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Meeting with Kirsty Williams and latest Welsh guidance from NAHT Cymru

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A message to members from Laura Doel, NAHT Cymru director and Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary

Following the concerns you have raised around the Covid-19 childcare response in Wales, NAHT has spoken to the Welsh government directly yesterday.

The issues discussed with the Minister for Education Kirsty Williams AM and her officials ranged from certain local authorities expanding the definition of key workers, imposing hub models against the professional views of school leaders on the ground, implementing centralised bureaucratic systems and proposing extended provision without any strategic planning or apparent need.

We were reassured on a number of issues, including a collaborative approach to producing hub best practice guidance for LAs, as well as an acknowledgement that the safety and well-being of staff and children is paramount in any changes that are being made to the childcare provision. The Welsh government was very clear that officials wanted to know of specific examples of where the union believes provision is not working and where unmanageable numbers of children are attending them. The Welsh government is working with LAs and the WLGA to make sure there is a clear and regular dialogue happening with education professionals on managing this ongoing situation.

We are still pushing for clarification on the responsibility of the childcare provision, whether that is in individual schools or a hub setting as we believe the responsibility is not one that should fall solely on school leaders. Where schools have set up arrangements that are working well for them and their communities, they should not be forced to abandon these for a ‘hub’ model. NAHT recognises that some schools may decide to enter into a ‘partnership’ with another local school/schools to ensure that provision can continue to be offered. For some schools, such as very small schools, this may be the only option available to deliver the reduced provision. However, we have a number of concerns about the use of large-scale, centralised hubs where large numbers of pupils and staff are gathered in one space. Our primary concern is that such an approach appears to not be in line with the government's advice on social distancing. Concentrating a higher number of pupils and staff in a single space, and creating a need for greater travelling for children, parents and staff does not appear consistent with the government’s overarching approach.

Clearly, schools should continue to engage with their local authority and discuss long-term contingency planning should school closure continue for some months, and should local offers start to become unsustainable due to staffing shortages.

We were reassured that officials from Wales government were committed to working on developing guidance in collaboration with NAHT, the other school workforce unions, as well as LAs and the WLGA, and further updates will be issued on a regular basis.

NAHT reaffirmed to the Minister that as a profession, we will do all we can to support the national effort, but we need also to do it in a way that is safe and measured and has the well-being of pupils, staff and their families at the heart of its response.  While many local authorities across Wales have been developing policy and guidance on keeping schools open in conjunction with school leaders, some have not.  

NAHT Cymru has produced its own guidance in consultation with NEU, ASCL and UCAC, and you can find it here.

We would ask that you keep NAHT informed of any concerns or developments by emailing laura.doel@naht.org.uk.

 



Yn dilyn y pryderon rydych chi wedi'u codi ynghylch yr ymateb i ofynion gofal plant yng Nghymru yn sgil Covid-19, mae NAHT wedi siarad â Llywodraeth Cymru yn uniongyrchol ddoe. 

Roedd y materion a drafodwyd gyda'r Gweinidog Addysg, Kirsty Williams AC a'i swyddogion yn amrywio o rai awdurdodau lleol yn ehangu'r diffiniad o weithwyr allweddol, gosod modelau ar gyfer hybiau yn groes i farn broffesiynol arweinwyr ysgolion ar lawr gwlad, gweithredu systemau biwrocrataidd canolog a chynnig darpariaeth estynedig heb unrhyw gynllunio strategol nac angen hyd y gwelwn. 

Cawsom ein sicrhau ynghylch nifer o faterion, gan gynnwys dull cydweithredol o fynd ati i lunio canllawiau arfer gorau ar gyfer cynnal hyb i ALlau, yn ogystal â chydnabyddiaeth mai diogelwch a llesiant staff a phlant sydd bwysicaf mewn unrhyw newidiadau sy'n cael eu gwneud i'r ddarpariaeth ar gyfer gofal plant.  Roedd Llywodraeth Cymru yn glir iawn bod swyddogion eisiau gwybod am enghreifftiau penodol o ble mae'r undeb yn credu nad yw'r ddarpariaeth yn gweithio a lle mae mwy o blant na ellir eu rheoli yn mynychu’r canolfannau hynny.  Mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn gweithio gydag ALlau a Chymdeithas Awdurdodau Lleol Cymru (CALlC) i sicrhau bod yna ddeialog glir a rheolaidd yn digwydd  gyda gweithwyr proffesiynol ym maes addysg ar gyfer rheoli'r sefyllfa barhaus hon .

Rydym yn dal i wthio am eglurhad o ran y cyfrifoldeb am y ddarpariaeth ar gyfer gofal plant, p'un a yw hynny mewn ysgolion unigol neu dan drefniant hyb, gan ein bod yn credu nad yw'r cyfrifoldeb yn un a ddylai ddisgyn ar arweinwyr ysgolion yn unig. Lle mae ysgolion wedi sefydlu trefniadau sy'n gweithio'n dda iddyn nhw a'u cymunedau, ni ddylid eu gorfodi i roi'r gorau i'r rhain er mwyn dilyn model 'hyb'. Mae NAHT yn cydnabod y gallai rhai ysgolion benderfynu sefydlu 'partneriaeth' gydag ysgol / ysgolion lleol eraill i sicrhau y gellir parhau i gynnig y ddarpariaeth hon. I rai ysgolion, fel ysgolion bach iawn, mae’n bosib mai dyma'r unig opsiwn sydd ar gael i barhau i gynnig y ddarpariaeth lai. Fodd bynnag, mae gennym nifer o bryderon ynghylch defnyddio hybiau canolog ar raddfa fawr ble mae nifer uchel o ddisgyblion a staff yn casglu ynghyd mewn un man. Ein prif bryder yw ei bod yn ymddangos nad yw dull o'r fath yn cydymffurfio â chyngor y llywodraeth ar bellhau cymdeithasol. Nid yw casglu nifer fawr o ddisgyblion a staff mewn un man, a chreu’r angen i blant, rhieni a staff deithio ymhellach, yn ymddangos yn gyson ag amcanion cyffredinol y llywodraeth.

Wrth reswm, dylai ysgolion barhau i ymgysylltu â'u hawdurdod lleol a thrafod cynlluniau hir-dymor pe bai angen cau ysgolion am rai misoedd, a phe bai’r hyn sy’n cael ei gynnig yn lleol yn dechrau dod yn anghynaladwy oherwydd prinder staff.

Cawsom sicrwydd bod swyddogion o lywodraeth Cymru wedi ymrwymo i weithio ar ddatblygu canllawiau ar y cyd â NAHT, yr undebau eraill sy’n cynrychioli gweithlu ysgolion, yn ogystal ag ALlau a CALlC, a chaiff diweddariadau pellach eu cyhoeddi’n rheolaidd.

Rhoddwyd sicrhad gan NAHT i’r Gweinidog y byddwn ni fel proffesiwn, yn gwneud popeth o fewn ein gallu i gefnogi'r ymdrech genedlaethol, ond mae angen i ni hefyd wneud hynny mewn ffordd sy'n ddiogel a phwyllog, ac sy’n rhoi’r sylw pennaf i lesiant disgyblion, staff a'u teuluoedd.  Er bod llawer o awdurdodau lleol ledled Cymru wedi bod yn datblygu polisi ac arweiniad ar gadw ysgolion ar agor ar y cyd ag arweinwyr ysgolion, nid felly pob un ohonynt.  

Mae NAHT Cymru wedi llunio eu canllawiau eu hunain mewn ymgynghoriad â NEU, ASCL ac UCAC, ac maent i'w gweld yma.

Rydym yn gofyn i chi roi gwybod i NAHT am unrhyw bryderon neu ddatblygiadau drwy e-bostio laura.doel@naht.org.uk.


First published 02 April 2020