As I’m sure you will be aware, Welsh Government today announced that schools in Wales will now remain closed for face to face learning until January 29th at the earliest for most learners. They intend to review the situation every three weeks. Of course, as I said in my last letter to you this is not unexpected given the current coronavirus situation in Wales and the rest of the UK.
We will continue to provide a combination of online blended learning, paper learning packs and in-school provision for a small number of learners. As I communicated to school staff a little while ago, all we can do for now is ensure that we continue to do the very best we can for our learners via our blended learning provision and to support learners and their families wherever possible. This extended blended learning period also gives us time to continue to develop and refine our online teaching skills, in the same way as it does for our learners to develop their online learning skills. I believe it’s always important to identify the positives amongst the challenges we face.
I would like to thank all parents and carers for doing their utmost to support and encourage their children with their home learning. I know how difficult this can be, especially with the other commitments you are all trying to juggle. However, the longer children are out of school and not engaging in home learning, the bigger the gap that is growing between them and those learners who are doing their best to work at home, whether online or with paper packs.
On that note, we continue to be acutely aware that a significant number of our learners do not have access to the internet or do not have a suitable device to undertake school work with. We are continuing to work on measures to address this and we are optimistic of being able to contact more of our digitally disadvantaged learners next week with some positive information about this. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Newport Uskmouth Rotary, who have been donating digital devices to us (and other Newport schools) to help us to address this issue. Their generosity is very much appreciated.
With regards to the awarding of qualifications and exams this year, it has been announced that the spring internal assessment window for GCSE, AS and A levels (planned to take place between 22nd February and 23rd April) will not now take place and that new arrangements will be made. I will update you as soon as any further information becomes available and have attached a letter to learners from Qualifications Wales that you may find helpful.
Of course, as we get further information about what is happening after the 29th January I will contact you again. In the meantime, I hope that you and your family stay safe. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any support with home learning or if there is any other matter you think we may be able to assist you with.