As pupils across Argyll and Bute prepare to break-up today for the school summer holidays, the Council's Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, has issued a special message to pupils, staff and parents.
"We’re almost at the end of the school year and what a year it’s been. Nothing could have prepared us for the challenges we’ve had to overcome in the last 12 months, particularly in our schools, but the way in which staff, pupils and parents have coped is truly remarkable," she said.
"Pupils adjusted to new ways of learning with confidence; teachers became accustomed to providing lessons over a digital platform; our central education teams went above and beyond; and parents continued to provide their children with support as they juggled their own work and transformed their homes into makeshift, temporary classrooms and offices. When we entered lockdown in March 2020, I don’t think any of us expected it to last as long as it did. A year later, and things are just slowly starting to get back to normal.
"Schooling today, however, still looks very different to how it did before. For the second year in a row, young people have been unable to sit their exams and teachers have had to work closely with the SQA to assess pupils’ work; school leavers who have gone onto further education have done so without the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the student experience; P1 and S1 transitions have had to take place virtually; and annual school events have been held without the usual parental/community involvement.
"Despite these challenges, our children and young people have taken lockdown life in their stride. Their ability to adapt and overcome both in and out of school has been truly phenomenal and inspiring.
"I know the last year hasn’t been an easy ride for staff, pupils and parents but the ability you have shown to adjust to these unprecedented circumstances has blown me away.
"People really came together to support each other when things got tough and I think that’s what makes Argyll and Bute so unique - we all look after one another, through the good and the bad, and I couldn’t be prouder to be the Policy Lead for Education.
"From the bottom of my heart, thank you to each and every one of you for the hard work and dedication you have shown to education. While we’re not out of the woods just yet, I have no doubt that we will come out the other end of this stronger than before. I would like to wish you all a fantastic, well deserved summer break. Have fun and stay safe."