ON MONDAY, July 13, the Welsh Government published updated guidance to support schools before the return of all pupils in September.
Last Thursday, the Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, announced that all learners would be able to return to schools in the autumn.
The guidance will supports schools, local authorities and settings to implement full operations in the autumn, including new guidance on contact groups.
The Welsh Government will make £29 million available to ‘recruit, recover and raise standards’, in response to the pandemic.
Kirsty Williams, the Minister for Education, said: “This updated guidance reflects the latest medical and scientific advice, striking a balance between structured national guidance and local flexibility.
“We have learned this year that we must be prepared for a range of scenarios. This guidance sets out what learning priorities should remain constant, regardless of where learning takes place.
“It will support our schools and education settings in ensuring learners continue to access a broad and balanced curriculum and continue to make progress in their learning.
“I would like to thank our local authorities and the trade unions for their input into this guidance, and of course our school staff for their dedication, professionalism and hard work over the last few months, which has set us in good stead for a full return in September.”
Laura Doel, director of school leaders’ union NAHT Cymru, said: “We welcome the fact that schools now have a degree of clarity about what the September return will look like. Schools can now begin to put plans in place to welcome all pupils back next term. However, we should not underestimate the scale of the logistical challenges this guidance will pose school leaders in particular. We should make no mistake, this is not a return to ‘business as usual’ and there is a great deal of work that now needs to be done.
“There are some specific areas where we still need clarity from the Welsh government. These include their recommendations around the use of face coverings, and how they expect wrap-around care to operate.
“It is essential the Welsh government continues to engage with us on these and other matters too so that schools and parents alike have full confidence in the government’s plan for a full return in September.
“Education Minister Kirsty Williams and Co-chair of TAC Fliss Bennee are joining our NAHT Cymru webinar tomorrow evening where school leaders will have the opportunity to put their questions to them directly and we welcome the willingness and transparency of Welsh Government to engage with the profession.”
David Evans, Wales secretary for the National Education Union Cymru said: “Our members, as well as learners and their parents and carers, want to see as many children as possible going back to school, but only if it is safe to do so.
“We note the plans for a wider return to school in September, with priority given to certain year groups and more disadvantaged children. We will be working with our members to try and make the return as safe as possible for everyone involved. The two weeks at the start of term to plan for the safest return possible is therefore very welcome.
“We believe having a blended learning approach as ‘back-up’ is sensible. Even when schools open fully, they may have to close again if there is a further outbreak as happened in Leicester recently, therefore having blended learning ready to use is sensible. For this blended learning approach to be successful, children will need help to get online, with access to a computer and internet, which, as we understand, some children currently do not have. Parents may need some extra training, to help support their children when learning at home.
“An increase in the education workforce is welcome. We believe that supply staff and those new to the profession will welcome the opportunity to provide extra support for those pupils who need it at this challenging time.
“We do believe that as more children will be welcomed back to school, Local Authorities should consider the use of public buildings, such as libraries, to ensure greater capacity for social distancing and focus on everyone’s wellbeing. More space would allow education professionals and learners better opportunities to keep safe and we look forward to seeing more guidance around this. This would also allow education professionals who are shielding to support learners at home, whilst keeping safe – and avoiding pressure on our precious NHS resources.
“We support the proposal not to impose fines for parents of children who don’t attend.
“Many education staff have been in school since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, and we are very aware that, like the young people, they need to have a break ahead of another busy term in September. The two weeks at the start of term to plan for the safest return possible is therefore very welcome.”
Children at Richmond Park Primary in Carmarthen receive enterprise education programme
CHILDREN at Richmond Park Primary in Carmarthen have embarked on an enterprise education programme provided to the school by VINCI Building, the UK construction division of VINCI Construction, which is delivering upgrades and infrastructure works at Withybush General Hospital under the joint venture IHP, the alliance between VINCI Construction UK and Sir Robert McAlpine.
VINCI Building has partnered with 2B Enterprising to provide the children with an innovative enterprise skills programme called The Bumbles of Honeywood. This programme is exclusively focussed on primary education and is delivered in collaboration with commercial business partners through the 2B Enterprising Corporate Engagement Partner programme. To date this unique model has partnered 70 businesses with 170 schools across the country educating over 10,000 children.
The aim is to help children develop enterprise skills from an early age and to boost awareness of the careers available in construction. As well as supplying the package, VINCI Building’s team have visited the school to talk about their work and have arranged for pupils to visit VINCI Building at work.
The Bumbles of Honeywood programme has been developed by entrepreneurial business leaders and experienced educators with extensive input from teachers. Cultivating entrepreneurship and enterprise skills from a young age shows huge value in equipping pupils for their future lives and careers. Lesson plans have been created to ensure teachers can map the learning to their curriculum – not only hitting entrepreneurial skills criteria but supporting other areas of learning such as Oracy, Literacy, Numeracy and Modern and Foreign Languages.
The programme is built around a series of beautifully illustrated books and interactive extension activities that explore the enterprising nature of honeybees and other characters to help children develop skills such as resilience, problem solving, leadership, communication, and teamwork.
Russell Flowers, regional director for VINCI Building, said: “This is an exciting programme that raises awareness about careers and supports the communities we work in. We want to encourage more young people, in particular more young women, to consider careers in construction, and this programme will help us to achieve that. Our teams really enjoy their visits to the schools and are impressed by the children’s energy and enthusiasm. This is a great investment in our future generations.”
Helen Wyn Luff, Headteacher at Richmond Park Primary said: “As a Carmarthen school, very local to Glangwili Hospital, we have been thrilled to be able to welcome VINCI Building and The Bumbles of Honeywood into our school.
“The children adore the characters in The Bumbles of Honeywood programme which is thoughtfully devised and provides the children with stories and activities which are both fun and informative.
“VINCI Building have also supported us in our Maths Week – a week where all classes focussed fully on developing both practical and reasoning skills. A visit from staff at VINCI Building really helped bring aspects of this week to life. The children were very enthusiastic about this project and about meeting people from VINCI Building to find out more about their work. This programme not only gives the pupils vital skills for their future lives; it also gets them thinking about what career they could aspire to.
“We look forward to exploring the Bumbles of Honeywood further and working closely with VINCI Building.”
Jayne Brewer, 2B Enterprising CEO, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with VINCI Building to bring The Bumbles of Honeywood into five more schools. Enterprise education is increasingly being recognised as a key requirement, and something that should start from a young age. Our Corporate Engagement Partners play a vital part in this, helping to inspire and educate pupils by giving them real life examples of enterprise in action. As well as helping the pupils gain valuable life skills, VINCI Building are introducing them to the wide array of job opportunities that exist in construction and raising awareness of the exciting building projects happening in their area.”
Carmarthenshire’s Welsh in Education Strategic Plan approved by Welsh Government
A PLAN to develop Welsh language skills in children and young people in Carmarthenshire over the next 10 years has been approved by Welsh Government.
The Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) sets out how Carmarthenshire County Council will increase bilingual education in schools across the county.
Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles MS has approved the plan which
shows how the council will develop Welsh language provision in its schools.
Based on outcomes and targets set by Welsh Government, it includes more nursery and reception children being taught through the medium of Welsh; more young people studying for qualifications in Welsh as a subject, and subjects through the medium of Welsh; increasing provision for learners with Additional Learning Needs; and increasing the number of teachers able to teach Welsh and through the medium of Welsh – with continuing support to develop staff through a comprehensive and flexible training programme.
Carmarthenshire, like all local authorities in Wales, have to submit the plans to Welsh Government as part of its target to have one million Welsh speakers by 2050.
Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language Cllr Glynog Davies said: “ I am delighted that the Minister has approved our plan ready for September. However, it is important to stress that this will be a gradual journey over the next 10 years.
“This plan is about increasing the opportunities for children and young people to become bilingual, and all the benefits that brings with it.”
The council will be working closely with schools and local communities to implement the plan which will see 10 schools moving to becoming Welsh language education over the next 10 years creating an opportunity for at least a further 300 learners to be educated bilingually.
Cllr Davies added: “We want to build on the excellent work that has already been carried out in our schools, increasing the number of people of all ages who can speak Welsh, and creating strong and sustainable bilingual communities.”
Join in the fun with Carmarthenshire libraries’ Summer Reading Challenge
CHILDREN in Carmarthenshire are being urged to take part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge which is all about science and innovation.
Visit any of Carmarthenshire’s libraries during the school summer holidays to meet the Gadgeteers.
Through an exciting book collection and accompanying activities, the Gadgeteers will help spark children’s curiosity about the world around them and encourage them to feed their imagination. They will be boggled by brilliant facts and be inspired by tales of creativity and invention.
The Summer Reading Challenge is open to all primary school-aged children aged four to 11 and combines free access to books, and fun, creative activities during the summer holidays.
Children can sign up through their local library where they will receive their Gadgeteers core pack poster. They can set a reading goal and borrow and read books of their own choice.
Children who complete the Summer Reading Challenge are presented with a certificate and a medal.
Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure Culture and Tourism Cllr Gareth John (pictured at Carmarthen Library with children from Ysgol Y Dderwen) said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is a fun initiative for families during the summer holidays, and it’s free to take part.
“It can help children to improve their reading skills and confidence before they return to school in September, and it is also a good opportunity for families to explore the range of books available at our libraries.
“With plenty of options across picture books, early readers and middle grade books,
there is lots to keep children busy.”
The Summer Reading Challenge, a unique partnership between The Reading Agency and public libraries across the UK.
Children are also encouraged to explore the dedicated Summer Reading Challenge website, where they can take part in the digital Challenge and explore various online activities.
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