School closures for NATO

First published in Letters by

SOME weeks ago, I questioned why local schools were closing during the NATO Summit being held at the Celtic Manor, Newport.

It has now come to light that many schools in Cardiff and Newport are to remain open, whilst schools across Barry and the rural Vale as far as Llantwit are to be closed.

Early closure and late opening will cause enormous pressures on families. This comes after six weeks of summer holiday, when many find childcare arrangements difficult to arrange.

A further three days for NATO – on top of INSET training days- effectively takes the summer break closer to seven weeks.

This week the article was picked up by BBC Wales Today.

Since then, scores of parents have contacted me in anger at the Vale’s decision. Many parents have already paid for a long period of child care, just to be hit by another bill to cover school closures. This has raised much resentment amongst many local families.

One parent asked me if he could claim the additional childcare cost from the council. Good point. I wonder how they will respond.

There is no fault on Governors and head teachers. They were left with little option other than to close following the recommendations from the decision makers at the Vale Council. Yet, the council in Cardiff and Newport are allowing their schools to remain open.

There are several schools in both Newport and Cardiff that are within a few miles of the NATO venues. These are staying open, whilst schools on Barry Island – with no link to the airport or even in Llantwit are to be closed.

The council blame police advice. I have seen the advice and it is obvious that the decision makers in in our Authority have over reacted, putting parents and schools in impossible positions.

The Vale’s actions conflict with official requests.

It is quite obvious that this is the case. Otherwise, how else would schools in Cardiff, Newport, Monmouthshire and even those around Bristol Airport remain unaffected?

A further worrying factor will be the impact on the school’s performance banding, where they are penalised for pupil absence. Some parents plan to keep their children home, rather than send them for part of the time. This will have a major impact on absence levels and how our schools will compare with those across Wales.

All because of a major misjudgement by the decision makers at the Vale.

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