Pupils won’t miss out if schools only open for three weeks, says First Minister
News | Gareth Axenderrie | Published: 15:17, Tuesday June 23rd, 2020.
Last updated: 15:17, Tuesday June 23rd, 2020
First Minister Mark Drakeford has said pupils won’t be disadvantaged when they return to school for three weeks instead of four.
Schools in Caerphilly County Borough were initially expected to reopen for four weeks from Monday, June 29, but last week the council announced they would close at the original end of term date on Friday, July 17.
Speaking at the Welsh Government’s daily press briefing on Monday, June 22, Mr Drakeford told Caerphilly Observer:“Children won’t lose out on the fundamentals [by only being in for three weeks].
“Every pupil in Wales will still have the opportunity to come back into school to meet their teachers, check in, catch up and prepare for the summer and September.
“In some places that will happen in three weeks instead of four, and that will mean that more will have to be achieved in the meetings pupils will have with their teachers.
Mr Drakeford also confirmed that, where possible, the Welsh Government still believes it is in the interest of children for schools to reopen for four weeks.
However, he did concede that such decisions can only be made locally, and local authorities must be free to make that decision.
Caerphilly joins several other councils in deciding to only open for three weeks, including Cardiff, Newport, Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent.
It is understood the decision was made because of issues with contracts for support staff, including cleaners and teaching assistants.
Teachers and unions have previously opposed the decision for schools to reopen before the summer holidays, with safety and social distancing a key concern.
NASUWT, Wales’ largest teachers’ union, said although the decision to extend the summer term by a week was made by the Welsh Government, the problems associated with delivering it were dropped onto local authorities.
Neil Butler, NASUWT’s national official for Wales, said: “Whilst the NASUWT was prepared to agree to a joint statement with the Welsh Local Government Authority (WLGA) that volunteers could be called upon for that week, the WLGA was unable to get agreement from other parties.
“Now that the majority of Welsh local authorities seem to have decided that they cannot extend the term it is better, for consistency across Wales, that the idea is dropped.”
When schools reopen on Monday, June 29, only a third of pupils will be present at once, with year groups broken down into smaller groups in order to maintain strict social distancing.
Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams has described it as an “opportunity to check in and catch up”, as no formal teaching will take place.
Support us with £3 a month membership and go ad-free. For the last ten years, Caerphilly Observer has provided an award-winning, balanced, and independent news service to the people of Caerphilly County Borough.
However, running a professional news service comes at a financial cost. Caerphilly Observer is predominantly funded through advertising and while this has supported us in the past, the future economic outlook in light of the coronavirus outbreak looks bleak.
We believe the public should be informed about their community, coherently and with context. We also believe that public interest journalism should not be put behind a paywall.
We are asking readers for their support to help us develop and grow our service.
Our membership costs just £3 a month and in return, you can use our website without adverts.