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Torfaen primary school has been outstanding in lockdown – says Torfaen MS

Written by on 26th June 2020

Torfaen MS Lynne Neagle has paid tribute to a Torfaen primary school for being ‘truly outstanding’ at keeping in touch with pupils during the lockdown.

The MS highlighted the efforts of Garnteg primary when she shared the words of her eight-year-old constituent with the Education Minister in a bid to demonstrate the importance of personal contact between pupils and teachers.

The MS, who has been running a lockdown challenge for school children to nominate their Covid19 superheroes, quoted from Florence, a Year Three pupil at Garnteg Primary, who had nominated her teachers.

Reading from the nomination, Lynne Neagle said: ‘Mrs Lewis is still setting us work and helping us learn. I like Mrs Lewis because whenever I need help, I can tell her. She has a little girl called Lily and she joined us on the video call. On the video call, I showed her my dog Pippa and I told Mrs Lewis when Pippa’s birthday was. She liked my dog. On one video call, Mrs Lewis read the class part of a story, and it was lovely to hear her voice.’

The MS, who is chair of the Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee, said she would have read Florence’s whole essay if there had been time because it conveyed much better than she could, why personal contact with teachers ‘really, really matters.’

But, she knew, ‘unfortunately’ that too few children had received high-quality contact with teachers in lockdown.

The MS, who paid tribute to the ‘phenomenal effort’ of the Education Minister Kirsty Williams in trying to maximise children’s time in school this summer asked what more could be done to ensure all children in Wales had good face-to-face contact with their teachers.

She said:

Minister, I know that you are doing absolutely everything that you can to ensure that children get more time in school. When schools closed in March, it was an emergency. It’s not an emergency now and it won’t be in September. What more can we do to ensure that all children in Wales have high-quality personal contact with their teachers, going forward?

In reply, the Minister, who said she had been overwhelmed by the outstanding practice delivered by schools during the lockdown, said attention had now switched to the new academic year in September and a focus on maximising face-to-face contact and minimising disruption to the normal course of a child’s education.

She said:

We have to, quite rightly, as you say, plan appropriately for a range of scenarios that we could face in the autumn term. But setting a national expectation that children and their parents can have with regard to live interaction, should we be in the situation, as a result of the virus, that children have to spend some time at home, is a very important part of that work, because we know it is greatly valued by children and young people.