PLAID Cymru Shadow Minister for Education Sian Gwenllian MS has called on Welsh Government to plan ahead and show proper leadership for the sake of young people.

“If the Government wants to regain the trust of young people, it must plan ahead and provide proper guidance”, said Ms Gwenllian.

“The next few days and weeks will be incredibly difficult for everyone as they settle into the ‘new-normal’ but I am confident that head teachers will deal with the inevitable initial problems as quickly as possible and that the focus will turn to the well-being of the pupils, addressing their educational needs and identifying individuals who will require extra support.

“In the meantime, the Welsh Government needs to look ahead to the coming months and keep its eye firmly on the ball if it is serious about regaining the trust of our young people.

“Pupils, parents and staff at our schools and colleges need to be reassured by the Education Minister that plans are well-advanced for responding to any future disruptions to education that may happen if more lock-downs are needed over the winter months.

“Confident national leadership, clear guidance and early decision-making is needed to restore the waning confidence of pupils, parents and the educational sector. For example:

· Early decisions need to be taken about using centre assessment grades rather than examinations for Year 11 and 13 pupils;

· Improving on-line remote learning, including live lessons, must be a priority for Government as well as ensuring all pupils have the necessary equipment and connectivity;

· The Education Minister and Health Minister need to work together to ensure adequate resources and support for the mental health needs of some pupils (that will emerge as they return to schools and colleges);

· Clear guidance is needed on local-lockdowns, and schools need to be supported in facilitating remote learning if local-lockdowns are needed.

“Welsh Government has to avoid the mistakes it has made so far – the examinations fiasco, passing the buck with face coverings, announcing a 4 week re-opening of schools without ensuring the prior consent of the Unions. They will be under close scrutiny.”

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