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NAHT Cymru - coronavirus update to members sent on 18 March 2020

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A message from NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman and NAHT Cymru director Laura Doel. 


As I am sure you are aware by now, education minister Kirsty Williams announced at lunchtime today that schools will close for statutory education on Friday. The announcement follows two days of talks between the unions and the Welsh government on the burden being placed on school leaders to keep schools open.

I called for the minister to display leadership during this time of national crisis, I relayed the numerous concerns you as members have shared with NAHT Cymru and she has answered our call to take charge of the situation.

Although we welcome this move, there still remained many unanswered questions.

I spoke to the minister this evening to discuss her statement and your concerns, and she provided the following responses.

School closures

Schools will be closed for the foreseeable future, and she doubts that children will be back into school in the summer term.

Re-purposed schools

Schools are going to be re-purposed to provide support for the children of key workers.  

The Welsh government will issue a list of the key workers – this list will change depending on the situation around the country if we see issues develop with distribution, food supplies etc.

Local authorities (LAs) are working with the Welsh government to provide lists of school staff who are available to work, ie fit and well enough to do so. LAs will also provide a list of other people who will be able to support re-purposed schools, ie youth workers.

Homeworking/curriculum

All statutory curriculum is being suspended for the foreseeable future; however, that does not mean that children don’t learn from home. This contact should be maintained and the packs and hwb working that have already been planned by schools should be sent out to children.  

Staff who are fit and well to do so will be expected to be available for work during the additional two weeks holiday. There will also be a need to call on staff to volunteer to help support the repurposed schools during school holidays such as Easter and half term.

Vulnerable children/pupils eligible for free school meals

There will be an emergency provision in place from Monday for two weeks to support children who are entitled to free school meals or who have safeguarding issues. That provision will be temporary until a more sustainable long-term solution can be arranged.

Accountability

All accountability and performance measures are to be suspended. There will be no inspections, no assessments and no moderation throughout the summer term.

Exams

Exams are to be suspended in the summer term. Staff will be asked to help submit work of pupils so that grades can be awarded based on their work thus far. More details on this will follow.

During the conversation, the minister was very clear: this is a time of national emergency, and she is calling for school leaders to help.

She understands your frustration, and although those frustrations may continue over the next few weeks until a more sustainable plan is established, she has asked for your support.

I will continue to work with the Welsh government to make sure your concerns are listened to and we have a seat at the table when it comes to how we can support key workers during this national crisis.

You have all stepped up in this time of unprecedented uncertainty and we know you wish to continue to support your children and their families. 

This is not a case of school leaders seeking to duck their civic responsibility, if anything, this situation has demonstrated the importance of schools and the resilience of the teaching profession as a whole.


Fel rwy’n siŵr eich bod yn ymwybodol erbyn hyn, cyhoeddodd y gweinidog addysg, Kirsty Williams amser cinio heddiw y bydd ysgolion yn cau ar gyfer addysg statudol ddydd Gwener. Daw’r cyhoeddiad yn dilyn dau ddiwrnod o drafodaethau rhwng yr undebau a Llywodraeth Cymru ynghylch y pwysedd sy’n cael ei osod ar arweinwyr ysgolion i gadw ysgolion ar agor.

Galwais ar i’r gweinidog ddangos arweinyddiaeth yn ystod yr amser hwn o argyfwng cenedlaethol; mynegais y pryderon niferus yr ydych chi fel aelodau wedi’u rhannu â NAHT Cymru, ac mae hi wedi ateb ein galwad i gymryd cyfrifoldeb dros y sefyllfa.

Er ein bod yn croesawu'r cam hwn, mae llawer o gwestiynau heb eu hateb o hyd.

Siaradais â'r gweinidog heno i drafod ei datganiad a'ch pryderon, ac fe ddarparodd yr ymatebion canlynol.

Cau ysgolion

Bydd ysgolion ar gau hyd y gellir rhagweld ac mae hi'n amau y bydd plant yn ôl yn yr ysgol yn nhymor yr haf.

Ail-bwrpasu ysgolion

Bydd ysgolion yn cael eu hail-bwrpasu i ddarparu cymorth i blant gweithwyr allweddol. 

Bydd Llywodraeth Cymru yn cyhoeddi rhestr o’r gweithwyr allweddol - bydd y rhestr hon yn newid gan ddibynnu ar y sefyllfa ledled y wlad os gwelwn anawsterau’n datblygu gyda dosbarthu a chyflenwadau bwyd a.y.b.

Mae awdurdodau lleol (ALlau) yn gweithio gyda Llywodraeth Cymru i ddarparu rhestrau o staff ysgolion sydd ar gael i weithio, h.y. yn ddigon iach i wneud hynny. Bydd ALlau hefyd yn darparu rhestr o bobl eraill a fydd yn gallu cynorthwyo mewn ysgolion sydd wedi'u hail-bwrpasu, e.e. gweithwyr ieuenctid.

Gweithio gartref / cwricwlwm

Mae'r holl gwricwlwm statudol yn cael ei atal hyd y gellir rhagweld; fodd bynnag, nid yw hynny'n golygu na fydd plant yn dysgu gartref. Dylid cynnal y cyswllt hwn a dylid anfon y pecynnau sydd eisoes wedi'u cynllunio gan ysgolion allan i’r plant.

Disgwylir i staff sy'n ddigon iach i wneud hynny fod ar gael i weithio yn ystod y pythefnos ychwanegol o wyliau. Bydd hefyd angen galw ar staff i wirfoddoli i helpu mewn ysgolion sydd wedi'u hail-bwrpasu yn ystod gwyliau ysgol fel y Pasg a hanner tymor.

Plant / disgyblion bregus sy'n gymwys i gael prydau ysgol am ddim

Bydd darpariaeth frys ar waith o ddydd Llun am bythefnos i gynorthwyo plant sydd â hawl i brydau ysgol am ddim neu sydd â phroblemau diogelu. Darpariaeth dros-dro fydd honno nes y gellir trefnu datrysiad hir-dymor mwy cynaliadwy.

Atebolrwydd

Mae'r holl fesurau atebolrwydd a pherfformiad i'w hatal. Ni fydd unrhyw arolygiadau, asesiadau na chymedroli drwy gydol tymor yr haf.

Arholiadau

Bydd arholiadau yn cael eu hatal yn nhymor yr haf. Gofynnir i staff helpu â chyflwyno gwaith disgyblion fel y gellir dyfarnu graddau yn seiliedig ar eu gwaith hyd yn hyn. Bydd mwy o fanylion am hyn yn dilyn.

Yn ystod y sgwrs roedd y gweinidog yn glir iawn - mae hwn yn gyfnod o argyfwng cenedlaethol ac mae hi'n galw ar arweinwyr ysgolion i helpu.

Mae hi'n deall eich rhwystredigaeth ac er y gall y rhwystredigaethau hynny barhau dros yr wythnosau nesaf hyd nes gellir sefydlu cynllun mwy cynaliadwy, mae hi wedi gofyn am eich cefnogaeth.

Byddaf yn parhau i weithio gyda Llywodraeth Cymru i sicrhau bod rhywun yn gwrando ar eich pryderon a bod gennym sedd wrth y bwrdd o ran sut y gallwn ni gefnogi gweithwyr allweddol yn ystod yr argyfwng cenedlaethol hwn.

Rydych chi i gyd wedi camu i'r adwy yn ystod y cyfnod hwn o ansicrwydd na welwyd erioed mo'i debyg, ac rydym yn gwybod y byddwch chi am barhau i gynnig cymorth i'ch plant a'u teuluoedd. 

Nid achos o arweinwyr ysgolion sy'n ceisio osgoi eu cyfrifoldeb cymdeithasol yw hwn; os rhywbeth mae'r sefyllfa hon wedi dangos pwysigrwydd ysgolion a gwytnwch y proffesiwn addysgu yn ei gyfanrwydd.

First published 20 March 2020