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Commissioner responds to latest lockdown annoucement

“Our consultation of nearly 24000 children and young people during the first national lockdown highlighted that school closures disadvantaged some children and young people more than others. Closing school and college buildings should always be the last resort.

“I acknowledge and welcome the First Minister’s determination to place children and their education as a priority, and welcome the news that primary and special schools, childcare establishments and certain secondary year groups can return.

“But I think it places unreasonable pressure on children and education establishments to ensure sufficient plans are in place for those who’ll be restricted from returning after half term, in just four working days. They’ve all faced tremendous pressure over recent months and without having seen clear public health evidence for not allowing all year groups to return, and details of how every child across Wales will have access to an equitable education offer during the week’s closure, I cannot defend this decision.

“Young people in years 9 and over, who may already have faced significant disruptions this term due to the need to self-isolate, must receive clarity from the Welsh Government with urgency about why this decision has been taken and how their right to education will be upheld. Those in exam years will also need urgent reassurance that despite the ongoing disruptions, they will receive fair treatment when being assessed this year.”