PLAID Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Education, Siân Gwenllian MS, has called on the Education Minister to publish her Covid mitigation action plan.
The call has come in the wake of “mounting concerns” about the impact that long term school closures are having on pupils.
Ms Gwenllian said she had been contacted by parents from “across Wales” saying that it was becoming “increasingly difficult to motivate their children to engage in their education.
The Shadow Education Minister said that many children and young people were not able to access remote-learning due to lack of equipment or connectivity and that “thousands” were “just not engaging” due to a lack of encouragement they would usually get from regular interaction with teachers.
Ms Gwenllian called for a more structured plan to include refined online learning, given that it is looking less likely all children will be back to school full time in September.
Plaid Cymru’s priorities for a mitigation plan include:
Providing the correct equipment and technology to enable all pupils to get on on-line
Establishing and maintaining continual interaction between teacher and pupil – including live-streaming of lessons
Targets for how much work needs to be submitted and targets for feedback
Further investment in educational on-line platforms
Log-on / attendance targets for each pupil/school
Investment in schools as well-being hubs – a multi-agency approach centred around the school investment in family liaison work, with priority given to those pupils currently not engaging in any education.
Ms Gwenllian also called for clarity on the consequential funding that should come to Wales as a result of the UK Government’s announcement last week about extra funding for education.
A joint report published today by Barnardo’s Cymru and Action for Children Cymru notes the importance of partnership working between schools and family support services to support pupil’s mental health, wellbeing and learning.
On Tuesday, a report by Wales’ Children’s Commissioner Sally Holland said that some of Wales’ most vulnerable children were being “lost in a maze of bureaucracy” and that in most areas of Wales children experiencing distress with mental health, emotional wellbeing and behavioural issues are being bounced between services.
Ms Gwenllian called on Government to work together with the Children’s Commissioner and Barnados’ Cymru to map out effective interventions that could be put in place before September.
Siân Gwenllian MS said:
“There is mounting concern about the impact of long term school closures on pupils.
“Many parents from across Wales have contacted me saying it is becoming increasingly difficult to motivate their children to engage in their education. Many children and young people are not able to access remote-learning due to lack of equipment or connectivity. Thousands are just not engaging in their education at all because they are not being given the essential encouragement that they would get from regular interaction with their teachers, showing how vital the relationship between teacher and pupil is in our education system.
“The lack of interaction with teachers, minimal feedback and not feeling part of a class working towards the same ends makes it very hard for even a keen student to stay motivated.
“The whole situation is unprecedented and has put schools under huge strain. However, if children will not be at school full time in September, there must be a plan to provide more structured education, with regular online teaching, better feedback on work, more interaction with teachers, and active support for families with priority given to those pupils who have not been engaging in their education to date.
“The Education Minister needs to urgently publish a focused mitigation plan. Clarity is needed on the consequential funding that should come to Wales as a result of the UK Government’s announcement last week about extra funding for education.
“The current situation will have a lasting impact on today’s young people in terms of both their education and mental health. The government needs to work with the Children’s Commissioner and others such as Barnardo’s Cymru and Action for Children to map out effective interventions that can be put in place in September.