Needs of vulnerable children “will be met” through school closure period

(Title Image: Bristol Post)

Both party spokespeople questions to the Education Minister related to this afternoon’s announcement that schools in Wales are due to close by Friday.

Announcement due shortly on exam timetables following school closures

Shadow Education Minister, Suzy Davies AM (Con, South Wales West), focused on exam timetables, which she said would now be significantly affected by school closures.

The entry requirements for university and other higher-level qualifications will perhaps need to be looked at, as well as the finances of students who may have their courses stopped due to possible university closures.

Education Minister, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor), said the three governments in Great Britain were coordinating their response to exam timetables and an announcement would be made “in the very near future”. Discussions are also taking place with the university admissions body UCAS as well as universities themselves.

She stressed the importance of a fair and equitable solution for students – both previous years and this year’s cohort:

“First of all, can I say that any decision that I take with regard to the examinations will have at its heart the principle of fairness and equity to young people? It is not their fault that they find themselves in this situation. Their efforts should not be constrained or affected negatively by the situation and we want to make sure that we deal with them fairly and equitably, but also in a robust way as well, so that they can have confidence in the system, going forward.”
– Education Minister, Kirsty Williams

“Food and Fun” scheme to form basis for schools post-closure

Sian Gwenllian AM (Plaid, Arfon) welcomed the announcement of school closures, though it was clear exams either needed to be postponed or altered to adjust to the circumstances – possible using projected grades for university admissions.

What was important now is deciding how schools would work moving forward and what role they would play during the pandemic.

The Minister said schools would, in effect, be re-purposed as general childcare facilities aimed predominantly at the children of frontline staff. There would also be services available for vulnerable children – such as those reliant on free school meals.

“We will be building on the strong foundations and the very, very positive experiences of some of our Food and Fun (Playscheme) schemes, which local authorities are well used to running, and we will be identifying with our colleagues in local government key sites and key personnel that can help us ensure that meeting the needs of the most vulnerable children and the needs of those workers who we want out there on the front line can be addressed in the coming weeks.”
– Education Minister, Kirsty Williams

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