Coronavirus (COVID-19) Latest Education Information

Schools to reopen to all pupils from September 

We're working with all our schools on plans to safely reopen to pupils in September.

Local plans and preparations are underway between Blaenau Gwent and schools in the area to review risk assessment, processes and systems to ensure individual schools can welcome pupils back safely in line with guidance by Welsh Government.

We have agreed with our schools the following phased approach to re-opening.

• Week 1 – 1st September; 2 planning days, that fall outside 6 INSET training days;
• Week 1 – 2 transitional days for Reception, Y3, Y6, Y7 and Y11; and,
• Week 2 – 7th September; provision available to all learners

Parents will receive more specific information from their school and the Council as it becomes available.

From September 14, school attendance will be compulsory. Parents are asked to contact their school if a pupil is unable to attend to discuss further.

Each school setting will have local challenges to address, including staffing levels. Work is underway with colleagues to confirm school transport arrangements. Blaenau Gwent will work closely with all schools to overcome such issues.

Welsh Government has also announced £29m to boost support for learners to minimise the impacts of the disruption due to the ongoing crisis. The equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants will be recruited across Wales throughout the next school year, targeting extra support at Years 11 and in Post 16 provision, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages. Blaenau Gwent will be working with schools and Coleg Gwent to clarify the details.

Councillor Joanne Collins, Executive Member for Education commented:

“Over the last few months, many learners will have felt anxious about loss of learning and not being able to see their friends. I welcome the Minister’s plan to allow schools to safely welcome pupils back in September in line with all necessary safety measures and Welsh Government guidance.

“We know hard working staff in schools, learners and their families may well be under additional emotional, financial and psychological pressure during this incredibly challenging period. We continue to work closely with schools and settings to consider how best to support the ongoing well-being needs of all learners at this tough time.


“Pupils’ learning has been severely disrupted by the crisis. The £29m pledge by Welsh Government to recruit extra staff to support the recovery phase, minimise the impacts on pupils, and continue the ongoing work to raise school standards.”

Updated 9.00am | 10.07.2020

Working together to reopen schools in Blaenau Gwent

The Welsh Government recently confirmed that schools will re-open for all year groups on June 29th, 2020. Only a third of pupils will be in school at any one time to allow for social distancing rules and the sessions are a chance for children & young people to ‘check in and catch up’ before the summer, in order to prepare for September when many measures are expected to remain in place.

Councillor Joanne Collins, Executive Member for Education at Blaenau Gwent Council, says:

"We're working closely with all our schools in order to welcome back groups of learners from the 29th June for ‘check in, catch up’ sessions, in order to help prepare them for September. The main focus of the sessions will be the well-being of our children and young people and for teachers to assess where pupils are with remote learning.

The Council has made a decision that the current school term in Blaenau Gwent will formally end on Friday, 17th July as originally planned. This decision is an approach that is being reflected across the Gwent region, and indeed across Wales, and we believe provides certainty to school leaders, teaching staff and parents so that they are able to effectively plan ahead.”

Watch our video about learners returning to schools in Blaenau Gwent here - https://vimeo.com/431849376

Attendance during this term is voluntary and a parental decision. You will not face any penalties for not sending your child to school this term. Children and young people who fall into the shielding category will carry on with online learning.

The Council is working closely with our schools; trade unions and other relevant partners on how our schools can open and operate safely. The well-being and safety of all learners and school staff is always our priority.

We know that each school will differ in terms of layout and arrangements for its learners, so please make sure that you look out for updates from your child’s school about the latest plans.

We have however worked with schools to agree some key principles for the re-opening. These include:

• All schools will open Monday to Friday for morning sessions only

• The current school term will end on Friday, 17th July 2020 as originally planned

• There is flexibility for staggered start and finish times to allow for social distancing measures to be followed

• Full risk assessments are being carried out in relation to buildings, pupils and school staff

• Key worker children currently accessing the childcare hubs will continue to access that provision with some slight changes. More details on our Covid Education webpage

• No on-site catering or meals will be provided. Where children are attending longer hours as part of the key worker provision they will be required to bring a packed lunch

• Classrooms will be adapted to allow for the 2m social distancing rule to be applied. There is acknowledgement that this will not always be possible among younger age groups and Welsh Government have advised on this further in their guidance (see links below)

• Schools will be cleaned in line with the Welsh Government guidance

• Personal Protective Equipment will be used in accordance with current Welsh Government guidance (please see links below)

• Where possible parents/carers will be asked to make their own arrangements for transporting their children to school. There will be limited availability of transport due to the current required social distancing rules. We are working closely with individual schools to establish the need for transport, and this will be based around a number of factors including distance; pupils with a disability or learning difficulties; authority looked after children; pupil age and routes to school

• The focus of the sessions is the well-being of pupils and a chance to catch up with their class teachers and peers

• Uniform can be relaxed at this time – although this is a matter for individual schools

Click here to read a letter from our Executive Member for Education & our Interim Director for Education - https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/story/news/schools-re-opening-a-letter-from-the-education-executive-member-interim-director/

The Welsh Government has issued comprehensive guidance for all those involved in the re-opening of schools & childcare settings, and this can be accessed here –

• Operational guidance:
https://gov.wales/operational-guidance-schools-and-settings-keep-education-safe-covid-19
• Learners guidance
https://gov.wales/guidance-learning-over-summer-term-keep-education-safe

You can find contact details for all schools in Blaenau Gwent here - https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/fileadmin/documents/Resident/Schools_and_Learning/Admissions_2019/Schools_Contact_List.pdf

Summer Childcare & Activity Programme

We are finalising arrangements for a summer childcare and activities offer, with the focus on providing support to vulnerable children and their families as outlined by the Welsh Government.

The school hub provision for the children of key workers has now ended. Funded childcare for children up to the age of four which has already been confirmed through the C-CAS scheme will continue.

The Welsh Government has provided funding to Councils through the Local Authority Emergency Hardship Fund to enable them to provide childcare and activities for vulnerable children and young people.

In Blaenau Gwent, over the summer period up until 31st August 2020, this means:

  • Registered funded childcare will be available for vulnerable children up to the age of 11 years. The Local Authority will be working with schools and partners to identify those families eligible for this provision and will make contact directly
  • For identified vulnerable children over the age of 11 the Council is working with the Aneurin Leisure Trust to offer an activities based programme which will be based outside in varied venues around the county borough. More details on this to follow
  • A summer holiday Enrichment and Engagement Programme – called Y Clwb Haf or The Summer Club - will run for two weeks during the summer holidays (weeks commencing 3rd August and 10th August). The summer clubs will be based at selected schools throughout the borough. Y Clwb Haf will be similar to the Summer Holiday Enrichment Programme (SHEP) which has run very successfully in previous years in the borough. Eligible families will be identified by schools working in partnership with the Council and its partners. Further information will be available soon
  • Blaenau Gwent Youth Service has been working hard throughout the Pandemic and has drawn up an extensive summer programme aimed at 11 – 25 year olds. The programme will offer face-to-face engagement, such as the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, and digital/virtual sessions. Activities will include themed virtual groups such as art, music and cookery; well-being walks and detached youth work. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for further details. The Youth Service will also provide transitional support for Years 6 to 7 and 11 to post-16. They will also offer support with employment, mental health and youth homelessness

Arrangements for Free School Meals

In line with the latest Welsh Government Guidance, Blaenau Gwent Council is offering a direct payment for free school meals. The weekly sum of £19.50 per/child (which equates to £3.90 per day - £1.00 breakfast and £2.90 for lunch) is available for children and young people who normally access their full-time education in Blaenau Gwent and are currently of  statutory school age (i.e. Reception to Year 11).

Payments will be paid directly into a bank/building society or post office account via BAC’s payment. The £19.50 payment will be issued to cover the weekly costs of your child/children’s free school meal(s). The money is to be used in order to pay for nutritious food for your child/children.

Eligibility

Direct payments are only available for children and young people who are eligible for free school meals and attend schools within Blaenau Gwent. If your child or children attend school outside of Blaenau Gwent, then you will need to apply to/contact the Local Authority in which the school is situated for your details of free school meals entitlement. Please note, you should only complete an application if your child/children are eligible for free school meals. Guidance relating to free school meal eligibility can be found via the following link: https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/resident/housing-benefit/welfare-reform/free-school-meals-clothing-grants/

To complete an application for direct payment, please visit the following link:
https://iweb.itouchvision.com/portal/f?p=customer:category_link:::::CUID,LANG:A2B40E379272FB6820B9E9053140A1A8C0CCEBC8,EN&P_LANG=en

If you have already made a direct application which has been approved, you will not need to re-apply.

Parents/carers will be contacted upon approval of a fully completed and eligible application, in order to confirm details of payment.

If your children are not entitled to free school meals and you and/or your family are facing hardship as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, meaning that you require help and support, please visit the Council’s website via the following link, to access information on options which may be available to you: https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/resident/emergencies-crime-prevention/local-help-support-covid-19/
 

Latest Welsh Government Information:

To keep up to date with the latest information on Education and Coronavirus (COVID-19) please follow the link to the Welsh Government website below: 

https://gov.wales/education-coronavirus


      

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