School survey results to inform plans for reopening

Bridgend County Borough Council has received the results of a survey on how parents and carers of school-age children feel about the eventual reopening of local schools.

Carried out before Welsh Government confirmed that all schools in Wales will launch phased catch-up sessions from Monday 29 June, the results of the survey have coincided with the announcement.

The council is now using the results to help inform its plans and decision-making as it seeks to balance the views of parents and carers with the national guidance.

In total, there were 11,337 survey completions. Of these, 31 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that they are concerned about how their child will get to school, with the majority stating they will be dropped off by car.

Multiple or significant concerns about children returning to school were expressed by 57 per cent, and 41 per cent said that their child was anxious or very anxious about returning.

Social distancing within schools were a concern for 81 per cent of respondents. Staggered lunch and break times, rearranged seating and furniture and the use of rotas to limit pupil numbers proved to be the most common actions they thought the council could take to help keep pupils safe.

Phasing pupils back to school by specific year group was popular with 57 per cent of respondents, while 38 per cent said their children would not attend even if schools are deemed safe to re-open in the summer term. A further 32 per cent stated that they were unsure.

The most commonly selected year groups to return to school first were Year 6, Year 10 and then Year 12. At 55 per cent, more than half of respondents indicated they would prefer for their child to return to school in September, with 13 per cent opting for June and normal school holidays.

When asked about other issues that have arisen due to the pandemic, 73 per cent stated that they were very satisfied or satisfied with food parcels provided to children eligible for free school meals. Of the emergency childcare hubs, 84 per cent of those whose children had attended said they were very satisfied or satisfied.

Cllr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said: “The survey results have provided us with a valuable insight into how local parents and carers feel about a gradual reopening of schools, and have also coincided with Welsh Government’s announcement on national plans for its ‘Check In, Catch Up – Prepare for Summer and September’ initiative.

“We are now looking at how we can reflect the views of parents and carers as we seek to implement the plans from Welsh Government, and will be using the feedback to inform our own decision making.

“As people will have natural concerns about potential exposure, it should also be noted that Welsh Government has made it clear families will not be fined if they do not send their children to school for the catch-up sessions.

“We are already working alongside head teachers and school governors to make necessary preparations for issues ranging from home to school transport and social distancing procedures to the emergency childcare hubs and free school meals, so look out for further details on both the catch-up sessions and an eventual phased reopening of schools.”