Vale MP Alun Cairns has called on Estyn and the Welsh Government to help schools and teachers with greater clarification on how they should be managing the workload through the Coronavirus pandemic.
As the country has entered into lockdown, and schools remain closed beyond the planned two week Easter Holidays, worried parents of pupils in local schools have raised concerns that their children have not been tasked with keeping up with their work. In some cases, schools have opted to tell parents that learning is ‘something students themselves do’ and that it is an ‘opportunity for different students to be motivated to do different things compared with the highly structured school day’.
These parents have brought their concerns to the attention of Alun Cairns MP, explaining that ‘there is very little formal work to be set’. One even added, ‘isn't it amazing what a fuss is made when you take a holiday in term time if formal schooling is so easy to catch up on’.
Reading comments from parents, Mr Cairns recognises that there is disparity between the processes in different schools. He explained that while many teachers are going above and beyond to support pupils, there appear to be examples where children are not being set formal tasks to complete at home.
The Vale MP has subsequently written to the Welsh Government and Estyn, asking that they provide the support and clarification needed so that all schools are able to ensure that pupils can continue to learn while they are closed.
Mr Cairns said, “It’s absolutely vital, while we rightly continue to abide by the Government’s lockdown measures to prevent the spread of the virus, that all pupils continue to learn and benefit from structure to their education. This will ensure that they are best placed to continue when they return to schools. I know that many teachers in Barry and the Vale are going above and beyond for their pupils, so I recognise why some parents have concerns with the contrast in approach from different schools. I’ve raised the matter with the relevant authorities and I hope that, as a result, greater clarification can be provided and our teachers get the best support possible at this challenging time.”