Speaking about the Education Minister’s announcement to fully open schools from 14th September, David Evans, Wales secretary for the National Education Union Cymru said:

“Our members, as well as learners and their parents and carers, want to see as many children as possible going back to school, but only if it is safe to do so.

We note the plans for wider return to school in September, with priority given to certain year groups and more disadvantaged children. We will be working with our members to try and make the return as safe as possible for everyone involved. The two weeks at the start of term to plan for the safest return possible is therefore very welcome.

“We believe having a blended learning approach as ‘back-up’ is sensible. Even when schools open fully, they may have to close again if there is a further outbreak as happened in Leicester recently, therefore having blended learning ready to use is sensible. For this blended learning approach to be successful, children will need help to get online, with access to a computer and internet, which, as we understand, some children currently do not have. Parents may need some extra training, to help support their children when learning at home.

“An increase to the education workforce is welcome. We believe that supply staff and those new to the profession will welcome the opportunity to provide extra support for those pupils who need it at this challenging time.

“We do believe that as more children will be welcomed back to school, Local Authorities should consider the use of public buildings, such as libraries, to ensure greater capacity for social distancing and focus on everyone’s wellbeing. More space would allow education professionals and learners better opportunities to keep safe and we look forward to seeing more guidance around this. This would also allow education professionals who are shielding to support learners at home, whilst keeping safe – and avoiding pressure on our precious NHS resources.

“We support the proposal not to impose fines for parents of children who don’t attend.

“Many education staff have been in school since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, and we are very aware that, like the young people, they need to have a break ahead of another busy term in September. The two weeks at the start of term to plan for the safest return possible is therefore very welcome.”

ENDS

Press contacts:

The National Education Union is an amalgamation of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and National Union of Teachers (NUT), formed on 1 September 2017. Please see the below contact details for assistance:

Contact: David Evans, National Education Union, Tŷ Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff CF24 5PJ. Tel: 029 20491818. Mob: 07815 071 164.