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Welsh Conservatives want ex-teachers to return to classrooms to fill Omicron sickness vacancies

31 Dec 2021 4 minutes Read
Teacher wearing a face mask. Photo by Alexandra Koch from Pixabay

The Welsh Conservatives have called on the Welsh Government to follow England and invite ex-teachers to return to classrooms to help fill sickness vacancies caused by the Omicron variant.

The UK Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi MP asked former teachers who have the skills and time to return to the classroom to sign up for a return earlier this month.

The Omicron variant is expected to continue to cause increased staff absence levels in the spring term, he said.

Today the Welsh Conservative shadow education spokesperson Laura Anne Jones called for the Welsh Government to take the same step.

The Senedd Member said that those who are recently retired, or trained as a teacher and moved career, should be asked to consider whether they can find even a day a week for the spring term to help protect face-to-face education, providing they pass the standard comprehensive background checks.

“Teachers have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic, doing an inspirational job to support their pupils and communities in the face of adversity,” Laura Anne Jones said.

“However, the disruption to school life and extended periods at home mean pupils’ education has inevitably suffered, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“With cases of Omicron increasing across the country we must make sure schools and colleges have the teachers available to remain open for face-to-face education.

“We have to be prepared for the new term ahead, otherwise our children will again feel the brunt. A ‘call to arms’ such as we’ve seen from Nadhim Zahawi and the Conservatives is a great idea and one we should replicate in Wales.

“I hope the Labour Government gets such a scheme up and running so we can increase support in the classroom and minimise disruption to our children’s education.”

‘Face-to-face’

The Welsh Government have not yet announced any changes to how schools will run in January, saying that measures implemented in November will be kept under review.

That means that advice to all staff and secondary-aged learners to use face coverings in communal areas and classrooms where physical distancing cannot be maintained will remain in place for the return in January.

They have also told schools to set aside two planning days at the start of the spring term will enable schools to assess staffing capacity and put the necessary measures in place to support the return of all learners.

“What we learn about the Omicron variant over coming weeks may require interventions for the higher risk levels as set out in our Local Decision Framework,” the Welsh Government said in updated guidance on 16 December.

“As a precautionary approach, we advise schools to plan mitigations for the return based on the ‘very high’ risk level as set out in the Framework.”

The UK Government meanwhile said they were using targeted communications across a range of government and social media to encourage those eligible to apply to return to teaching.

UK Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “It has been my absolute priority since day one in the role to do everything in my power to protect education – which is why today I am asking any teachers no longer in the profession to come forward if they are available to temporarily fill absences in the new year.

“Although 99.9% of schools have consistently been open this term, with cases of Omicron increasing we must make sure schools and colleges have the teachers available to remain open for face-to-face education.

“Anyone who thinks they can help should get the process started now on the Get Into Teaching website, and everyone should get boosted now to help reduce the amount of disruption from the virus in the new year.”

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Devo
Devo
19 days ago

Since education is entirely devolved, should we not refer to England’s education minister, rather than, confusingly, the UK’s?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
19 days ago

Again the useless antagonistic Welsh Conservatives call for Wales to copy & paste English policies forgetting any School teacher shortages are down to the spread Covid variants thanks to their confusing hypocritical contradictory messaging their farcical party in government in London are relaying via the network TV & printed media. And as mentioned recently. The Tories pandering to the extremist ERG with their idiotic New Year’s Eve pandemic party celebrations, which are similar to their eat out for £10 and VE Day street party’s that occured against virologist advice during the height of the 1st wave of Covid that was… Read more »

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
19 days ago

There is no such thing as a UK Education Minister.Plus more “be Inglish” BS from the “Welsh” Conservatives

Marc Davies
Marc Davies
19 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

Nation Cymru should stop using this UK title when discussing the position of people like Nadhim Zahawi, who, as you rightly point out is the English Education Secretary.

Ann
Ann
19 days ago

And they haven’t thought through the ramifications of additional DBS checks and re-registration for those former teachers who no longer have valid registration. The majority of them left the profession because of the increasing pressures they were being put under by said English Government!

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
19 days ago

The Irony! After years of kicking teachers the Tories are now begging for help!

Last edited 19 days ago by Mr Williams
Phil
Phil
19 days ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Perhaps the Welsh Tories could tempt teachers back with an offer of all the pay increases that they were denied over the past ten or eleven years.

Twm Teth
19 days ago

Retired nurses invited back to cover in this pandemic
Retired teachers asked the same, To me in the situation we are in regardless of the who’s responsible for the underfunding and the cutbacks to our services this seems a good Idea. More help in the education of our youth can only be a positive thing.

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