Plaid Cymru has launched its Education Recovery Plan, as it emerged that children in Wales have lost an estimated half a year of learning during the pandemic.
Speaking at Plaid Cymru’s Spring Conference, Shadow Education Minister Siân Gwenllian MS outlined her plans to help all children, young people and schools recover after COVID-19
Children in more disadvantaged areas have lost the most learning. Disadvantaged areas have seen higher infection rates resulting in higher school absence rates, and these children are less likely to be able to access remote learning due to inadequate access to appropriate digital devices. A Senedd Committee recently heard evidence that schools in the most disadvantaged areas had the fewest log-ins to online learning portals.
The Plaid Cymru Education Recovery plan would:
- Support schools and pupils to deal with the aftermath of COVID-19 by investing in teachers and increasing one-to-one and small group working;
- Establish a two-year national Teacher Volunteer Scheme, aimed at retired teachers and other education professionals;
- Engage artistic practitioners to help pupils express their COVID-19 experiences creatively;
- Suspend Estyn school inspections for a year and remove unnecessary bureaucracy.
The Shadow Minister for Education explained that her plan centred around the need to support teachers to lead on the education recovery, through a National Effort to increase the available workforce.
A recent report showed that Wales spends far less on education recovery than Scotland - eighty-eight pounds per pupil in Wales compared with two hundred pounds per pupil in Scotland.
Ms Gwenllian says that children are “our future” but were at risk of being “punished” by a lack of ambition from the Labour Welsh Government.
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Education, Sian Gwenllian MS said,
“Children and young people have lost half a year of face-to-face learning. Where is the plan from Welsh Government to help support them as they recover from the impacts of the pandemic?
“Plaid Cymru would implement a dynamic education recovery plan immediately after the May Election. As the Education Minister in a Plaid Cymru Government, I would work with the teaching sector to support schools with a Great National Effort to attract more staff including those who have retired back into the classroom.
“The aim would be to create an additional workforce of education professionals as well as volunteers who would be available to headteachers to help them give attention to pupils on a one-to-one basis and in small groups.
“The Education Recovery Plan would kick start the journey of putting the children and young people of Wales at the centre of everything our country's Government is doing. It would be part of a programme to invest more in schools and teaching. It would embark on a vital project to create an education system that would once again be admired around the world – and more importantly, a first step towards fair play for ALL children and young people, whatever their circumstances.
“Children are our future – and yet their past has been blighted by ten years of underinvestment from Labour Welsh Government.
“Without a plan from Welsh Government, there is really just one choice at the ballot box in May if you want to give our children the best start in life. A vote for Plaid Cymru is a vote for our children and a vote for the future of Wales.”