Coronavirus (COVID-19) Latest Education Information
January Term 2021 & Childcare Provision for Critical Workers & Vulnerable Pupils
Blaenau Gwent Council schools will continue to deliver a remote learning model until 29th January 2021, following confirmation from the Welsh Government that this would apply across Wales.
As an essential, and where no other childcare options are available, the Council is providing childcare provision for critical workers; vulnerable pupils and pupils with a Statement of SEN. Applications for provision commencing Monday, 18th January until Friday, 29th January are now closed.
If you applied, we will be in touch regarding applications on Friday, 15th January. Should the remote learning period be extended you will not need to re-apply and will be contacted directly.
This provision is intended only where there are no other alternative arrangements that are possible. Provision will be based on availability of places within your child/children’s school, with due regard given to staffing and remote learning requirements. Therefore, places are not guaranteed.
The hours of the provision for eligible pupils is 8.30am to 3.30pm, with exception of nursery pupils where the hours for will be in line with your child/children’s current nursery session times.
We only considered placement for the children of critical workers (as defined by Welsh Government), in the following circumstances:
• where there are no other childcare options available to facilitate critical workers attending their place of work;
• where parents/carers are unable to work from home, and must attend their place of work as a critical worker; and,
• if your child/children are currently in one of the following year groups - Nursery to Year 9 (up to 14 years only)
Your child/children should not access this provision if they are:
• A confirmed case of COVID-19
• Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
• Living with a confirmed case of COVID-19
• Identified as a contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19
• Living with someone with symptoms of COVID-19 and who is awaiting a test result
All parents/cares will have to provide their child with a packed lunch, as no catering provision will be available. However, free school meal direct payments will continue for eligible families who have been approved. There will be no school transport provision available throughout this period.
School uniform will need to be worn.
Arrangements for Welsh qualifications 2021
Update from Qualifications Wales (8th January 2021)
Qualifications Wales confirms it is to cancel the spring internal assessment window (due between 22 February and 23 April) for GCSE, AS and A levels. Revised assessment arrangements for the award of these qualifications in summer 2021 will be put in place shortly.
Following the First Minister’s announcement today (8 January 2021) that most pupils will continue to learn remotely until 29 January or possibly even February half term, Qualifications Wales is announcing that the spring internal assessment window for GCSE, AS, and A level, which were planned to take place between 22 February and 23 April, will not take place and new arrangements will be made.
Philip Blaker Chief Executive of Qualifications Wales said: “Following the decision that most pupils in schools and colleges will continue to learn remotely, the planned spring internal assessment window will not take place for GCSE, AS and A levels and revised arrangements, adapting the plans previously announced, will be made. We know that learners need clarity about how they will be assessed and there will be clarity on revised arrangements soon.
“The Minister’s Design and Delivery Advisory Group will now be considering the way forward and more detailed information about revised arrangements will be made available shortly.’’
Education Minister Kirsty Williams provided further details of how the system put in place to replace examinations for general qualifications in 2021 will work back in December.
The approach will ensure that teachers can design and plan teaching, learning around assessments in a flexible way to promote learners’ wellbeing and support their needs.
The Minister has confirmed her intention is for general qualifications in Wales to be supported by a three pillar approach made up of:
- Non-examination assessments
- Internal assessments
- Assessments that are externally set and marked
The decision has been supported by the news that the Welsh Government is investing an additional £1.9 million in education resources to support learners in years 12 and 13 in preparing for their A Level assessments.
To read the Minister's statement go to - https://gov.wales/education-minister-kirsty-williams-provides-further-clarity-system-replace-exams-general
Operating Schools around Coronavirus
We continue to work closely with schools to safely and effectively provide learning for our children and young people.
Schools participate in the Test Trace Protect system which means that learner groups and school staff are sometimes required to self-isolate where a case is confirmed within their learner group.
The following are currently self-isolating:
In all instances of confirmed cases amongst a learner group, parents of those children needing to self-isolate will be contacted directly by their school and updates will also be posted on our website and social media channels. Arrangements remain in place for remote learning, and schools will issue more information on this to families affected.
Remember - only the pupil is required to self-isolate as a precaution, family members and siblings do not need to stay at home, unless symptoms develop.
Procedures are already in place within all Blaenau Gwent schools to limit group numbers and pupil contact, coupled with enhanced cleaning regimes. There is no need for anyone who has not been contacted to self-isolate or be unduly concerned.
You can find more advice about self-isolation at - https://gov.wales/self-isolation-stay-home-guidance-households-possible-coronavirus
All residents are encouraged to remain alert to Covid-19 and continue to follow the latest national guidance to help combat the spread of the virus.
School staff remain vigilant to pupils displaying any symptoms, and are ready to take appropriate action. Parents, carers and guardians can support this by remaining alert and ensuring that children do not attend school if they develop any potential symptoms, however mild.
Should require information on childcare available within your area, along with more information on applying for childcare places, please contact the Family Information Service on 08000 323339. Please be advised that childcare providers will only allocate places to children that are not symptomatic or self-isolating.
Covid Secure Schools
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 for the latest information.
We have worked with schools to agree a number of key principles for the whole school re-opening. These include:
• All schools have a Covid Secure Risk Assessment in place
• There is full flexibility for staggered start and finish times to allow for social distancing – look out for details on this from your school
• Full risk assessments for members of staff where necessary in line with official guidance
• All schools will participate in the Welsh Government’s official Test Trace Protect Strategy which tracks cases of Covid-19 in the community and schools will communicate the importance of this. Schools will be keeping appropriate records to share with trained contact tracers if required
• If your child or anyone in the household has symptoms of Covid-19 please DO NOT send them to school and arrange for a free test through the Government’s Test Trace Protect (TTP) system - https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/guidance-accordion/test-trace-protect-coronavirus/
• Recognised symptoms are:
- A high temperature
- A new continuous cough
- A loss of taste or smell
• If your child develops recognised symptoms whilst at school, they will be isolated appropriately and you will be asked to pick them up immediately. Please make sure your school has your up to date emergency contacts
• Any positive cases identified in our schools will be managed through Public Health Wales’ robust procedures, in partnership with the Council and the school, and parents will be communicated with as necessary.
• School attendance is compulsory and whilst the expectation from Welsh Government is that no fixed penalty notices will be issued for the first half-term the legislation has not changed. It is vitally important for children and young people to attend school to make learning progress to realise their full potential. In partnership, we will work with parents and schools to improve school attendance and the position on penalty notices will be reviewed after the first half-term. We will work with parents and schools over any concerns.
• Parents/carers must not attend at a school (other than dropping or picking up children) without a pre-arranged appointment & should not gather or linger at the school entrance/exit
• Catering will be provided on site for those who want it. This could be cooked meals or a packed lunch style, your school will let you know more. Where possible pupils will remain with their learner groups for meal/snack times
• Breakfast clubs will not operate for the remainder of 2020. This will be reviewed for the start of 2021
• Pupils will stay in learner groups or bubbles as much as possible. For younger pupils this is likely to be in classes but the groups may be larger at secondary, such as year groups, in order to deliver the curriculum effectively. Social distancing will be implemented as recommended by the guidance. Older pupils will be required to observe the distancing measures, but it is recognised that this is not always easy with younger pupils and these will be allowed to mix within their class. Staff will continue to minimise their contact as much as possible
• There will be exceptions to this for our most vulnerable learners at our special school and these will be subject to full risk assessments
• Frequent hand washing and sanitising will be robustly built into school routines
• Schools will be cleaned in line with the current Welsh Government guidance, with a particular focus on touchpoints, equipment, toilets and highly frequented areas
• Personal Protective Equipment will only be used in accordance with current Welsh Government guidance for example in delivering personal care where appropriate (please see links below)
• Dedicated Home to School Transport will be available for those eligible. Buses will be regularly cleaned and sanitiser available for those on board. Drivers and escorts will maintain social distancing by use of screens and/or use of PPE if required by a risk assessment. Records of those travelling will be routinely kept for TTP purposes. Pupils must adhere to the rules of travel including wearing face coverings on secondary school transport. There is a zero tolerance policy for those who do not abide by the rules and/or exhibit poor behaviour during a journey. If a Secondary pupil removes their covering without out a medical or health exemption, they will be removed from the transport immediately and operators have the right to exclude pupils and refuse transport for 5 days pending a review by Transport, Education and the School
The use of face coverings in school settings
In many cases, home to school transport provision will be close to full capacity. It is recognised that the highest level of risk is associated with secondary aged and special school pupils. Therefore, provided that it does not interfere with any medical conditions, it will be requirement for these pupils to wear face coverings whilst travelling.
This will be in addition to the current range of control measures which we have in place, as detailed within the local Schools Reopening Guidance.
Whilst the risks are significantly lower for primary aged pupils, this group will be encouraged to wear face coverings, as a form of good practice.
Parents will need to supply the necessary face coverings for their child/children. However, it is accepted that there may be issues in terms of access and instances where face coverings are lost for example and we will provide single use masks on all transport for use on an exception basis.
Schools will provide further guidance including the need for a bag to keep reusable face coverings in, in order to manage infection control risks and single use coverings will need to be disposed of correctly.
Use of Face Coverings in School settings - we are now working with schools to encourage the wearing of coverings in secondary school communal areas where distancing cannot be maintained. We are looking to supply pupils with reusable coverings but at this point in time they will need to be supplied by a parent/carer.
This is subject to regular and ongoing review in line with Welsh Government guidance and a dynamic risk assessment process.
Please note - parents/carers are also now required to wear a face covering around the school building when picking up and collecting their child. Thank you.
Free School Meals
Direct Payments were made available for eligible families throughout the October half-term break, and also during the firebreak period for pupils in years 9, 10 and 11 that won’t be attending school for the week commencing 2nd November 2020. This application round is now closed.
To find out more about the eligibility for Free School Meals go to - https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/resident/housing-benefit-dhp/welfare-reform/free-school-meals-clothing-grants/
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 –
You can find contact details for all schools in Blaenau Gwent here
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:
- Welsh Government - Education Update 18.01.2021
- Welsh Government - Education Update 14.01.2021
- Welsh Government - Education Update 08.01.2021
- Welsh Government - Education Update 05.01.21
- Welsh Government - Education Update 18.12.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 16.12.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 10.12.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 07.12.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 23.11.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 19.11.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 12.11.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 10.11.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 30.10.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 22.10.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 19.10.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 16.10.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 13.10.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 12.10.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 25.09.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 22.09.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 08.09.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 02.09.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 26.08.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 25.08.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 19.08.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 17.08.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 11.08.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 31.07.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 23.07.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 16.07.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 13.07.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 09.07.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 06.07.2020
- Curriculum Bill Newsletter - 07.07.20
- Welsh Government - Education Update 03.07.2020
- Letter to Parents - Re-opening of Schools
- Welsh Government - Education Update 23.06.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 19.06.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 16.06.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 12.06.2020
- Welsh Government - Education Update 10.06.2020
- Support Pack 1: Managing our Worries
- Support Pack 2: Supporting children and parents/carers with learning at home
- Support Pack 3: Promoting Emotional Health and Well being
- Support Pack 4: Home school communications
- Support Pack 5: Transition back to school
- WG Letter to Flying Start, Families First, Family Information and Childcare Services - (ENG) 08.04.20
- WG Letter to Flying Start, Families First, Family Information and Childcare Services - (CYM) 08.04.20