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Welsh Government publishes its Covid-19 Resilience Plan for the Post-16 Sector

THE Welsh Government has published its plan to get post-16 education back up and running in Wales. and it is aimed at education for learners aged 16 and over, including further and higher education, apprenticeships, employability and adult learning.

The Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “The coronavirus has presented huge challenges for both students and education providers, in both the immediate and the longer term.

“This Resilience Plan will provide a clear focus so we can work together with our education partners to overcome these challenges.

“This plan will complement our continuity of learning plan for schools, ‘Stay Safe. Stay Learning’, but recognises the greater levels of autonomy and diversity of education and training provided by the post-16 sector.

“Our colleges, universities and training providers are critical to the national response to the coronavirus and the rebuilding of the economy. We are committed to doing all we can to support them.”

The document identifies thirty two groups to focus on including  A-level students in year 13 preparing for higher education in the autumn term; apprentices unable to continue their full schedule of learning due to workplace closures; those learning through the medium of Welsh who cannot access the range of Welsh medium learning and resources required and learners who do not have access to the equipment, connectivity or skills to access online learning..

There are three stages of the Covid-19 Resilience Plan:

The first stage is termed ‘Rescue’ and it is “is already well underway, and has centred on the shift to online delivery, with associated work to ensure stability of funding for providers and learners.operational now. until June.’

It also aims to “making sure providers have security of funding and immediate arrangements for continuity of learning are in place” and ”Planning for potential changes to provision, funding and learning delivery for Autumn 2020 and beyond.”’

The Welsh Government, has identified some of the challenges during the rescue phase:

“For learners, the most significant impact is the cancellation of A levels and GCSEs and arrangements for awarding vocational qualifications.

“This has caused considerable uncertainty for learners, and substantial work for staff who are required to work with awarding organisations to estimate grades, alongside their efforts to keep learners engaged and prepare them for transition later in the year.

“Since education providers in Wales closed for face-to-face learning on March 20, colleges and universities have moved to remote learning, delivering online lectures, tutorials and reviews, as well as ensuring support for more vulnerable learners continues.”

The second phase is termed ‘Review’ and it plans for potential challenges and changes facing learners this coming autumn. Including :

Although some learners may return to face-to-face learning during the summer term 2020, many will not.

Many learners, will need practical and emotional support to reintegrate into learning after prolonged isolation.

There is a likelihood of redundancies and/or reduced starts in apprenticeships,

Higher and further education institutions are likely to see a significant fall in international and EU student numbers with a consequential serious financial impact.

The third phase is called ‘Renew’ and it is aimed at “putting revised arrangements in place for the academic year 2020/21 and evaluating the impacts of Covid-19.”

During this phase the Welsh Government says it wants to “review our medium- and longer-term approaches” to post-16 education and ‘evaluate” the impacts of coronavirus on the Welsh economy whilst using further education to help get us out of the economic crisis.

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