Union “surprised” at decision to let more secondary school pupils go back to school before Easter
A union reporting head teachers has expressed surprise at the Welsh government’s decision to allow more secondary school pupil to return to classrooms ahead of the Easter break.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams announced plans today for learners in years 7, 8 and 9 to return to schools for “check-in” sessions from March 15.
She did make it clear however that it is not “a full return to school.”
The aim will be to give learners the opportunity to check in with teachers, with a focus on support for wellbeing, and readiness for a full return to school after the Easter holidays.
The planned return of younger secondary school pupils would be in addition to all primary pupils, who are expected to return from 15 March, along with learners in years 10 and 12, those in exam years and students doing similar qualifications in colleges.
Younger primary pupils have been able to return to their classrooms since Monday, 22 February across Wales.
The plans will be subject to the regular three-week review of coronavirus regulations by the Welsh Government on Friday 12 March.
Initial plans would have seen years 7, 8 and 9 return after the easter break.
The National Association of Head Teachers Cymru has said it is a surprise of the proposed acceleration before the hard data exists to support it.
Kirsty Williams said: “Opening up education is a top priority for the Welsh Government.”
“We have already announced that from the 15th March, if the scientific advice still says it is safe to do so, all remaining primary school children will start to return to school, along with those in exam years and students doing similar qualifications in colleges and work-based learning.”
“There will also be flexibility for those in years 10 and 12.” The Education Minister said.
“Today, I am able to confirm our intentions to go even further, even earlier, and give schools the opportunity to welcome back learners in years 7, 8 and 9 before the Easter break.
“This would be to give learners the opportunity to check-in with teachers, with a focus on support for wellbeing, and readiness for a full return to school after Easter.”
“I want to make clear now that this will not be a full return to school for years 7, 8 and 9 before Easter.”
“The focus before Easter will be on learners who are undertaking qualifications, especially those in Years 11 and 13, and those studying practical vocational qualifications.” Added Kirsty Williams.
NAHT Cymru Director Laura Doel said: “We want nothing more than a safe and sustainable wider return to school and we all share the ambition of bringing in learners as soon as we can.”
“We understand the desire to allow learners to meet up with their teachers and in some schools this is already happening.”
“But we are surprised by the proposed acceleration before the hard data exists to support it.”
“We have not had a full return of foundation phase across Wales yet and what we don’t want is to see a is schools having to close again because we have brought in too many learners too quickly. The public will not forgive a third lock down.
“The profession stands ready to play its part but the government needs to provide a compelling narrative to reassure parents, carers and communities that their decisions are truly guided by the emerging science.”
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