Welsh education minister announces £72m funding ahead of wider school return

Education minister Kirsty Williams has announced an extra £72m funding for schools ahead of more pupils returning to the classroom from next week. Credit: Welsh Government

Wales' education minister has announced an extra £72m funding for schools ahead of more pupils returning to the classroom from next week.

Kirsty Williams said the funding would support teachers and learners through the pandemic by recruiting, recovering and raising standards.

The Welsh Government said it has now provided more than £112 million towards learning recovery during the Covid crisis.

Ms Williams said that the equivalent of 1,800 full time staff have so far been recruited - double the original target.

The funding will also be used to enable trainee teachers to complete their qualifications and move into full-time teaching.

It comes ahead of a vote on Wales' new school curriculum on Tuesday.

  • Watch the education minister's full announcement

Ms Williams said: "We all know it’s been a difficult period for learners and staff. Schools and colleges have done terrific work in ensuring learning has continued, while putting preparations in place so the return of learners is as smooth as possible.

"I know that extra help is needed, especially for learners at key stages in their academic careers and in their lives.

"As learners continue to go back to face-to-face learning, we are providing this additional funding to ensure support is in place when our young people return to the classroom."

Secondary school pupils are set to begin a phased return from Monday. Credit: ITV Wales

Last week, Ms Williams said some secondary pupils in Wales could be returning to schools to "check in" with teachers before the Easter break.

The plan would be in addition to the return to school for older primary pupils and older learners taking exams, including years 11 and 13 from March 15.

It will be subject to the Welsh Government's next three-week review, which is on Friday.

Foundation phase children in Wales aged between three and seven have been back in classrooms since February 22.

It is hoped all all pupils will be able to return after the Easter break.

On Monday, millions of schoolchildren in England returned to classrooms as part of the first step in easing lockdown there.

Ms Williams said a phased return in Wales is ''critically important'' to monitor the impact on coronavirus case levels.

She said: "Back in February, SAGE were very clear in their advice to governments that a phased return to school was critically important in being able to monitor the impact on the pandemic as we move forward. That's what we've been doing here in Wales.

"Thanks to the hard work of the Welsh public we were able to announce last week that we could go further than we'd initially hoped for, therefore allowing check-ins for our younger secondary school pupils."