A PETITION set up by a parent which calls on the Welsh Government to find a solution which will enable all children to progress with their education full time in September has already attracted more than 2,600 signatures.

Elfed Williams, a father-of-two from Llanrhaeadr and chair of Llanrhaeadr yng Nghinmeirch Community Council, is behind the petition and is asking the Government to ensure that preparations are being made to ensure children receive a full-time education from the start of the new term, even if social distancing has to be maintained as well as a combination of school and home-based learning through virtual classrooms.

Mr Williams, who is school governor and dad to two daughters, aged 15 and 19, initially started the petition in response to concerns raised by parents in the area.

He said his petition has received support from ‘all corners of Wales’, with parents and teachers reaching out to Mr Williams about their worries.

Mr Williams said: “I set up the petition, not because of the lack of support my daughter is receiving from her school, which has been good under the circumstances, but because the level of support she and other children throughout Wales have received varied so much from school to school with some schools providing more than others.

“ Even though the level of support my daughter has received has been good, receiving work to get on with at home can not replace teacher-led lessons.”

Denbighshire Free Press:

Mr Williams who has two daughters worries about the future of education

Mr Williams added: “That is why I felt driven to set up this petition to make sure we get back to teacher-led lessons in September. There appears to have been very little guidance from the Welsh Government as to what level of support children should receive these last few months. It has been up to schools individually to come up with a plan.

“Kirsty Williams, Wales’ Minister for Education, recent announcement that schools would reopen for four weeks had to be reduced to three in most counties in Wales because of her lack of consultation with teachers unions.

“This is what concerns me come September. That there will be a lack of planning and consultation with teachers, unions and schools.”

In Denbighshire, schools will close for the summer term on Friday, July 17 and will not open for the additional week as set out by Welsh Government.

Conwy County Borough Council will keep their schools open for a further week, until July 24.

“In Denbighshire, I know that teachers and schools have done a great job in trying circumstances but many teachers that have spoken to me have been frustrated in the lack of support and direction they have received from Welsh Government,” Mr Williams said.

“They are concerned that there is only a couple of weeks left of this term and there is no real lead as to what is expected of them when the new term starts.

“I have had parents and teachers, from locally and other parts of Wales, who have contacted me since I set up the petition. They want to see their children’s education getting back on track by September and to see lessons getting back to some kind of normality, even if some of the lessons have to be teacher led online.

"I had a teacher contact me saying he had no idea what the plan was for lessons in September as their school had not been provided with any guidance as yet as what they should be providing and in what format if social distancing has to be maintained.

“The Welsh Government needs to consider what provisions needs to be in place for children that can not access high-speed broadband, or have to shield and unable to attend school at all.

“Not every family is able to afford buying laptops or tablets for their children and unless this is tackled, we will see a further divide in our society between the haves and have-nots.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Wales is the only UK nation where all pupils have been given the opportunity to attend school before the summer holidays, to see their teachers and classmates and to ‘check in, catch up and prepare’ for summer and September.

“As we have seen, thousands of children across Wales have already returned to school.

“Good practice and evidence from this current period is helping inform school operations for the future. Wales is in a unique position in having this opportunity, and that is thanks to the efforts of heads, teachers and wider school staff.

“Health and scientific advice is evolving, and having to look ahead a further two months is an added challenge.

“The Education Minister is looking at that advice and evidence and will provide a further update in the coming days.”

See the petition at petitions.senedd.wales/petitions/200065