Blaenau Gwent has today welcomed plans by the Education Minister to allow schools that can do so to safely reopen from the first week of September, with all schools to reopen from September 14.
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.
Schools which can do so will reopen from the first week of term. Some specific groups of learners might need to be prioritised during this week, such as Year 7, Resource Base Units for Primary/Secondary and Year 11. 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.”