To consider the report of the GwE Managing Director and Chair of the GwE Management Board (attached)
(a) Support the regional approach and model, with GwE, Local Authorities and schools working in partnership to ensure that the individual needs of learners are met in an individualised local context.
(b) In order to allow schools to prepare and plan, to ask for clarity from WJEC and Qualifications Wales regarding their plans for summer 2021 as soon as possible.
(a) Support the regional approach and model, with GwE, Local Authorities and schools working in partnership to ensure that learners' individual needs are met in an individual local context.
(b) In order to allow schools to prepare and plan, seek clarity from WJEC and Qualifications Wales regarding their plans for summer 2021 as soon as possible.
Presented - report by GwE's Managing Director and Management Board Chairperson presenting a discussion paper in relation to a North Wales Model for Re-opening Schools. The Joint Committee was asked to support the regional approach and model, with GwE, Local Authorities and schools working in partnership to ensure that learners' individual needs are met in an individual local context.
The Chairperson of GwE's Management Board noted that schools are looking forward to September however that caution needs to be taken and that schools would need to assess their pupils' fitness for learning before introducing any new learning. He also emphasised that it is extremely important that the considerable expenditure needed in this respect be targeted appropriately, and that the regions are entitled to decide how best to allocate the money. He added that Welsh Government acknowledges that the work in North Wales is driving the agenda, and that they are eager to roll this out across Wales.
Comments arising from the discussion -
· Considerable concern was expressed about learners' emotional well-being, children who would have disengaged from educational experiences and needing support and counselling with their experiences over the lockdown. It was noted that national funding for counselling was completely inadequate and it was noted that an element of the £29m as recently announced by the Education Minister for supporting schools to recruit, reinstate and raise standards, or other funding, should be targeted for this.
· It was emphasised that it is important that whatever happens should happen soon, so that everybody gets the opportunity to take a proper break over the summer.
· It was noted that it is clear that the secondary sector requires more support than the primary sector in terms of social distancing rules and creating bubbles etc., as secondary schools teach several different subjects. In response, it was agreed that the situation with secondary schools is much more challenging and complex, and reference was made to the Government's new guidance, which includes re-drafted risk assessments.
· The importance of ensuring that schools do not use this additional funding to fund gaps in their budgets was emphasised. In response, it was noted that Welsh Government had clearly stated that this is a separate pot of money, which was not available to fund gaps in budgets, or to prevent redundancies, and that schools must clearly show how the money will be used.
· It was noted that clarity is needed regarding the situation of those pupils in years 11 and 13 in 2021. In response, it was noted that lack of information about any possible adjustment to the qualifications would stop schools from preparing and planning appropriately.
· Reference was made to the importance of work in conjunction with Bangor University to develop children and young people's literacy and numeracy.
· In response to a question regarding the situation facing teachers and children in September, it was emphasised that the situation would not be as simple as 'catching up', and that pupils would require continuous support for the foreseeable future. Members could be updated at the next Joint Committee meeting on 15 September 2020, with a fuller report given on the situation further along in the autumn.