At several recent meetings, Plaid Cymru Gwynedd has taken the lead within education by providing guidance to Gwynedd Headteachers are they prepare schools for educating children in September.
"With schools now open for pupils across Wales, our headteachers in Gwynedd are now asking what the educational system will look like in September?" Cabinet member for education in Gwynedd, Councillor Cemlyn Williams, explains.
“Here in Gwynedd, preparations have begun and in meetings with other county councils across north Wales, we have shared Plaid Cymru Gwynedd’s vision.
“Unfortunately, the radio silence from the Welsh Government on this issue is deafening, and is severely disappointing following the ground breaking work that Education Minister, Kirsty Williams achieved when discussing school re-opening.
"As a result, we had to offer guidance to our 84 headteachers, to begin possible scenario planning that we may face in September, to enable schools to prepare for educating pupils during the next academic year.”
With only two weeks left of the summer term, time is running out for measures to be put in place by headteachers to guide staff, including teachers, support staff, catering staff and caretakers about how the schools will operate in September.
“Here, in Gwynedd, the pupil is at the heart of everything we try and achieve. Without clear leadership from the Headteachers, they cannot be expected to provide the best possible education, be that in the classroom, as a combination of classroom and live on-line learning or full-time on-line learning for Gwynedd pupils.
“Our children and young people have also been through the mill over the last few months. Their ears have not been deaf to the COVID-19 messages in the media and on social media. We have a duty as a county, as support services, as teachers, as parents, to reassure and inform our pupils about what their education will look like in September.”
Another element that Plaid Cymru Gwynedd is pressing for guidance from the Welsh Government is, will there be care provision for vulnerable children over the summer period?
Plaid Cymru Gwynedd’s Children and Young People cabinet member, Cllr Dilwyn Morgan said: “Since COVID-19 struck, there has been close collaboration between the education department and the children and young people's department where social services, youth workers and family support sections work in Gwynedd.
“This new way of working has ensured that the expertise, knowledge sharing and experience of both teams has placed the child at the centre of our care, education and support networks.
"Unfortunately, no guidance has been forthcoming from the Welsh Labour Government, as we approach the end of the summer term, on how we can continue to care for the county's vulnerable children. Families who need help and support in Gwynedd need to know what will be available to assist them to care for vulnerable children, as they move into the holiday period.
"We are also, of course, bitterly disappointed that the Education Minister in Cardiff is NOT going to provide funding to support key workers’ with children over 5 during the summer months. We have asked the question, because children under 5 will be cared for. These are the families who have been at the forefront of tackling COVID-19, the disrespect shown to them by the Labour Party is disgraceful.
"The Minister really needs to set her stall, discuss with the Unions as a matter of urgency and announce what kind of support will be available from Wales county councils to vulnerable children over the summer period?"
Senedd Member for Arfon, Siân Gwenllian, said: “Despite the lack of guidance from the Education Minister, I am pleased to see that Gwynedd Council is already actively seeking to ensure that provision is in place for the care of vulnerable children during the summer holidays. With the usual summer provision not in place due to COVID pressures, our most vulnerable children must be given priority. Is it disappointing that there will be no support for children of key workers over the age of 5, I will continue to challenge the Minister on this issue.
"Looking ahead to September, we know that there is a big challenge ahead and that Gwynedd is to be commended for trying to reach an early understanding with their headteachers about what provision will be needed in September whilst keeping a close eye on infection levels. The sooner our schools are fully reopened the better for all our pupils - but it must be safe to do so. A huge thank you goes to everyone for their work in such challenging circumstances.”
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