Ceredigion latest to announce schools will only open for three weeks

Children at school. Picture by Lucélia Ribeiro (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ceredigion has become the latest council to confirm that schools will not open for the extra fourth week in July.

The council joins Wrexham, Cardiff, Newport, Monmouthshire, Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent have now said their schools will finish on the original end of term 17 July date, three weeks after reopening on 29th June.

Pupils on Anglesey are now not expected to return to school at all before the summer as the council copes with a coronavirus outbreak on the island.

At a press conference today the First Minister Mark Drakeford was asked whether the Welsh Government should have taken responsibility for scrapping the fourth week after failing to come to an agreement with teaching unions.

Mark Drakeford said that it was right that decisions were taken locally but that he would have liked to have seen a fourth week of the school term.

There were concerns by local authorities that some school staff such as cleaners, cooks, lunchtime supervisors and facilities staff wouldn’t be available during the week that usually coincides with the summer holidays, as their contracts only cover standard term times.

So far only Conwy Council has announced that schools will return for the full four weeks. Some councils have not yet commented.

 

‘Voluntary’

In a statement sent by Ceredigion County Council Education Department to schools they said that there had been overwhelming support by school staff in Ceredigion to welcome pupils gradually back to school from the 29th June onwards.

“However, schools in Ceredigion will not open for the period 20th-24th July as originally stated by the Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education,” they said.

“The week 20th-24th July is now been called by Welsh Government a ‘fourth voluntary week’.

“Ceredigion Council and all our schools are very disappointed that we are not in a position to open for the fourth week as originally stated. This is due to the fact that Welsh Government had not been able to secure an agreement with Trade Unions on the extension of the school term.

“Due to this, key staff in schools would be working at odds with their employment contract during the fourth voluntary week.

“Many staff are already not able to attend schools sites for valid medical reasons, and the additional week could lead to some schools being short of staff, and possibly unable to open at all. Ceredigion schools will therefore close to pupils on the date originally intended to be the end of the summer term, the 17th July.

“In the meantime, all Ceredigion schools are continuing to prepare digital learning experiences for pupils and are getting school buildings ready to welcome the return of some pupils on the 29th June.

“As a Council, we would wish to sincerely thank our school staff and you as parents and carers for your invaluable support during this period.”

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