Welsh Government update on residential visits etc.

Further to Wednesday’s announcement that school residentials would be permitted in Wales from Sat 17 July, here are some further details c/o AHOEC and OEAP:

“Please find below a quick summary of the AHOEC/OEAP meeting with the WG education team from yesterday.

“The current situation (allowing primary school visits) has been positively received with the sector demonstrating its ability to operate safely and deliver educational aims to school groups visiting residential centres, and some day visits have been converted to residential stays since the rules changed. 

“The first minister announced yesterday in the Senedd, that Wales would be moving to a national full level 1 as of Saturday (17th July) meaning that the rule of 6 would come into operation for residential accommodation. This means that individuals from up to 6 households will be able to share sleeping accommodation. This therefore opens the route to both youth and family work and secondary age groups undertaking residential visits from this point onwards. Whilst this may be slightly academic given the timing at the end of the school year, it offers potential for summer non-school operations and school bookings during the Autumn term and beyond. 

“Guidance for schools in Wales for September (published last Friday and linked below) has changed. The main changes are that the bubble concept will be abolished as it is seen as a bit of a blunt tool in terms of track, trace and protect (as many of us know, with children in whole year groups sent home from school). TTP will be looking at a much more detailed level who needs to isolate if/when they come into contact with a positive test case. There is still an expectation that providers work with their client groups to ensure risk management of Coronavirus, and the first minster added this afternoon that this would be a legal requirement for organisations and businesses to put in place as restrictions relax. The guidance for schools is likely to evolve quite quickly after schools start back in September.

“There is a proposed move to something called level 0 on 7th August which would remove almost all restrictions except the wearing of face coverings in public places and two other restrictions but essentially trying to return life to as close as possible to pre-pandemic normal. 

“The sector specific ERF is sending out confirmation letters/emails this week, and so far about £1m of the £2m pot has been applied for and allocated. Colleagues in the education team stressed that from the applications to the sector specific fund, it also appeared that many applicants would also be eligible for the more general ERF (in the 6th round now) and that they still encourage providers to consider applying for the general ERF money as it is there waiting to be allocated.

“Finally, looking ahead we have been invited to contribute to the curriculum review group (as representatives of AHOEC and OEAP) so will gain access to further insight and potential influence in terms of curriculum-based outdoor learning, and with specific support through ADEW there look to be more opportunities to both promote and deliver outdoor learning and adventure education. The establishment of a cross-party group in the Senedd gives us a further voice to both hold the ministers to account for their decisions regarding the sector, and move the work of the sector forward with a balanced but politically recognised voice through the CPG. One of the members of this group asked a specific question of the education minister in yesterday afternoon’s plenary and although he received a short and perhaps less detailed answer, it was good to hear outdoor education being discussed on the floor of the Senedd.”

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