The plan is aimed at education for learners aged 16 and over, including further and higher education, apprenticeships, employability and adult learning.
The ‘Resilience Plan for post-16 learning’ has been published today, setting out how the Welsh Government will work with colleges, universities and training providers to help ensure that learners are supported throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan identifies the priority groups most in need of support and sets out the expectations of how education providers and the Welsh Government will work together in response to Covid-19 and how key decisions will be communicated.
Since education providers in Wales closed for face-to-face learning on 20 March, colleges and universities have moved to remote learning, delivering online lectures, tutorials and reviews, as well as ensuring support for more vulnerable learners continues.
The plan is divided into three phases – the current ‘rescue’ phase is focused on ensuring education providers have immediate security of funding and arrangements for learning in place this academic year; the ‘review’ phase plans for potential changes this autumn; and the ‘renew’ phase will put arrangements in place for the remainder of the academic year 2020-21.
The plan identifies learners for whom the coronavirus is likely to cause the most disruption, including Year 11 and 13, and vocational learners who need to access colleges or workplaces to complete their courses. The Welsh Government has increased online resources for post-16 through its Hwb platform, with distance learning resources available for both learners and providers.
The Resilience Plan follows the publication of the continuity of learning plan for schools, ‘Stay Safe. Stay Learning’, published last month.
The Education Minister has also announced that £1.3m of capital funding, part of the Sêr Cymru programme, will be used to invite applications from Welsh universities to submit novel research proposals that could contribute to or boost the advancement of research that impacts COVID-19.
The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, said:
The coronavirus has presented huge challenges for both students and education providers, in both the immediate and the longer term. This Resilience Plan will provide a clear focus so we can work together with our education partners to overcome these challenges
This plan will complement our continuity of learning plan for schools, ‘Stay Safe. Stay Learning’, but recognises the greater levels of autonomy and diversity of education and training provided by the post-16 sector.
Our colleges, universities and training providers are critical to the national response to the coronavirus and the rebuilding of the economy. We are committed to doing all we can to support them.
The Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said:
We do not only want to bounce back from this pandemic, but to build back better by creating a national economy which sees employment, wealth and prosperity spread more equally across Wales. The post-16 education sector will be crucial to this.
As we shape our recovery from the impacts of coronavirus, we are committed to doing all we can to provide a strong foundation for those looking for employment, learners, trainees and apprentices to flourish in the future.
“This incredibly challenging period has already highlighted the talent, commitment and incredible resilience of training and learning providers in supporting individuals here in Wales. It’s efforts like these that will help ensure we emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.