Massive FAQs list on the Reopening of Schools in Edinburgh

Below are 70 frequently asked questions and answers from the Council. They cover a wide range of commonly asked questions under a series of headings:

  1. Introduction
  2. About arrangement for re-opening schools
  3. About the curriculum and blended learning
  4. About cleaning, and protective and infection measures
  5. About getting to school and physical distancing
  6. Childcare and support for children, young people and families
  7. About support for staff

Please get in touch if you have any questions – Scott.Arthur@Edinburgh.Gov.UK

1. Introduction

We are putting arrangements in place which will follow national guidance, physical distancing of 2 metres and hygiene regimes to keep our children and teachers safe. School rolls in Edinburgh have been rising due a growing population in the city. This means many of our schools are at capacity which makes physical distancing more difficult. 

Pupils will receive a blended model (link to blended FAQ) of in-home and in-school learning. We’re doing everything we can to get to 50% by August including: 

  • looking at all spaces within our schools and in other venues
  • encouraging and supporting schools to use outdoor learning as much as possible
  • talking to the Scottish Government about additional resources
  • planning for changes, for example a reduction in the 2m rule.

Your school’s headteacher will be in contact with you before 26 June to let you know which days your child will be in school.  

We will let you know arrangements for Early Years as soon as we can.

The Scottish Government proposes childcare facilities will reopen during phase 3 of the national recovery plan which should be in place before schools return. Our partner organisations are making their own plans to reopen when it is safe. We are working to make sure wraparound care services, such as breakfast and after school clubs, are open as soon as possible and we will work creatively with partners to do all we can to help.  

Letters sent to parents and carers
1. 12 June 2020: Here is the letter sent to parents/carers from Alistair Gaw, Executive Director of Communities and Families, on pupils’ return to mainstream schools in August 2020.
2. 12 June 2020: Here is the letter sent to parents/carers from Alistair Gaw, Executive Director of Communities and Families, on pupils’ return to special schools in August 2020.
3. 29 May 2020: Here is a letter from Andy Gray, Chief Education Officer, updating parents/carers on pupils’ return to school.

2. About arrangement for re-opening schools

Why will pupils not be going back to school full-time?
This is due to the need to maintain physical distancing. There will be a blend of inschool and at home learning. Pupils will spend more time in school as soon as it’s safe to do so. We are working to maximise the time children are in school and after the initial induction period from 12 August we are aiming for at least two days each week by 24 August. Our goal is to have all children back in school full time as soon as that is safe.

School rolls in Edinburgh have been rising as a result of a growing population in the city. This means many of our schools are at capacity making physical distancing more difficult. We must also make sure that when pupils are in school, they receive good quality learning and teaching. 

When will schools reopen?
The City of Edinburgh Council will reopen schools on 12 August 2020. School staff will attend from 10 August. Your child’s school will provide more details to you on your child’s attendance pattern before the end of the current term on 26 June.

Why are children going back a week earlier than planned? What impact will this have on other holiday dates?
The date has been set by the Scottish Government for all schools across Scotland. All other session dates will remain the same except the summer term next year will now end on 25 June 2021. 

Is it safe for my child to go back to school? What assurance can the Council give parents? 
All our schools are putting measures into place to make sure pupils and staff are safe and that all relevant guidance is in place and being followed. The decision to reopen schools is based on evidence that the virus is sufficiently under control. By putting measures in place to keep children and staff at a safe distance from each other and making sure everything is kept clean and hygienic, children can return safely.

What will schools be like when they reopen?
To keep everybody safe schools will be making changes to the way they operate. We are working with our headteachers and their teams to develop new ways of working which will ensure adherence to safety protocols such as physical distancing.

Where physical distancing is not appropriate to the needs of children, additional risk mitigation will be in place by organising children into small groups with consistent membership. The main change will be that fewer pupils will be in school at any one time to begin with and we will have risk assessments and health and safety measures in place.

There will be more cleaning and other hygiene measures such as hand sanitisers and hand washing facilities to make sure schools meet the required national standards for infection control. 

Why can’t children have more time in schools? 
We aim to maximise in-school learning from 12 August and will continue to increase attendance as quickly as possible. Headteachers are working towards a 50% model of in-school learning, working with Government guidelines. When Government and health guidance changes, for example on physical distancing, we can increase the numbers. We aim to maximise in-school learning from 12 August and will continue to increase attendance as quickly as possible. 

We’re doing everything we can to get to 50% by August including looking at all potential options for space within and out with school buildings and talking to the Scottish Government about any necessary additional resources. We are also planning for changes, for example a reduction in the 2m rule.

Who will decide which children go to school and when? Can my children all go to school on the same day? 
Schools are currently planning for attendance in schools, taking into account factors such as school roll, classroom sizes, staffing and, in primary schools, family groups. This will allow sibling groups to go to primary school on the same day and with children in their own classes. 

Will the Council make a blanket decision about school time arrangements or will there be flexibility for individual schools? If no blanket decision, how will equity of education be achieved? 
Schools will plan the attendance pattern of pupils based on their own circumstances and context. The key factor is safety. All children will attend school for whole days and in Primary and Early Years children from the same family will be able to do so on the same day. Schools will advise parents of arrangements before the end of term to allow them time to plan for this.

What are the arrangements for Special Schools?
Special schools will open in August using a Blended Learning model. The safety of children, families and staff will be the paramount concern and we are working within current Scottish Government Health and Safety advice. Teaching will take place Mondays to Thursdays with 50% of children being in each special school at any one time. All children will attend two full days per week, or four full days per fortnight. Additional time will be offered to children of key workers as required. As and when Scottish Government guidance changes, our models will be reviewed to reflect this new guidance. 

Special Schools have undertaken an audit to establish the number of digital devices required to support blended learning. Blended learning approaches will include virtual assemblies, virtual circle-time and live-streaming of lessons where appropriate. Families will also be supported to access online learning and resources through the Additional Support for Learning (ASL) Website.

Transport applications for children going to special schools are being reviewed in line with the usual process and transport will be in place from August.

Will other premises be used for learning and teaching to support physical distancing? Will there be an opportunity to expand classrooms in school to allow more children to attend?
We are already planning to have as many children in school as possible, using all the space available in school settings. We are looking at additional venues and will use these where possible. There are additional risks in using non-school buildings, for example the experience can be unsettling for some children. This will be risk assessed and managed safely. 

Can school hours be changed, or can we have sessions on a Saturday to make up for time lost with teachers when pupils return on a part-time basis?
While there may be an adjustment to school hours we will be keeping as far as possible to the familiar pattern of school days with in-school learning taking place Monday to Thursday. Where we can we will be keeping to the routines that children and families are familiar with. We are considering targeted support as part of the attendance patterns in schools.

How do schools being used as hubs throughout July prepare for the August return with facilities already being used?
Plans are well underway to keep the Hubs open during the summer holidays and make sure schools will be ready for pupils from 12 August 2020.

Will school meals be provided? If so, how will this be managed?
There will be no hot meals. If your child receives free schools meals, we will give them a packed lunch when they are in school and a direct payment on the days that pupils do not physically go to school.

For other pupils, we can provide a packed lunch which you will pay through ParentPay to avoid the circulation of cash. We are working on the choice of packed lunches at the moment.

Alternatively, parents may wish to provide their own packed lunch

Will schools be supported to make sure there are enough resources in class to prevent the need for sharing? Will children be expected to bring in their own pens/pencils etc? Can they bring in their own tablets/laptops and have access to school WiFi to help with learning?
Schools already provide many resources for children; however, Health Protection Guidance tells us that it is safe for children to bring their own resources to school.

The Council is considering how we manage Digital Learning as part of Blended Learning. The current policy, and our long-term vision, is for school managed, one to one devices – but we are reassessing the risks to ensure this policy fits the new context. Over half of our learners use a Council provided, one-to-one device but we know that some families have bought devices for home learning. The decision will be in place for August and will depend on a range of factors, such as equity, safety and the extent to which digital learning is already in use. 

Given the data coming from schools internationally and particularly in Europe as they adopt a phased return to education, will the Council look to learn from this and adopt good practice examples? What level of decision making in this respect is devolved?
This is something we have already been doing. Lessons learned from other countries have been shared as part of the initial planning for schools, and we will continue to do so.

How often will the return to school be re-evaluated? Will the part-time schooling arrangements be dropped if the statistics show that the virus is gone?
The Council will keep the return to schools under daily evaluation. We will continue to follow all current national guidance when considering for how long the blended model of learning and teaching will operate.

3. About the curriculum and blended learning

This section focusses on arrangements for learning and teaching in City of Edinburgh schools from 12 August 2020.

What will the focus be for learning and teaching during pupils time in school? Will it be on core areas like numeracy and literacy?
There will be a focus on teaching and feedback, with all areas of the curriculum included as far as possible. Guidance for the blended model of learning and teaching is being prepared at present, which will also include information for parents/carers. Further details will be made available as soon as possible.

Will key workers’ children attending the Hubs be encouraged to complete their schoolwork?
It is intended that, after the summer holidays, key workers’ children will receive childcare. This will support families as schools will be able to plan learning and childcare together. There may be a need to offer childcare from an alternative building rather than a child’s school. 

Will all children be treated equally in terms of their access to learning? What assessment has the Council done and what does this work say the impact of this new style of teaching will be on outcomes for all pupils?
Patterns of attendance will be dependent on the capacity of each school to make sure children can be accommodated in the building as safely as possible. There may be differences in these patterns across schools, but all schools will be making sure that all children receive the support required to access learning at home and at school. We will do all we can to make sure pupils are treated equally across the city. 

What is blended learning?
Blended learning is a mix of in-school learning and learning away from school. Schools are getting their blended learning plans ready for August. This can include digital learning and homework as set and assessed by the teacher in relation to in school learning. 

There are lots of factors which influence how it works in practice. These are:

  • the school values – these will continue to be at the heart of learning and teaching
  • the design of the curriculum – schools will be updating what and how they teach
  • the ages and stages of learners – blended learning in secondary could be different than in primary and special schools
  • the numbers of learners with digital devices and how the devices are used in school and at home
  • what the school community wants – for example more or less digital learning
  • the skills, knowledge and resources – devices, access to the outdoors, training, workshops for parents and so on.

Parents and carers will be asked about their views as schools develop blended learning plans. Parent and carers will also be asked if everything is working well as the term goes on and should always get in touch with the school to talk about any problems.

Digital Learning is not essential for Blended Learning to work, but it helps. Since Lockdown every school in the City of Edinburgh has been making use of it. Most older primary and secondary pupils use Microsoft Teams to share learning. Younger pupils mostly use digital Learning Journals and workbooks. All schools used websites to keep in touch about learning.

Our vision is that all learners will have a digital device that will help them learn at home or in school. Almost half of our learners have a digital device provided by their school, and more are being bought every day. We are working with the Scottish Government to provide as much as we can – especially to families living in poverty.

Digital learning has to be safe, secure and fair. To make it work we must have teacher training, a good quality IT network and digital support. A lot of work has gone on in the background so far and there is more to be done. Next session we expect even more pupils to have live or pre-recorded lessons as part of their digital learning 

Some digital learning happens by posting lessons online, pupils uploading work and then teachers marking it. Other types include using pre-recorded video such as YouTube. Schools that use digital learning a lot might have live lessons. Often these are audio lessons, where pupils can see the teacher but not each other. A few schools have used live two-way video for lessons and check-ins and more will start to do this next session. Every Special School now has live two-way video.

Digital learning is evolving in Edinburgh just as it is everywhere else. If your child has not yet experienced the full benefits of digital learning, it will happen. All schools are working on this right now and for next session. Two-way video on Teams has now been enabled for every special school in Edinburgh to support blended learning approaches for children with complex additional support needs.

With a split between time in school and home learning, what support will there be with, for example, video learning or IT kit?
In terms of support with for example

  • video learning (eg using Zoom/Teams/Skype/live streaming/recording of lessons)
  • improvement to technology infrastructure in schools (including WiFi)
  • provision of technology for families without laptops/tablets • support if families don’t have access to a printer schools are being supported with approaches to blended learning and they will communicate with parents and carers about these approaches.

Will schools be supported practically and financially to provide as many opportunities for outdoor learning as possible?
Schools will be encouraged and supported to use outdoor learning as much as possible.

Will PE classes still take place? If not, will there be opportunities for pupils to be active and move during the school day?
PE will be in place.

How will children be given the opportunity from August to learn at their own pace?
Teachers will work with their classes to adapt the curriculum to their pupils’ needs.

Is there an approximate amount of work (ie hours) expected to be set for each pupil for each year group?
The amount of work will be tailored by age and stage for pupils.

Is there an opportunity to create and make available a more detailed forward plan (say a week in advance) of work for children for their home working to help parents/carers to plan better?
Individual schools will plan and communicate their arrangements to parents/carers. 

While schools have been closed, my child’s teacher has provided work online and they have been in touch regularly. How can teachers do this from August if they’re teaching in school as well? How will learning at home be supported?
We are currently reviewing the availability of teaching staff together with schools’ senior management teams and making plans to make sure that all pupils can learn effectively and make good progress, whether in school or at home. 

Any learning at home will be arranged and supported by your child’s teachers. You won’t be expected to ‘home school’ your child in the formal sense and teachers will be available to help and support your child with their learning at home. As well as the Learning Hub mentioned above, you can find lots of tips and advice, and the opportunity to sign up for a weekly newsletter, available on the Scotland Learns website, part of Education Scotland.

Has the SQA given any indication of whether the exams will proceed next year and has there been any discussion about the possibility of pupils repeating the year if restricted attendance is in place for a prolonged period?
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is assessing the situation with regard to qualifications and examinations in 2020/21. There have been no discussions to date regarding pupils repeating a year based on prolonged restricted attendance.

Will parents’ evenings still take place?Your child’s teachers will continue to update you on their progress, but it’s likely that face to face meetings such as parents’ evenings will happen in different ways. Your child’s school will contact you to let you know what these new arrangements are.

4. About cleaning, and protective and infection measures

This section is about safety, cleaning and other measure to help prevent spread of the virus.

Is it safe for my child to go back to school? What assurance can the Council give parents? 
All our schools are putting measures into place to make sure pupils and staff are safe and that all relevant guidance is in place and being followed. The decision to reopen schools is based on evidence that the virus is sufficiently under control. By putting measures in place to keep children and staff at a safe distance from each other and making sure everything is kept clean and hygienic, children can return safely.

How will cleaning be managed? Will this be done outside school hours to optimise pupil attendance?
Cleaning will be completed in line with the current Scottish Government and health guidance, including an enhanced cleaning regime between different groups. The main cleaning activities will take place outside school hours, but some cleaning of communal spaces and toilets will take place during the school day.

Will there be additional cleaning/janitorial staff brought in to manage the extra cleaning requirements?
Our Facilities Management providers are reviewing their resources and refocusing these as necessary so that cleaning is in line with the national guidance, particularly in relation to infection control. 

Will staff be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)?
Staff in our schools will not need to use PPE unless they would normally need to (for example, in a chemistry lesson). PPE is only needed in a very small set of circumstances. This might include where the care of children already involves the use of PPE, in which case schools will continue to make this available to staff.

For children whose care needs mean that additional PPE may be required for the staff working with them to keep everyone safe, individual risk assessments and plans will be drawn up in collaboration with parents and the relevant professionals working with the child. These plans will be in line with advice from NHS Lothian and Health Protection Scotland

Will children be required to wear face masks/coverings or not? What happens if masks are compulsory and a child turns up without one?
The current Scottish Government guidance does not require anyone to wear a face mask in school, unless this has been identified through risk assessment, and for a particular task. Staff are provided with appropriate PPE.

If the government guidance around face masks changes this will be reviewed.

What will the expectations for children and young people be in terms of hand washing, use of hand sanitisers and supporting infection control?
Handwashing will be encouraged before and after any activity, such as mealtimes, break times and sporting activities. If children or young people have trouble washing their hands properly, help will be available. Where handwashing facilities are not immediately accessible, then hand sanitisers will be available. Schools will follow Scottish Government guidance. 

Someone in our house has coronavirus symptoms – should my child come into school?
No. If you or anyone else in your household develops symptoms of coronavirus such as a high temperature, a new and continuous cough or a loss of/change in smell or taste, that person must stay at home for seven days. In addition, everyone else in the household must stay at home for 14 days. You can find all the information about what you need to do on the NHS Inform website.  

Will testing be available to staff, pupils and school transport people?
Schools will follow the Scottish Government’s advice on the Test and Protect approach.

If a child or staff member falls ill with COVID-19 how will this be checked and what will the next steps be for detecting the spread and communicating around this? What will the deep cleaning arrangements be in this situation?
Schools have in place contingency plans to deal with positive cases of COVID-19. The Test and Protect process will be followed. In addition, schools will have arrangements in place to isolate potentially infected areas, and arrange for the appropriate level of cleaning, in line with Health Protection Scotland guidance.

If classes are split and someone in that class has parents showing symptoms will all children have to isolate?
The Scottish Government’s guidance will be followed in schools, as well as current self-isolation rules. If a child has parents displaying symptoms, then they should selfisolate for 14 days. There is no requirement for anyone else to self-isolate, unless they have been contacted by the NHS Test and Protect service, or if they themselves have symptoms of COVID-19.

What will the Council’s approach be to checking with families where there are underlying health conditions (not necessarily among children in schools, but parents or other family members)? Will this be considered as part of the planning for return to school? Will parents/carers where this is the situation be invited in to see the mitigation measures before children return to school?
As part of each school’s individual risk assessment, particular regard will be paid to those who fall within the vulnerable categories, as defined by the Scottish Government. Any risk assessment to support a pupil will be shared with their parent/carer.

What happens if the virus recurs? Will schools have to close again?
If the virus gets worse after restrictions have been lifted, schools may need to close again, possibly even at short notice. These decisions will be taken based on national, expert advice and Scottish Government guidance, and your child’s school will make you aware of the specific arrangements.

What happens if my child or someone else in our household is shielding?
If your child is shielding, they should continue to learn from home, and will be fully supported by their teachers to do so. If you have any concerns about your child returning to school, you should contact their teacher or headteacher to discuss this. 

If a child lives in a household where someone else is shielding, you should continue to follow the latest government guidance on shielding and contact your child’s teacher or head teacher to discuss this further.

5. About getting to school and physical distancing

Will children sit at individual desks 2 metres apart? Could class groups be isolated from each other to avoid unnecessary social interaction? Would physical barriers be used in open plan areas to help with this? What is the possibility of the social distancing guidance being reduced to 1m?
The layout of classrooms will take into account physical distancing requirements. There will be a variety of methods used to make sure that groups of children are allocated to specific areas.

On 18 June the Scottish Government said it would review the need for two metre physical distancing. If the rules change, we will adjust the plans accordingly.

Some children can struggle to follow rules for a number of reasons. What is the approach going to be where a child is unable to follow the social distancing rules?
We would expect, based on a full risk assessment, that a school will review each situation on a case by case basis and plan actions with parents, taking into account the individual circumstances. Where physical distancing is not appropriate to the needs of the children in the school, an additional risk mitigation approach will be in place which may include organising children into small groups with consistent membership, to decrease the number of interactions between different groups. Schools will try to maximise their use of outdoor space. 

How can my child get to and from school safely (including vulnerable children)? How will drop-off/pick-up be managed to maintain physical distancing? How will this work for nursery age children? 
There will be staggered drop off and pick up times where needed along with potential alternative entrances. Schools will advise of measures to support physical distancing at these times. We are looking at council transport for children who need this as part of planning for returning on 12 August 2020. We will give you further advice on this as soon as possible.

Will there be support to for Safe Routes to School, to allow children and young people to walk/cycle to school safely? Where you can’t pass others safely on paths to school, will the Council put infrastructure in place?
We are encouraging Parent Councils to become involved in reducing the number of cars attempting to come near schools and to develop active travel plans for children.

How will schools give medication to children who need it during the school day while observing physical distancing?
Medication will generally be administered as normal. Schools will follow advice from NHS Lothian regarding some procedures that should not be undertaken in school.

How will physical distancing/small groupings be managed in relation to children with additional support needs?
For some children with additional support needs, it is acknowledged that physical distancing will not be possible, e.g. if they require intimate personal care or if they are unable to understand the need for physical distancing. The risks of not being able to maintain physical distancing will be assessed and discussed with the child’s parents.

Where physical distancing is not appropriate to the needs of the children in the school, an additional risk mitigation approach will be in place which may include organising children into small groups with consistent membership, to decrease the number of interactions between different groups. 

Will there be physical distancing in ELC settings?
When caring for younger children physical distancing is not desirable or appropriate. Our ELC settings will take other steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff and children; for example, caring for children in small groups and using outdoor space more. Staff and parents/carers will still need to observe physical distancing, and therefore new arrangements may be put in place for drop off/pick up times to help with this. These measures will be based on public health advice.

6. Childcare and support for children, young people and families 

This section relates to childcare and support available as schools and Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings reopen.

Childcare is a huge concern if children are part-time in school. What can the Council do to help? 
We are currently engaging with parents on the implications of this and what we can do to help. We will also advise the Scottish Government what parents tell us. The Scottish Government propose childcare provision will reopen during phase 3 of the national recovery plan which should be in place before schools return. Our partner organisations are considering their own plans to reopen when it is safe to do so. We are working to make sure wraparound care services, such as breakfast and after school clubs, are open as soon as possible and we will work creatively with partners to do all we can to help.  

Will Early Learning and Childcare settings reopen in August?
We cannot confirm this yet. At present there is not an agreed timeline for reopening services other than the critical childcare currently being provided for key workers and other eligible children. The Scottish Government propose childcare provision will reopen during phase 3 of the national recovery plan. Childminders and fully outdoor nurseries may be able to open sooner than other settings. We appreciate this is a big concern for many parents and we will give you further details as soon as possible. 

What will Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) be like?
Our Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings are acting on Scottish Government advice and putting in appropriate arrangements to support children. Parents/carers will be contacted by staff with more information when it is available. As a result of the epidemic the Scottish Government advised on 30 March 2020 that councils no longer have a duty to provide 1140 funded hours from August 2020. The national commitment to provide these funded hours remains in place, however full implementation of this is delayed at presentHas there been any consideration of the impact of these approaches on children and young people?

Across our schools there will be an overall focus on wellbeing and children, and we will monitor young people’s responses. There is guidance and support for staff on how to explain some of the measures. Educational Psychologists and Children’s Services will also work closely with schools to support best practice to maintain wellbeing and resilience.

Will my child have the same teacher as last year?
Each school will make its own arrangements about staffing.

Can children be in the same group/attend on the same day as friends?
We cannot guarantee this, as many other factors relating to health and safety measures must be taken into account when planning.

What support is being offered for children with additional support needs? Will support plans be updated to take blended learning into account?
Some children, including children with additional support needs, may require more support to return to school or ELC settings, or may require additional support if they have a high level of vulnerability. In these circumstances, the child’s school will be in touch with parents/carers direct to discuss how best to support their return to school. The ASL Service and Psychological Services will work with schools to plan support for children with more complex needs, involving third-sector partners as required. Parents will be included in the planning process for their child and will be consulted at each stage of the plan.

Enquire has a useful web page on what all the changes caused by Coronavirus mean for children with additional support needs.

What about childcare over the summer holidays?
You can apply for critical child care over the summer at one of our summer hubs.

Will Council consider offering wraparound care – breakfast and after school club to support working parents?
Limited childcare for key workers’ children will continue throughout the summer. If you think your child may be eligible, you can find out more here.  

I’ve been asked to return to work and I’m not a key worker. What childcare will be available to me and when? Is the Council liaising with employment bodies so they can support the new proposal for teaching children and to make sure parents will not be penalised for not being able to be in work full time? 
The Scottish Government propose childcare provision will reopen during phase 3, and partner organisations are considering their own planning to reopen when it is safe to do so. As an employer we recognise many of our staff will have childcare concerns and so we will be as flexible as possible to help them and hope other employers will do the same.

Will external childcare arrangements be considered when allocating school places?
It is not possible to guarantee this, as we will have to ensure that children attend school in the patterns available to schools, based on their capacity.

What about children who have Child’s Plans and are receiving child protection support having access to services previously provided in school? How will health professionals see children given physical distancing?
All Child and Young People’s Plans are regularly reviewed to make sure the most appropriate supports are in place at this time.

What happens if children/young people don’t engage or struggle with the blended model? Is there any potential for pupils being held back a year?
We recognise that all children and young people will require to reconnect with school, and so the curriculum will be adapted. A focus group of children, young people and teaching staff is being formed to continue to develop blended learning approaches to fit the learning needs of all children and young people. We do not intend to take forward repeat years unless there are exceptional individual circumstances not pertinent to all children affected by school closures.

What will the details of transition from nursery to P1 and P7 to S1 look like and what additional support will be given to those pupils transitioning?
Nursery to Primary 1 transition is a key focus for our schools and ELC settings, so that children at this stage have access to information about their new school and its staff. This will be completed in a variety of forms: for example, your child’s new school may produce a video to help your child become more familiar with their new school.

Although children will not have had ELC for a number of months when they move into Primary 1, staff will be able to provide an environment and curriculum that suits and adapts to the needs of the children in their class. Transition arrangements will be put in place to make sure class teachers have detailed information regarding each child’s progress in learning so that they can continue a pathway suited to the child. It is also important to stress that activities that support building confidence and relationships will also be key to children successfully settling into Primary 1.

For P7 pupils going into S1, schools have been creatively using technology in a variety of exciting ways to prepare them as part of their transition programme. The usual processes to ensure information is appropriately shared are being followed and extra measures are in place for young people who need extra support. 

How will the school day balance out academic and social aspects? Children and young people have missed the social interactions with their friends/opportunities to work with classmates on projects.
Pupils will work in classrooms alongside their peers and learning and social experiences will be planned by teachers and school staff in line with relevant guidance.

My child is worrying about going back to school – how can I help them?
It’s understandable that your child may be worried about going back to school after spending so much time with you at home. This is normal, and the school will be expecting it. If your child is feeling worried or if you have any concerns about how they will feel going back, you should discuss this with their teachers who will be able to provide further advice and support. 

Do children have to go back in August? If one parent is at home can they choose to keep them off?
It is important that children return to school if they can do so safely. If you have any concerns about your child going back, you should contact their teacher or headteacher to discuss this. If they need to stay at home, they should continue with learning at home based on the advice from their teachers.

My child should be starting school in August but I’d prefer they didn’t – can I defer and keep them in Early Learning and Childcare centre?
Schools will be doing everything they can to support children when they come back to school, no matter what year they’re in. We will be working hard to make sure that children have a positive transition, so that they’re ready to start school. However, if you’re considering keeping your child in ELC for an extra year, please get in touch with our Schools team. Deferrals can only be considered for exceptional individual circumstances.

My child is in P7 or S6 – will they miss out on the leaving prom/ceremony altogether?
Children who have missed out on opportunities to celebrate leaving school will have the opportunity to do so at a later date. Your child’s school will be thinking about appropriate ways for children to mark these important changes and will contact you to let you know how these arrangements will be made. Make sure you keep in touch with updates from the school to see what they’re planning to do.

7. About support for staff 

This section covers support that will be provided for staff working in Early Learning and Childcare and school settings.

Will there be additional staff brought in to support learning and teaching? Has consideration been given to bringing in student/probationer teachers earlier to help with this?
We will make sure schools have the staff they need to continue delivering learning and teaching. This will involve recruiting additional staff, including additional probationer teachers if necessary. 

What is the timescale for information coming to allow staff to plan for the reopening and their work?
Detailed guidance is being provided to schools. This guidance covers all aspects of operating in current conditions in a safe and effective way. 

Will there be additional funds allocated to support schools and teachers through this period?
The Council is incurring additional expenditure in relation to COVID-19. The Scottish Government has allocated some funding to the Council and is allowing flexibility with ring fenced funding we receive to support Educational Recovery.

What discretion will schools have to provide Parent Councils with the relevant information on a return strategy soon?
Schools are engaging with parents and Parent Councils on an ongoing basis. Plans will shared by schools with parents by the end of June 2020. 

Will there be training for teachers and extra support for children experiencing mental health problems since the school was closed and throughout the return period?
A range of materials and online learning opportunities are being provided to help teachers and education and care staff to best support children’s wellbeing and resilience at this time. Educational Psychologists and Children’s Services will also work closely with schools to support best practice to maintain wellbeing and resilience.

If teachers are absent how does the Council propose to fill this gap. Is there a Council strategy to deal with the potential teacher shortage and make sure there is additional staffing available?
We have a pool of supply teaching and support staff available. We will also review the availability of staff across all our settings so that, if needed, staff can move to settings where additional support may be required. Back to top

Will external professionals (eg speech therapists or counsellors) still be able to use the school for 1 to 1 sessions?
A range of partner organisations are supporting children, young people and families through online contact. It is anticipated this will continue for the moment and this has been included in risk management planning.

What about teachers trying to juggle in-school and online teaching with their own childcare issues. Will they have priority for full time school places for their own children?

Teachers and other school staff will be required to apply for critical childcare in the same way as all key workers. 

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