Speaking about the Education Minister's announcement to have two planning days at the start of term, Mary van den Heuvel, Senior Policy Officer at the National Education Union Cymru, said:

“NEU Cymru welcomes the approach from the Education Minister to have at least a day in school at the start of next term to make any necessary changes. We have communicated how critical it will be that schools are supported to put in place every mitigation possible at the start of the New Year - including masks, bubbles, and staggered start and finish times. We cannot have another term like this one.

"Whilst everyone would like schools to return to normal, with minimal disruption, it would appear the Omicron variant is spreading fast, and settings will need time to make the environment as safe as possible for learners and staff alike. Of course, education settings will only be able to open if they have enough staff to do so.

“NEU Cymru will continue to have conversations with the Welsh Government in the coming weeks. We have raised our members' concerns with the Welsh Government but appreciate this is a rapidly changing situation. The minimisation of disruption as well as the safety of learners, educators and the wider community remains the priority for us and our members.

“There will be further questions in the new year, and young people in exam cohorts will be particularly anxious about how their learning will be assessed, while teachers will rightly be worried about the overwhelming workload created last year when exams were cancelled. What is critical for staff and students is that Welsh Government ensure decisions are taken early and that everyone has enough time for proper planning and implementation.

"We would encourage everyone to take up the opportunity to get the booster vaccination."

 ENDS

Press contacts:

Contact: Mary van den Heuvel, National Education Union, Tŷ Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff CF24 5PJ.  Tel: 029 2049 1818    Mobile: 07815 071 419

e-mail: Mary.VandenHeuvel@neu.org.uk