- March 19, 2020
- Posted by: Jayne Bryant AM
- Category: Latest News
Q When are schools in Wales closing?
Schools across Wales will close for the statutory provision of education by 20 March 2020. Education Minister Kirsty Williams’ statement is available at gov.wales/statement-minster-education-kirsty-williams-school-closures-wales
Q Why are schools closing?
We are acting on a change of expert advice and increasing numbers of staff who are self-isolating.
Q When will schools open again?
We cannot assume schools will re-open for normal classes after the Easter break – this situation is being kept under constant review. From next week, schools will have a new purpose. They will help support those most in need, including people involved in the immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak. We are working across government and with local government to develop and finalise these plans. The key areas we are looking at are supporting and safeguarding the vulnerable and ensuring continuity of learning. We are looking in detail at how we can support and safeguard all those who benefit from free school meals and children with additional learning needs. Distance learning is available through Hwb www.hwb.gov.wales Further information will be made available as soon as possible.
Q What about exams this year?
The Education Minister has been discussing options with Qualifications Wales and WJEC, which are in the best interests of learners in Wales. There are no easy choices. Together, they have agreed the best way forward is not to proceed with this year’s summer exams. Learners due to sit their GCSEs and A-levels this summer will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work, drawing on the range of information that is available, including coursework. We will not be using the results to publish performance measure outcomes in 2020.
Q Are childcare settings closing?
We are not calling on childcare settings to close at this time. This will be kept under constant review. There are a significant numbers of parents across Wales who need to be in work, including staff working in the NHS, in our emergency services and in our critical national infrastructure – it is important these families can access childcare for their children which is safe, and which they can trust; We are working with local authorities and the childcare sector to ensure we have safe places where these children, and our more vulnerable children, can go.
Q But will childcare settings still be supported financially if the number of children attending falls?
Childcare settings are not being required to close at this time. This will be kept under constant review. Welsh Ministers have agreed if a setting is closed on medical advice or if children are not able to attend due to Covid-19, existing government funding will still be made available. This will include funding for the childcare offer for Wales. This funding will also continue where staffing numbers fall to a level that the setting is no longer safe to operate. Welsh Ministers also expect local authorities to maintain payments for childcare provided under Flying Start and for the provision of early education. The childcare offer for Wales provides 30 hours a week of government-funded early education (FPN) and childcare for eligible working parents of three to four-year-olds, for up to 48 weeks of the year. This is available throughout Wales. Childcare settings that do not currently have government-funded places should also be eligible for assistance under the wider packages of support for businesses being put in place across Wales and the UK.