Coronavirus - Education

Schools across the country have closed and schools and childcare should only be open to a limited number of children of those who have been identified as "key workers.

We must keep the number of children in educational, childcare and play settings to the smallest number possible.

We also need to make sure children are not left with anyone who should be following strict social distancing guidance, such as anyone over 70 or anyone with the specified underlying health conditions.

Keeping children safely in their home should limit the chance of the virus spreading and protect those vulnerable to more serious illness as a result of the virus.

If your child receives free school meals, this will continue. But the way your child gets this food depends on your school. Please check with them.

 

What is the latest advice on key workers?

list of categories of critical workers has been published on the Welsh Government website.

Places in schools and childcare will be highly limited and only particularly vulnerable children and the children of critical workers whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response should be attending during this time.

If you are classed as a critical worker but are able to perform the critical parts of your job effectively when working from home, then you should do so.

Even for critical workers, provision will only be made in schools or other settings where there is no safe alternative for your family.

If one parent is a critical worker but the other parent is not then the other parent should provide safe alternative arrangements at home when possible.

Local authorities are doing everything they can to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. They made and communicated plans based as part of an initial contingency to deal with the spread of coronavirus. Those plans will now adapt and change as they respond to the latest guidance available to the Welsh Government. For the very latest advice, please visit www.powys.gov.uk

 

Examinations

The Welsh Government Minister for Education has decided that Year 10 and 12 students who were due to sit exams this summer will not be required to sit these exams at a later date.

The Minister’s decision was based on detailed consideration of the options available and advice from Qualifications Wales and the Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC)

 

AS levels

In Wales, as well as being stand-alone qualifications, AS levels also contribute to A level qualifications. AS units are usually taken in Year 12, with A2 units taken in Year 13.

This year’s AS learners will still receive an AS grade. However, it will be calculated using a range of evidence, including teacher assessed grades.

In summer 2021, current AS learners will have two options for their A level award. They will choose whether to:

  • only sit the A2 units, with the A level grade based on their performance in the A2 units;
  • or sit both the AS and A2 units. They will be awarded the best grade from either route.

 

Year 10

Year 10 learners who were due to sit exams that would have led to a GCSE this summer will be issued a grade in the same way as those in Year 11. The grade will be based on evidence including teacher assessments during the academic year to date.

Those who were due to sit units that will lead to GCSE results next summer will not receive a unit result. Instead, those learners will have two choices, to either:  

  • sit only the units they plan to take in summer 2021, with their GCSE grade based on that performance only;
  • or sit the Year 10 units in summer 2021, along with the Year 11 units. They will be awarded the best grade from either route.

 

Higher Education

Some students will still be in their term-time accommodation and may be feeling especially vulnerable. Students who remain at university should, of course, be observing current Government restrictions on travel and outdoor activity.

Universities in Wales have carried out a range of activities aimed at supporting students’ mental health and wellbeing, supported by funding that the Welsh Government have made available through HEFCW. The decision by some institutions to waive some or all accommodation costs is a welcome one.

Welsh Government officials are reviewing all student support policies and are working with other Welsh Government departments, the other UK governments, key stakeholders, and the Student Loans Company (SLC), to ensure that students and institutions are properly supported during this time

The Welsh Government has written to UCAS to express concern about the potential risks associated with an increase in unconditional offers from higher education institutions to prospective students as a result of the current coronavirus outbreak.

Welsh learners who were due to sit their A level examinations this summer will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work, drawing on a range of available information, including students’ outcomes at AS level. Therefore, there is no reason for the usual admissions cycle to be disrupted or for universities to begin making their offers unconditional.

 

Higher Education - Tuition Fees

A number of students have contacted me calling for clarity on university fees in Wales. I and my colleagues are calling for a partial refund on this year’s tuition fees and free tuition for any course extension.

Currently, universities in Wales can charge up to £9,000 per year but due to Covid-19, many students are receiving their tuition online. However, many degrees require practical assignments which are not possible at this time.

Where possible, students should able to graduate in the same timeline that they had planned and be able to afford any extension to their course.

Many students would be using the Easter break to work, to earn money to be able to afford to continue studying or to save towards a post graduate course. That isn’t possible right now with many of the service sectors closed and health concerns preventing students form finding new employment.

The right thing to do would be to give students a partial refund to their tuition fees this year - especially on courses with a strong element of supervised study - to review financial support for the next academic year for students who have been directly impacted by Covid-19 and especially to any student who might have to spend more on tuition fees due to having their course extended.