Click below to read a letter from Ms. Beaumont
Wishing you a better new year in the hope you found some time to rest during the break.
Inevitably, and as I noted in my letter to you on 16 December, we have seen a difficult start to 2021 with Wales at alert level 4, and schools moving to remote learning, due to increased transmission of the new COVID-19 strain.
The First Minister will confirm today that we will bring the decision-making on schools and colleges into line with the Welsh Government’s three-week review timetable of 29 January. This means that learners will continue to learn remotely and vulnerable children and children of critical workers will have access to on-site provision, until then.
At that point, unless the rates of community transmission in Wales reduce significantly by 29 January, most students in schools and colleges will continue working remotely until the February half term.
I want to stress – guided by the TAG report, to be published ahead of the First Minister’s announcement – that this is not a simple binary choice between closing schools now and reopening them in February. The TAG report is clear on education’s contribution to our efforts to deal with this, not because schools are now more unsafe or pose a higher risk for teachers and children.
We are taking this action because the new variant is far more infections and is leading to increased numbers of people falling ill and being hospitalised.
We will use the coming weeks to work with local authorities, unions and head teachers to plan for the future. We want to work together creatively to look at all the possibilities for a phased, and safe, return of some pupils during this period. We have achieved this in every new term since the Summer and that’s down to our collective mission to prioritise our children’s growth, learning and well-being.
Colleagues will know that the new variance does not mean schools have suddenly become unsafe. They do not pose an increased risk to teachers or students.
However, keeping schools open does encourage children and adults to mix – inside and outside the school gates – at a time when cases of coronavirus are high in the community and we have a very infectious strain spreading quickly.
Our invitation to you is to keep working with us so we can use this time to tackle instances of digital exclusion, undertake fresh risk assessments and renew guidance, in line with issues raised by the workforce.
Please see letter from Director of Education
Dear Parent / Carer,
You will be aware that the Welsh Government has agreed that all schools should
move to online learning until January 18th.
Schools will remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable learners;
our special schools will also remain open, subject to risk assessment, as will our
Learning Support Centres. Please discuss individual circumstances with relevant
Schools remain safe settings. They operate under scrutinised risk assessments and
apply robust control measures based on the four key protective behaviours of
hand washing, social distancing, ventilation and the wearing of face coverings.
These behaviours remain effective in reducing the spread of the new variant of
the Covid-19 virus if adhered to correctly.
However, we also know that education settings being open can contribute to
wider social mixing and given that infection rates remain high in NPT, we
welcome the decision to migrate to online learning.
Our schools have prepared well for online delivery and we are confident that the
provision will be stimulating and relevant, building on your children’s previous
We would strongly urge all parents / carers to engage with schools in order that
their children fully benefit from home provision or, where applicable, access
learning at their school setting.
Educational provision will continue and learning will be scheduled on a daily basis
modelled on normal practice. We strongly advise that all pupils prepare for their
school day as they would normally and to attend their remote learning provision
in the exact same way as they on a school day.
We expect the Welsh Government to review its decision over the next week or so
and in light of decisions already taken by other UK governments, it is reasonable
to expect that this arrangement could be extended. It is therefore vitally
important that remote learning is not viewed as a short gap arrangement and all
pupils should participate in this provision in order to continue with and progress
Your children’s teacher will still be guiding their learning at this time. Please
follow what the school is setting. You should speak to your children’s school first
if you want additional help and advice about how to support their learning. Your
children’s teachers know them well and will want to help, for example with advice
• the best way to support your children’s learning
• how to access help for their specific needs
• what to do if you or your children have questions about their work
• what to do if you or your children are feeling overwhelmed about school
• what to do if you do not have access to a suitable internet-connected
device to access online learning activities from home (help is available to
support families via your school or local authority).
Your children’s school should always be your first point of contact and if you are
contacting your children’s school or teacher you should use the communication
channels your school has set up for this.
We expect schools to be delivering a mix of learning opportunities, which will
include where relevant, recorded and / or live lessons, a range of digital
communication and sign-posting to learning resources. We expect schools to
contact pupils individually where this is deemed necessary and to discuss progress
in learning with both pupils and parents / carers.
The effectiveness of this provision will be measured, in significant part, by the
extent pupils engage with it. Pupils have a key part to play in making this
We acknowledge that these are challenging times in our lives. However, learning
must continue to be a key priority for children and young people. These
arrangements can be made to work effectively and can benefit our pupils – your
Whilst we all have a responsibility to stay at home wherever possible and adhere
to the restrictions placed by Welsh Government to suppress infection rates, we
also have a responsibility to ensure that learning continues to light even our
darkest of days.
Director of Education, Leisure and Lifelong Learning,
Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council