Commenting on the Education Minister Kirsty Williams’ announcement today (Monday) regarding the Government’s policy statement ‘Stay Safe. Stay Learning: Continuity of Learning’, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union, said:
“We welcome the Welsh Government’s recognition of the need to take concerted national action to support children’s education whilst schools remain closed to the generality of pupils.
“Teachers have already worked phenomenally hard to provide continuity of care for vulnerable children and to children of key workers as part of the country’s COVID-19 emergency response, whilst also providing access to online learning for the majority of children who are not in schools.
“No more could be asked of teachers and it is essential that the Government ensures that all teachers have the tools, support and guarantees they need to continue to support children during the current crisis.
“However, a remote learning system needs to be centralised with the Welsh Government taking firm control and responsibility.
“We are concerned that the plans that the NASUWT has been made aware of for the implementation of ‘Continuity of Learning’ and the associated guidance that is presently under consultation shows far too much emphasis on schools building their own programmes of study from scratch.
“Teachers in Wales need more from the Welsh Government than generic guidance, they need comprehensive advice.
“We agree that there should be a ‘national and concerted effort… to create and share high quality programmes for distance learning’, but the Minister puts the emphasis on schools doing this.
“A vision of many schools all ‘reinventing the wheel’ is a vision of chaos.”
Neil Butler, NASUWT National Official for Wales, added:
“We very much welcome the close and effective working relationship that has developed between the Welsh Government and the education unions during this Covid-19 crisis.
“However, the Welsh Government needs to concentrate on the absolute priority of maintaining what teaching and learning can take place through distance learning, between teachers and learners unused to this experience.
“We welcome the emphasis that the Education Minister has put on professional learning for teachers to develop these skills, but we are concerned that this cannot be done quickly and efficiently enough under the present conditions.
“Moreover, the Minister is still putting an emphasis on new curriculum development. Frankly, teachers have other priorities and an already ambitious timetable for the new curriculum must now be reviewed."