With schools across Scotland closed until June, Argyll and Bute Council is preparing for pupils returning in August, subject to COVID-19 safety requirements.
At a meeting of the council’s Business Continuity Committee, members heard about work which is ongoing to prepare for the re-opening of schools, as part of a discussion about the steps the council is taking to support businesses and communities affected by COVID-19.
Members also heard how the council is working closely with the Scottish Qualifications Association (SQA) to ensure young people still get the qualifications they deserve, despite this year’s exams being cancelled due to lockdown.
Teachers have been asked to provide the SQA with an estimate of each individual pupil’s grade and band, using their professional judgement and knowledge of their work. This will be based on learners’ demonstrated and inferred attainment of the required skills, knowledge and understanding for each course at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher. These submissions must be with the SQA no later than the 29 May.
Members were also updated on the vast amount of work being done by education staff to deliver remote learning plans to pupils and their families during this time, through a wide variety of digital resources. The council’s Digital Learning Team has been, and will continue to be, available to support staff and learners during the period of school closure, and iPads have been made available to pupils to overcome the challenge if they do not have a device at home.
The council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “We want to be prepared for welcoming our young people back as soon as we can do that safely. When and how that happens will depend very much on national guidance.
“We know that our young people and families are missing their schools in lots of ways. We are therefore looking already at different scenarios that might apply for schools re-opening, so that we are prepared.
“Responding to COVID-19 is a fairly fast-moving and changing situation, so August is too far away just now to predict how education services will work then. What’s certain is that the safety of our pupils, teachers and school staff will be the priority.
“I have been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of hard work that’s been going on behind the scenes by the education service and families, to deliver access to learning for our young people.
“However, as I have said previously, every child is at a different stage on their educational journey and every child has different needs. Parents need to do what works best for their household and not put too much pressure on themselves while trying to home-school during lockdown. Any parents needing help or advice during this time can call our Parent and Carer Support Line on 01546 605524.”
For information about the SQA’s alternative certification model, visit: www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/files_ccc/020420-SQA-NQ2020-Parent-Carer-covid-19-FAQ.pdf