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Schools in Wales to reopen for next phase from 29 June

Schools in Wales to reopen for next phase from 29 June

Children in Wales will have the opportunity to return to school before the summer holidays, Wales' Education Minister Kirsty Williams has announced.

Under new proposals unveiled today, all schools in Wales should start the next phase of a return on 29 June. The summer term will be extended by a week, therefore ending on 27 July. The next academic year from September will see the autumn half-term break expanded to two weeks, under the plans.

Each school is to take a phased approach to students returning under the plans;

  • Year groups will be split into cohorts with staggered starts, lessons and breaks
  • Only up to a third of pupils are expected to be present at any one time
  • Class sizes will be smaller than usual
  • The phased return will include both online and personalised classroom experiences, similar to experiences expected for September

Pupils will be expected to attend school, however, families will not be fined if they do not send their children to school this term. Children and teachers themselves or those that live with others who are shielding or are at more risk from the COVID-19 Coronavirus are not expected to return.

Schools in Wales have been closed to most students since 20 March 2020 due to the Coronavirus.

It has been revealed that in a recent survey, a large number of 12-18-year-olds in Wales have reported concerns about their learning, with only 11% saying they did not feel worried about their education.

Speaking on Wednesday, Education Minister Kirsty Williams said;

“My announcement today gives schools three and a half weeks to continue preparing for the next phase.

“We will use the last weeks of the summer term to make sure pupils, staff and parents are prepared – mentally, emotionally and practically – for the new normal in September.

“29 June means there will have been one full month of test, trace and protect, which will continue to expand. I can also announce that teachers will be a priority group in our new antibody-testing programme. As we continue to keep Wales safe, this approach will be critical.

“The evolving science suggests that warm weather and sunlight gives us the best opportunity to ensure more time in school. Waiting until September would mean almost half a year without schooling.  That would be to the detriment to the wellbeing, learning progress and mental health of our young people.

“This is and has been a worrying period for us all. I know that many will feel apprehensive. We have not rushed this work and this decision.

“The three and a half week period before the next phase also gives us time to keep watch on developments elsewhere and provides further check-points to review evidence and the roll-out of testing.

“This is the best practical option that meets my five principles which underpin my decision making.

“I am also convinced that it is only by returning to their own school that we will see increased attendance from our more vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

“Working together we will secure equity and excellence for pupils as they check in, catch up, and prepare for summer and September.”

New guidance for schools, childcare providers, further and higher educations institutions is to be published by the Welsh Government next week. The guidance will include information on managing facilities and cleaning, designed to help institutions as they prepare for the return of students.

Schools in England are following a separate timetable - primary schools have already started reopening for pupils in key year groups, while secondary schools are expected to reopen for key year groups from 15 June.

 

Photo Credit: Welsh Government

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