The National Education Union Cymru, Wales’ largest teaching union, warns education will continue to be disrupted for some time and the curriculum, tests, exams and inspections must be adjusted to take account of that.
The new curriculum is due to be rolled out from next year.
“National Reading and Numeracy Personalised Assessments cannot go ahead as planned. They will have a negative impact on children’s wellbeing,” the NEU’s Education Recovery Plan warns.
Predicting continued disruption to education “until the population is vaccinated, and Covid infection rates are manageable ” the union said day to day running of schools and what they do need to change.
“A recovery plan is needed that focuses on what’s most important for learners over the next year.
“Schools must be encouraged to support students to learn what they need for their next stages of education, rather than to simply pass tests or exams.
“And pupils will also need to have more opportunities to revisit learning content that has been previously covered.”
A fully resourced national plan for children’s wellbeing should also be launched to support “those who suffered trauma in the pandemic”.
On new ways of running schools, the plan suggests fewer pupils and more staff with rotas for when children can attend.
Unused public buildings and marquees could also be used for lessons to help social distancing and ventilation.
The wide-ranging document also looks at social, economic and wellbeing issues as the world adjusts to Covid.
Making education compulsory to age 18 should also be considered to help address lack of opportunity for young people and free school meals should be extended to all families on Universal Credit.
Suggesting how schools should operate day to day the plan says: “If social distancing in education buildings is to become a reality, then fewer students must be on site.
“Rotas are a good means of allowing regular attendance for face-to-face teaching in schools and colleges whilst reducing overcrowding and enabling social distancing.
“It will be necessary to employ more staff for rotas to work effectively both to lower numbers of pupils in classrooms and maintain high quality remote education.”
Schools and colleges should be given increased funding to employ supply staff, newly-qualified teachers without posts, and support staff to meet the greatly increased workload involved in teaching some students in school and others remotely, it adds.
Estyn should not return to a full inspection programme while schools and colleges are working to reintegrate pupils, assess their needs and what they have learnt during lockdown.
In terms of helping children catch up on any lost learning, the union suggests increased school and college staffing budgets to employ additional qualified teaching staff to support individual and small group tuition for those who need it, when they return.
On the long-waited new curriculum for Wales, due to be rolled out from next year, the NEU is clear it should be delayed again.
“Children and young people will have had significant disruption over two years. Whilst NEU Cymru supports the principles behind the new Curriculum for Wales, now is not the time to rush, but to ensure schools have everything they need to make the new curriculum a success over the longer-term.
“Pupils will need to be taught what they require for their next stages of education, rather than to simply pass tests or exams. Schools are best placed to know what their pupils need, and Welsh Government should develop a transition phase, over at least the next year, with flexibility to disapply the curriculum as necessary in order to provide the depth and breadth of teaching and other support which pupils require.”
Summoning the spirit of wartime recovery the NEU says a “post war plan (is) needed”.
“In the same way the 1940s post-war UK Government drew on the model from Tredegar to produce the NHS, the Welsh Government needs to embrace the Bevan and Beveridge spirit, to ensure young people in Wales are supported.”
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk