The Welsh Education Minister, @Kirsty_Williams

“The situation for schools in Wales will not change on June 1st.” That was the message from Education Minister @Kirsty_Williams  

 

In a message posted on her Twitter account today (7 May), Kirsty Williams said:

“As you’ll know, there is a lot of speculation about what may or may not be announced regarding schools in England this weekend.

“As I have said before, you will always hear directly from me on the decisions we make in Wales for our pupils, parents and school staff.

“The situation for schools in Wales will not change on 1 June. You have my guarantee that we will give everyone time to plan ahead of a next phase starting.

“Any decision to increase the operation of schools will be communicated well in advance. We are working closely with local authorities to ensure that schools are supported in this preparation work.

“In the meantime, critical workers and those who need to use schools or hubs for your children should continue do so.

“We will continue to be guided by the very latest scientific advice and will only look to have more pupils and staff in schools when it is safe to do so. We will, of course, need to ensure that social distancing requirements can be adhered to.”

The Minister has also written to all of the main teaching unions in the UK and Ireland, in response to their concerns that schools will be open to most pupils before it is safe to do so.

Next week, the Minister will publish a working document which sets out more of the thinking, planning and modelling for the next steps for education in Wales, including childcare and further education. The document will include how key decisions will be reached and who will providing advice on those decisions.  

The Minister reiterated that the five key principles she previously set out to determine when and how schools will return to providing education for most school pupils will remain in place.  

She said: “Of my five principles the first, and most important, is the safety and mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of students and staff.”

Five key principles for schools and colleges

On the 28th April the Welsh Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, set out her five key principles which will determine how education will be phased in at schools in Wales.

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Ahead of her appearance at the Children, Young People and Education Committee, the Minister will explain her plans for a phased approach in allowing more pupils to return to school.

Schools are currently only open to children of critical workers and vulnerable children, with many local authorities adopting a hub approach rather than opening all schools in their area.

School provision will gradually adapt and extend further during the next phase, in line with changes to the current restrictions outlined by the First Minister last week. The First Minister published a framework with seven key questions to help lead Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Education Minister will set out five guiding principles which will determine when and how schools will return to providing education for most school pupils:

  1. The safety and mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of students and staff
  2. Continuing contribution to the national effort and strategy to fight the spread of Covid-19
  3. Having the confidence of parents, staff and students – based on evidence and information – so that they can plan ahead
  4. Ability to prioritise learners at key points, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds
  5. Consistency with the Welsh Government’s framework for decision making, to have guidance in place to support measures such as distancing, managing attendance and wider protective actions.

Kirsty Williams said:

“Our latest understanding of the rate of transmission of COVID-19 allows us to be hopeful, but still requires us to be cautious.

“It is vital that parents, staff and students have confidence in returning to school. We will only enter the next phase when the evidence and advice suggests that it is the right thing to do.

“I will communicate any decision to change the operation of schools well in advance of any required action, allowing school staff, pupil and parents to plan ahead.

“Schools will not immediately return to operating at full capacity. It will be a phased approach and I do not expect schools will suddenly open for all pupils, from all years, all week.

“The ongoing challenge of COVID-19 means we will prepare schools for a range of scenarios for the foreseeable future. However unlikely, we must prepare for an eventuality that requires schools to reduce operations at specific future points.

“I would like to thank the all those working hard to ensure that schools and hubs are able to provide support for those who need it. As I have said previously, our teachers, support staff and childcare workers have proved themselves to be national heroes.”

WRITTEN STATEMENT BY THE WELSH GOVERNMENT: COVID 19 Recovery Phase Planning: operation of schools

Our latest understanding of the rate of transmission of COVID-19 allows us to be hopeful but still requires us to be cautious. This statement is to update Members on the planning work for the next phase for schools.

School provision will adapt and extend further in the next phase, in line with timely Welsh Government changes to the current restrictions. In planning for that next phase for schools, there are a set of key principles for decision-making:

  1. The safety, and mental, emotional, physical wellbeing of students and staff
  2. Continuing contribution to the national effort and strategy to fight spread of Covid-19
  3. Having the confidence of parents, staff and students – based on evidence and information – so that they can plan ahead
  4. Ability to prioritise learners at key points, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds
  5. Consistency with the Welsh Government’s framework for decision making, to have guidance in place to support measures such as distancing, managing attendance and wider protective actions

It is important to remember that many schools settings are open – providing a vital service for the children of critical workers and our more vulnerable learners. Therefore I do not want to refer to a ‘reopening’ or a ‘return’, we are planning for a ‘new normal’.

Last week, the First Minister published a framework and seven key questions to help lead Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic and the operation of schools will be considered in this wider context. 

It is vital that parents, staff and students have confidence in returning to their setting. We will only be taking the next step for schools when the evidence and advice is that this is the right thing to do.

In the next phase, schools will not immediately return to operating at full capacity. It will be a phased approach. This means that I do not expect that schools will be open for all pupils, in all year groups, all week.

The ongoing challenge of COVID-19 means we will prepare schools for a range of scenarios for the foreseeable future. However unlikely, we must prepare for an eventuality that requires schools to reduce operations at specific future points.

We have, and are developing, a broad evidence base to inform these decisions. This draws on the latest health evidence, wider international experience, understanding of the workforce’s current capacity and health and well-being impacts on all staff and children in schools.  My officials are working with counterparts from across the governments of the UK, and with colleagues across our education sector (including further and higher education), on these matters.

I will communicate (any) decision to change the operation of schools well in advance of any required action. The Government will provide further guidance to help with the transition to the temporary conditions that will be required for schools during that time.

I would like to thank the all those working hard to ensure that schools and hubs are able to provide support for those who need it. As I have said previously, our teachers, support staff and childcare workers have proved themselves to be national heroes.

 

Y Gweinidog Addysg yn nodi pum egwyddor allweddol ar gyfer ailgychwyn ysgolion

Heddiw, bydd y Gweinidog Addysg, Kirsty Williams, yn nodi ei phum egwyddor allweddol a fydd yn pennu sut y bydd addysg yn cael ei chyflwyno'n raddol mewn ysgolion yng Nghymru.

Cyn iddi ymddangos o flaen y Pwyllgor Plant a Phobl Ifanc, bydd y Gweinidog yn egluro'i chynlluniau ar gyfer dull graddol o ganiatáu i fwy o ddisgyblion ddychwelyd i'r ysgol.

Ar hyn o bryd, mae ysgolion yn agored i blant gweithwyr hanfodol a phlant sy'n agored i niwed yn unig, ac mae llawer o awdurdodau lleol yn gweithredu drwy ysgolion hyb, yn hytrach nag agor pob ysgol yn eu hardal.

Bydd darpariaeth ysgolion yn addasu’n raddol ac yn ehangu ymhellach yn ystod y cyfnod nesaf, yn unol â newidiadau i'r cyfyngiadau cyfredol a amlinellwyd gan y Prif Weinidog yr wythnos diwethaf. Cyhoeddodd y Prif Weinidog fframwaith gyda saith cwestiwn allweddol i helpu i arwain Cymru allan o bandemig y coronafeirws.

Bydd y Gweinidog Addysg yn nodi pum egwyddor ganllaw a fydd yn cael eu dilyn i bennu pryd a sut y bydd ysgolion yn dychwelyd at ddarparu addysg ar gyfer y rhan fwyaf o ddisgyblion ysgol:

  1. Diogelwch, a lles meddyliol, emosiynol, a chorfforol myfyrwyr a staff
  2. Cyfraniad parhaus i’r ymdrech a'r strategaeth genedlaethol i frwydro yn erbyn lledaeniad Covid-19
  3. Hyder rhieni, staff a myfyrwyr – yn seiliedig ar dystiolaeth a gwybodaeth – fel y gallant gynllunio ymlaen llaw
  4. Y gallu i flaenoriaethu dysgwyr ar adegau allweddol, gan gynnwys y rheini o gefndiroedd difreintiedig
  5. Cysondeb â fframwaith Llywodraeth Cymru ar gyfer gwneud penderfyniadau, i sefydlu arweiniad i gefnogi mesurau fel pellhau, rheoli presenoldeb a chamau amddiffyn ehangach.

Dywedodd Kirsty Williams:

"Mae ein dealltwriaeth ddiweddaraf o gyfradd drosglwyddo COVID-19 yn caniatáu i ni fod yn obeithiol, ond mae dal gofyn i ni fod yn ofalus.

"Mae'n hanfodol bod gan rieni, staff a myfyrwyr hyder i ddychwelyd i'r ysgol. Dim ond pan fydd y dystiolaeth a'r cyngor yn awgrymu mai dyma'r peth iawn i'w wneud y byddwn yn symud tuag at y cam nesaf.

“Byddaf yn cyfleu unrhyw benderfyniadau i newid sefyllfa ysgolion ymhell cyn unrhyw gamau gofynnol, gan ganiatáu i staff ysgolion, disgyblion a rhieni gynllunio ymlaen llaw.

"Ni fydd ysgolion yn dychwelyd ar unwaith i weithredu i’w capasiti llawn. Bydd yn broses raddol ac nid wyf yn disgwyl y bydd ysgolion yn sydyn ar agor i bob disgybl, o bob blwyddyn, drwy'r wythnos.

"Mae her barhaus COVID-19 yn golygu y byddwn yn paratoi ysgolion ar gyfer ystod eang o senarios hyd y gellir rhagweld. Pa mor annhebygol bynnag y bo, rhaid inni baratoi ar gyfer sefyllfa sy'n gofyn i ysgolion leihau eu gweithredu ar adegau penodol yn y dyfodol.

"Hoffwn ddiolch i bawb sy'n gweithio'n galed i sicrhau bod ysgolion a hybiau yn gallu darparu cefnogaeth i'r rhai sydd ei hangen. Fel y dywedais o'r blaen, mae ein hathrawon, ein staff cymorth a'n gweithwyr gofal plant wedi profi eu bod yn arwyr cenedlaethol.

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