.
There will be far-reaching consequences for the area as a whole and not just educationally if the school closes. There is a real danger that pupils at the school now will be more inclined to move away than their predecessors have been and at the same time fewer people will want to come and settle in an area that can’t offer them a local secondary school for their children. Other factors such as an hour-long journey to the Neonatal unit in Carmarthen and road access issues will compound this trend.
It is possible that the local population could dwindle to the extent that there aren’t enough people to cater to the needs of the tourists. It will be a case of ‘would the last person leaving St Davids please turn the lights out’ as everyone travels back to their homes in Haverfordwest.
I have really enjoyed being at YDS and did very well in my GCSEs and am working hard at my A-S levels. I have taken part in a lot of the activities offered at the school, for instance the orchestra, violin lessons, netball and hockey. I went on a sports tour to Dubai in year 11 which was an amazing opportunity for me because my family don’t get the chance to travel because of the farm. All the friends I have I have made through the school because we live on the outskirts of St Davids and don’t have any neighbours. I have a lot to thank YDS for and I can’t imagine what I’ll feel if it closes. I have always felt supported by the teaching staff and any problems my sisters and I have had have always been addressed straightaway, even when the school went through a difficult period.
I really hope that an alternative solution can be found that will mean that Ysgol Dewi Sant can stay open so that future generations of St Davids children can benefit from it.