All age groups to return to school at the end of June in small groups and staggered starts

Credit: PA

All schools in Wales will return at the end of June, with the term being extended for an extra week, the Education Minister has announced.

Schools in Wales have been closed since the outbreak of coronavirus in March. However, some schools have been open throughout the lockdown for the children of key workers.

The Education Minister said this gives schools three and a half weeks to ''continue preparing for the next phase.''

“We will use the last weeks of the summer term to make sure pupils, staff and parents are prepared – mentally, emotionally and practically – for the new normal in September."

School changes:

  • All age groups will return to school on 29 June

  • The term will be extended until 27 July

  • There will be a phased approach, with year groups being split into groups with staggered starts, lessons and breaks

  • There will be no more than a third of pupils present at any one time

  • Smaller classes which will consist of online and classroom based teaching.

The changes are in the hope that it will allow children and teachers to be ''ready for a similar experience'' when schools open for a new academic year in September.

The Education Minister said waiting until September would mean almost half a year without schooling, which would be detrimental to the ''wellbeing, learning progress and mental health of our young people.''

However, a teachers' union has strongly criticised the decision to reopen all schools in Wales on June 29th, claiming it is "risking lives".

Neil Butler, NASUWT National Official for Wales, said: “Allowing all pupils the opportunity for contact time at their schools is the most dangerous option in terms of virus transmission.

Credit: PA

Further Education changes:

  • Colleges are ''taking appropriate measures'' to re-open for face-to-face learning from 15 June

  • Students requiring licence to practice assessments and vulnerable learners will be prioritised.

Parents will not be fined if they choose not to send their children into school at the end of the month. The Welsh Government said it will ''respect parent's decisions''.

Next week, the Welsh Government is due to publish operational guidance to support schools and further and higher education, which will include information on managing their facilities: including buildings, resources, cleaning and transport.

Guidance for childcare providers will also be published next week.

Teachers will be a priority group in the Welsh Government's new antibody-testing programme. An approach it says is ''critical'' to keep Wales safe as schools reopen.

  • Watch the full briefing below: