Commenting on the plan for Year 7, 8 and 9 pupils to return to schools in Wales for ‘wellbeing catch-up sessions’, Eithne Hughes, Director of ASCL Cymru, said:
“The direction of travel for pupils returning to secondary schools across Wales has been crystal clear for several weeks and they are all now working hard to ensure they are ready on 15 March to welcome back those who should be preparing for exams this summer. Extending that out to allow schools to also welcome back pupils in Years 10 and 12 on 15 March if they had the capacity to do so risked confusing matters but schools have taken this on board without complaint.
“The principle of bringing back children in years 7 to 9 for a few hours to check that they are well both physically and mentally and looking forward to returning to school after the Easter holiday is a great one. What isn’t so great is the idea that they should do so along with hundreds of other older pupils on the same day, adding more strain to an already strained system.
“Parents with youngsters in Years 7 to 9 will also be left pondering the practicalities for 15 March, not knowing whether their child has to be in school for just a few hours or half a day, with all the associated logistical issues around getting them there and back home again. For those in rural areas without reliable and regular public transport this could cause a major issue in itself.
“In comparison to colleagues elsewhere in the UK, teachers across Wales have been given the opportunity to plan for the return of their pupils. Well-meant as these catch-up sessions are, the announcement today will take teachers completely by surprise and, with just eight days to prepare, we risk a previously well-planned and communicated return to school descending into chaotic scenes come 15 March.”