At the end of term I want to thank you for your continued hard work and commitment during what I know has been an extremely challenging term.
Our collective priority continues to be to minimise the disruption to education, and ensure where possible learners continue to receive in person learning, as well as protecting school staff and learners.
But as someone who’s married to a primary school teacher I know only too well how difficult this term has been. In her view, this is the most challenging time the teaching workforce has faced in decades. In both a professional and personal capacity I agree with her assessment. I do hope you’ll have time over the next few weeks to rest, relax but also reflect on the incredible work you’ve done during 2021.
I re-joined Welsh Government as Director for Education and Welsh Language at the end of June 2021. It’s been a privilege to witness the way in which you’ve reacted and adapted to an evolving situation and the continued uncertainty. I can assure you that regular and ongoing discussions with the teaching workforce continue to highlight the extreme pressures you’re facing and the need for us to create space and reduce bureaucracy wherever possible.
While my role is to advise and support the Welsh Government to deliver its agenda, I also take seriously my responsibility to engage with the education sector in Wales and to listen to your ideas and concerns. There will continue to be a range of opportunities in 2022 for us to engage and I do feel that the pandemic has led to closer interaction between Welsh Government, schools, local authorities, regional consortia, Estyn and other partners. But there is always room for improvement and we remain open to suggestions as to how we reduce bureaucracy and create space.
Unfortunately, none of us have a crystal ball as to what 2022 might bring. Given current levels of uncertainty regarding the impact of Omicron, we’ve tried to provide schools with as much clarity now as we can, to enable you to plan and prepare for the return in January. However, this is a fast evolving situation and we will be working closely with your Directors of Education to consider any necessary adjustments to mitigations at the start of the January 2022 term.
I hope you have a peaceful and restful Christmas break. Covid permitting, I’m looking forward to visiting some of your wonderful schools in 2022.
p.s. As a member of a choir myself, it always thrills me to hear young voices celebrating Christmas. Here’s Ysgol Dewi Sant who’ve kindly agreed to let me share their video. Many thanks!