The false battle between cyclists and motorists in Edinburgh

Evening News reader Gail Keating correctly highlights (letters, 30.07.2020) how it is unacceptable for cyclists to cycle on the footpath or break the 20mph speed limit. 

Whilst I agree with these points absolutely, if we want safer streets we have to accept that the vast majority of people who are breaking the speed limit in Edinburgh are driving cars. I expect that virtually all of us who stick to the 20mph limit whilst driving would have experienced aggressive behaviour from other drivers who think the limit simply does not apply to them.

Likewise, people cycling on the footpath is not a common occurrence in most places. However, cars and vans parked on the pavement have become normalised in recent years. As well as damaging the footpath, this activity often forces people in wheelchairs or pushing buggies on to the road to bypass the parked vehicle. 

So let’s not turn improving road safety into a battle between cyclists and motorists, as too often it is really a fight between selfish people and the rest of us. If you own a car or bike, be responsible and keep its wheels on the road and stick to the speed limit. 

Briefing – Public Safety Improvements at Junction of Liberton Brae, Kirk Brae, Liberton Road, Mayfield Road and Blackford Glen Road

Below is a really useful update from Council Officers on public safety improvements at the junction of Liberton Brae, Kirk Brae, Liberton Road, Mayfield Road and Blackford Glen Road.

Background and Context
This junction is located on the busy A701 corridor and during the am and pm peak periods (particularly am) it is extremely busy with vehicular traffic, to the extent the junction is operating over-capacity, resulting in peak period vehicular delays. Due to the location of the junction and the make-up of the surrounding area, the pedestrian activity is minimal (see below for results of recent pedestrian surveys).

Below are some background facts on the existing junction: –

  • The junction was fully refurbished circa 2000. As part of this refurbishment, “walk with traffic” pedestrian phases were provided across Liberton Brae and Liberton Road. Prior to this refurbishment, no pedestrian facilities were available. The pedestrian phase across Liberton Brae shows a green man when Kirk Brae traffic is showing a green to vehicles as there is a banned left turn in place on Kirk Brae allowing this to happen. Similarly, the Liberton Road pedestrian phase appears when Mayfield Rd traffic is running as there is a banned left turn for Mayfield Rd traffic
  • During this refurbishment, a ramp was constructed at the top of Mayfield Road (as the footway doesn’t continue around the corner) allowing pedestrians access to the Liberton Road crossing.
  • As this junction is around 20 years old, it is unlikely to be refurbished for another 10 years or so. There are many traffic signal junctions throughout the City, with significantly older infrastructure and some have no pedestrian facilities whatsoever.
  • During the above-mentioned refurbishment, investigations were carried-out to determine if staggered crossings could be installed at the top of Mayfield Rd and bottom of Kirk Brae. However, due to the need to relocate existing services (fibre optic) at the foot of Kirk Brae the costs proved prohibitive at that time.
  • Due to this junction being on a strategic route and after extensive modelling, there is no scope to install an “all stop” pedestrian stage. Nonetheless, installing islands on Mayfield Rd and Kirk Brae, to allow a staggered crossing movement, would be feasible. Blackford Glen Road would have to remain un-signalled (no pedestrian phase) as there is no way to incorporate a pedestrian phase at this crossing point without stopping all traffic. The large footway area at the bottom of Kirk Brae could be reduced in size to gain the extra width required to install a staggered island and Mayfield Rd may be wide enough already as there is currently only one large lane marked, although vehicles sometimes queue in two lanes. The gradients at the top of Mayfield Rd could prove difficult to deal with and would require further investigation to determine what engineering measures would be required.
  • Cycle early starts were introduced around 18 – 24 months ago. Their installation necessitated an overall reduction in vehicle green time of around 12 seconds. This generated larger queues in the AM peak and led to several complaints. This is an example of how over-saturated this junction is (in terms of peak traffic flows) and testament as to why an all-stop pedestrian stage (necessitating roughly 25 seconds of loss time to vehicles) would not work.
  • Estimated cost to refurbish this junction, with staggered pedestrian crossings across Kirk Brae and Mayfield Rd, is c. £450k.

Existing Junction – Facilities for Pedestrians and Cyclists
The junction has five approaches:

Google Streetview images of the junction are below.

There are Advanced Stop Lines for cyclists in place at all junction approaches.  However, the junction is not ideal for cyclists, due to its large overall size, unusual layout and some fairly steep uphill slopes i.e. when heading southeast on the Mayfield Road entry and Kirk Brae exit and south on the Liberton Brae exit.  These slopes mean cyclists are travelling more slowly, increasing the risk of conflict with vehicles.

The Active Travel team has previously investigated the possibility of improving the junction layout to assist cyclists but concluded that this would only be possible if the junction were to be fundamentally reconfigured, at significant cost.  Given other competing calls for investment in Active Travel improvements, it was considered that this could not currently be prioritised.  Early release signals phases for cyclists were, however, introduced at the junction around 18 months ago.

Existing Junction – Traffic Signals Operation
The traffic signals operate the following stage sequence: –

  • Stage 1                  Liberton Brae and Liberton Rd (green for vehicles)
  • Stage 2                  Mayfield Rd (green for vehicles) Green man across Liberton Road
  • Stage 3                  Kirk Brae (green for vehicles) Green man across Liberton Brae
  • Stage 4                  Blackford Glen Rd (green for vehicles)

Stages one, two and three are preceded by a three seconds cycle early start signal, there is no cycle early start for Blackford Glen Rd.

There are currently no controlled pedestrian crossings across Mayfield Road, Kirkbrae or Blackford Glen Road.

The traffic signals mode of operation is fixed time during the weekday AM peak between 07:00 and 09:30, running a cycle time of 120 seconds.

At all other times apart from the weekday AM peak, the junction runs vehicle actuated (VA) mode, responding to the traffic demands as required.

Road Safety – Collisions
The Road Safety team has undertaken a Collision Retrieval covering a distance of 75m in each direction from the notional centre point of the junction. This captured the whole of the junction itself and the approach to each of the junction STOP lines.

The Council uses a three-year period for investigating collision data as part of its established Accident Investigation and Prevention (AIP) protocol.  If there are three or more similar collisions within that period, the location will be given consideration for an appropriate intervention.  However, for the purpose of this investigation, a five-year search period has been used.

It is important to recognise that the Council only holds details of personal injury collisions supplied by Police Scotland, which is responsible for the collection of all personal injury road traffic collision data within its force area.  No data is available on collisions that do not involve personal injury (often described as ‘damage only’) or incidents described as “near misses”; as these types of incident do not have to be reported to the Police (or to anyone else) there is no way of collecting comprehensive data.  In addition, what constitutes a near miss is open to interpretation and any data would therefore be subjective.

Using the latest vetted data set, which is currently to the end of December 2019, there were three personal injury collisions recorded in the five-year period investigated.  The locations of these collisions are shown in Image 7, with each collision represented by a green mark.

Summary details of these collisions are as follows:

  • The three collisions resulted in four slight casualties.
  • None of the collisions involved Vulnerable Road Users (pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists) or anyone crossing the road.
  • Each collision occurred at a different part of the junction.
  • Collision 1 – a car collided with an unattended parked car in Mayfield Road.
  • Collision 2- a car stopped unexpectedly while travelling east – west through the junction, when the driver mistakenly reacted to a red light which did not apply to their direction of travel, resulting in following vehicles collided with each other and then it.
  • Collision 3 – a driver approaching a red light in Kirk Brae failed to react and stop in time and collided with the rear of a vehicle already waiting in the queue, pushing it into the rear of another vehicle, which was then pushed into the rear of a fourth vehicle.

There is no pattern to these collisions that would initiate a road safety intervention as part of the Council’s AIP process.

Road Safety – Speeds
The speed limit on Liberton Brae, Mayfield Road, Liberton Road and Kirk Brae is 30mph.  There are no current plans for permanent reductions in the speed limit on any of these roads.  Blackford Glen Road has a long established 20mph speed limit in place.

The Road Safety team undertakes bi-annual batches of traffic surveys at locations where speeding concerns have been raised.  Traffic data allows us to direct our resources to the locations where there is significant speed limit non-compliance. Recent traffic surveys have been undertaken at the following locations:

  • Liberton Brae, between Alnwickhill Road and Orchardhead Road, from 26 March to 1 April 2019.  A free flow average speed of 28.5mph was recorded.
  • Kirk Brae, between Orchardhead Road and Claverhouse Drive, from 29 March to 4 April 2019.  A free flow average speed of 29.7mph was recorded.

Both of these traffic survey results are within normal tolerance for a posted 30mph speed limit.

Road Safety – Pedestrian Crossing Improvements Programme
The Road Safety team manages the Council’s ongoing programme of pedestrian crossing improvements.  This delivers stand-alone crossing improvements, such as signalised puffin crossings and unsignalized zebra crossings, refuge islands and pavement build-outs.  A formal assessment and prioritisation system is used to evaluate locations and the crossing type most suitable for each location.  This system was approved by the Council’s Transport, Infrastructure and Environment Committee on 28 July 2009.  The programme does not deliver new signalised junctions or upgrades to existing junctions.

The base data which is used to assess if a location is suitable for a crossing is known as the PV2 value.  This is a nationally recognised value that indicates the number of passing vehicles and crossing pedestrians.  Pedestrian and vehicle counts are taken over the peak hours of a week day, from 7am to 10am and 3pm to 6pm, and avoiding school holidays or any other factors which might cause an abnormal result.

This base PV2 value is then adjusted to take account of local factors such as the age of those crossing, the composition and speed of passing traffic, the road width, the number of pedestrian accidents and the presence of nearby trip attractors such as schools, doctors’ surgeries, shops etc.

A location with an adjusted PV2 value of 1 or higher (2 or higher on a dual carriageway) would be considered for a puffin crossing, locations with a value of 0.3 or higher would be considered for a suite of measures that includes a zebra crossing, refuge island or pavement build-outs.  If a very low PV2 value is achieved, no additional crossing facilities may be recommended. 

Within the last three years, pedestrian crossing assessments have been undertaken at the following locations:

  • Mayfield Road, approximately 100m north of the Liberton Brae junction, on 20 March 2018.  An adjusted PV2 value of 0.216 was measured.
  • Liberton Brae, at the junction with Orchardhead Road and Tower Mains, on 20 March 2018. An adjusted PV2 value of 0.448 was measured.
  • Kirk Brae, at Double Hedges Road, on 29 May 2019.  An adjusted PV2 value of 0.026 was measured.

The locations surveyed on Mayfield Road and Kirk Brae did not therefore meet the required criteria for a pedestrian crossing facility.  It is, however, proposed to provide a non-signalised crossing improvement, such as a zebra crossing, refuge island or pavement build-outs on Liberton Brae, at Orchardhead Road and Tower Mains.  Further investigations will be undertaken to determine which would be the most appropriate option at this location.  It is currently anticipated that this pedestrian crossing improvement will be delivered within the 2022/23 financial year.

There is currently budget and staff resource capacity to progress between 10 and 15 crossing improvements concurrently, at an annual cost of around £200-250k.  The total budget available for the various road safety initiatives delivered throughout the city, including the crossing improvements programme, varies from year to year but is generally around £600-700k.

An update to the programme will be reported to the Policy and Sustainability Committee on 6 August and the updated programme will contain proposed improvements at 75 locations, representing a full work programme through to financial year 2024/25.

Provision of New Pedestrian Crossing Facilities
Established Council policy is to install signalised pedestrian crossing facilities at new signalised junctions, on all legs where there is a demand for pedestrians to cross.  In the past there has been a programme of work, with an identified budget, to retrofit pedestrian facilities at existing signalised junctions where they were missing.  However, this programme and budget were discontinued some years ago and this type of improvement is now only generally undertaken when junctions are being upgraded, either as part of a wider project or as part of the Traffic Signals team’s ongoing programme of traffic signals refurbishment work.

Spaces for People Programme
As part of the Spaces for People (SfP) programme, it is proposed to introduce temporary enhanced bus lane and cycle segregation provision along the A701 Liberton Road/Craigmillar Park/Mayfield Gardens corridor, commencing just north of this junction.

The junction is one of the top 20 locations identified by feedback submitted via Commonplace as a barrier to walking.  The SfP team still in the process of analysing the issues raised at each of these locations and considering whether there is a feasible and affordable intervention can be undertaken.  It is hoped to have this shortlisting work completed and to produce a list of publicly generated schemes within two weeks  There is, however, no current plan to take a temporary pedestrian enhancement forward at this junction as part of the SfP programme.

Google Streetview Images

Image 1 – Junction Layout
Image 2 – Liberton Brae
Image 3 – Blackford Glen Road
Image 4 – Mayfield Road
Image 5 – Liberton Road
Image 6 – Kirk Brae
Image 7 – Collision Locations

The Council’s formal response to the consultation on the proposed temporary changes to Comiston Road (Buckstone/Pentland Terrace).

Below (inc the linked file) is the Council’s formal response to the consultation on the  proposed temporary changes to Comiston Road (Buckstone/Pentland Terrace).

I have still to digest this fully, but it looks like the plans will progress unamended but in a phased manner. The speed limit will be reduced to 30mph (Good news!).

If you look at the linked file a great many comments were made, but the response does not always contain the detail I had hoped for. I am also disappointed that the Council has refused to view this plan alongside the Braid Road closure and demonstrate some “joined up thinking” in doing so.

Me: Will Braid Road remain closed? Has the interaction with Braid Road been fully considered?

Council: Braid Road will be considered separately on its own merits.

Thank you for your comments regarding the proposed emergency road measures on Comiston Road. Comments have been reviewed and a summary of comments is included in the attached assessment feedback form to the Council Incident Management Team (CIMT).  Following consideration by the CIMT on 17 July 2020 the proposals have been approved for implementation.

Officers will be monitoring all the temporary measures and will make adjustments as necessary to mitigate any impacts.

Initially, these measures will be implemented using road markings and temporary traffic management materials (such as those used on Old Dalkeith Road, and Crewe Road South) only, in order to implement the changes as soon as possible. We are in the process of appointing contractors and expect this work to commence during early August – though timelines may be subject to change. At this time there will be no changes to bus stops and the layout on street may differ from the approved designs at some locations.

Thereafter the Council will deliver the changes outlined in the designs in full. This delay is due to the limited availability of some of the required materials, including the ‘Greenwich Wand Orcas’ which will separate cycles from traffic, and the materials which will be used for several of the Bus Stops. We expect that these more robust measures will be implemented during Autumn/ Winter, though this may also be subject to change.

Further information about how the Council is implementing temporary road measures to support safe walking, wheeling  and cycling is available at


Spaces for People Team


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. 

Proposed– Local Town Centres – Morningside and Bruntsfield Town Centres

Not my Ward, but below is the information going out to local stakeholders in Morninghside/Bruntsfield about changes proposed to make the shopping area safer for pedestrians.

In Edinburgh, shopping and leisure uses are mainly provided in a network of centres distributed across the city. Out with the City Centre, town centres serve as a focal point for local communities providing a diverse mix of shopping facilities and other commercial and community services.

On 18 June the Scottish Government confirmed that, from 29 June, shops with outdoor entrances can reopen. To support this positive change, we are proposing an initial phase of measures targeted to quickly address some of the most pressing issues that people and businesses have told us about. These relate to the narrowness of pavements and street clutter which cause difficulties in achieving safe physical distancing.  

In this first phase of proposals we aim to create additional space on routes within Morningside and Bruntsfield  town centres by widening footways, removing guardrails and street clutter. To widen footways we need to suspend all parking places (apart from loading bays and Disabled persons’ parking places). The streets being considered for these proposals are illustrated in the attached map.   

The second phase of proposals, which we will share in the coming weeks, will focus on more strategic and complex measures relating to traffic reduction  and aiding cycling and public transport provision. Proposals will also align, where possible, with further announcements around the opening of food and drink establishments. We will continue to work with business representatives and individual businesses on how measures can best support town centres as part of the city’s economic recovery. It is essential that the needs of residents and businesses are taken into account as we progress measures benefitting the health, wellbeing and prosperity of the city and region.

The proposed measures  are part of an overall emergency requirement to re-designate key parts of the road network to facilitate safe travel while meeting physical distancing requirements.  Such measures are required urgently to help prevent people from becoming ill or coming to harm by infection from COVID-19 whilst implementing physical distancing requirements.  

These measures will be implemented under emergency delegated decision-making powers using a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order.

Given the urgent nature of these works, normal expectations about community consultations cannot be fulfilled. We urge you to get in touch within five working days or earlier should you want to raise any issues. If you do not have any concerns it would be beneficial if you could also email to let us know.  This means we will have responses from all stakeholders and this helps to inform the process.

Please note that the deadline for submitting comments is 5.00pm on Friday 26 June 2020.

If the proposal is agreed for implementation, formal publicity will then be undertaken so that local people are aware of the changes. A dedicated inbox will help us to manage any feedback around proposals.

All comments will be reviewed and summarised in the assessment feedback note to the Council Incident Management Team.  Please note that we will not be able to respond to individual emails.

Proposed Vodafone 5G Base Station Installation at 185 Redford Road

Vodafone have been in touch to say they plan to install a 5G mast at 185 Redford Road. The alternative locations are listed below – all were found to be less suitable by Vodafone. Please get in touch if you would like more details – Scott.Arthur@Edinburgh.Gov.UK.

Option:Site Type:Site Address:Reason for not choosing site:
AExisting StreetworksTEF Site Ref 9327, Redford Road SW, Edinburgh, EH13 9PWAlthough currently a shared structure providing 2G, 3G and 4G coverage for both operators, there is no comparable streetworks style solution that can accommodate 5G antennas for both Vodafone and Telefonica. It would require significant redevelopment and a completely new mast of substantial width and height, as well as taking up the majority of land at its base. Therefore it is considered that redevelopment would be inappropriate within the streetscene, compromise pedestrian movements and impact on highway safety.
BStreetworksRedford Road SW, Edinburgh, EH13 9PWTo avoid network interference there needs to be vertical and horizontal separation between masts. In this instance 16 metres of horizontal separation is required between the existing streetworks style mast that will continue to be operated by Telefonica and the proposed Vodafone mast. Therefore co-location within this 16 metre radius is not technically viable and so is discounted.
CStreetworksOxgangs Farm Grove, Oxgangs Farm Drive, Oxgangs Farm Avenue, Redford Road, Dreghorn Drive, Dreghorn Gardens, Dreghorn Place, Dreghorn Park, The Gallolee, Edinburgh, EH13There are houses fronting both sides of this road, the pavements are narrow and there are regular driveways and pathways for some of the properties. Given the purely residential setting, we consider there are no opportunities to site a street works style proposal on this road as any proposal would compromise pedestrian movements, access arrangements to properties and would also likely impact on highway safety. In addition, the scale of this proposed installation would be out of keeping with the scale of this street.
DExisting Telecoms SiteEE and 3 Site Ref 57566: Travel Lodge, 47 Dreghorn Link, Edinburgh, EH13 9QRThis location is too far removed from the search area to provide the required level of coverage and capacity in which it would impact upon the neighbouring base station sites in the wider network. Therefore, this site has to be discounted as it does not meet the operator’s technical requirements.
ERooftopCairndean House, 185 Redford Road, Edinburgh, EH13 9PNThis building was considered, however was determined to be too low to host a sensitively designed base station. When taking into account the roof shape, overall building height, as well as its surrounding context, a rooftop proposal of significant height would be required to meet the operator’s technical requirements. It is considered that such a proposal would be out of keeping with the host building.
FStreetworksStreet Works on South Pavement of Redford Road SW, Edinburgh, EH13 9PNThere is insufficient space available on this stretch of pavement as the siting and dimensions of a street works style base station would restrict pedestrian movements to unacceptably low levels.
GStreetworksDreghorn Link SW, Edinburgh, EH13 9PNGiven the height and maturity of the trees found next to this site, this natural clutter would prevent the effective propagation of radio signals towards the target area and so this location had to be discounted.
HGreenfieldDreghorn Barracks, Redford Road, Edinburgh, EH13 9QWGiven the height and maturity of the trees found next to this site, this natural clutter would prevent the effective propagation of radio signals towards the target area and so this location had to be discounted.

Briefing – Plans to reopen Edinburgh’s schools in August.

Below is a briefing from the City of Edinburgh Council’s “Executive Director for Communities and Families” on his plans to reopen our capital’s schools in August. Firstly you will see that there is still a great deal uncertainty where how much time kids will spend in class is concerned – we only know they will have “full days” and that “33% of a school’s roll will be engaged in in-school learning”.

With the Council facing a huge black hole in funding (largely due to Covid-19), the briefing also touches on financial pressures. As I said at a meeting of Bonaly Primary School Parent Council yesterday evening, as we come out of the crisis the Council and Scottish Government must find a way of protecting education if we are do avoid lasting damage to a whole generation’s life chances. The same point is made by Jack McConnell here.

The following briefing provides the latest position on our plans to reopen schools in August. I will be writing to all parents today on the same basis.
First of all, I want to assure you that all arrangements being put in place are designed to ensure the safest return to schools for our pupils and staff.
Following the Scottish Government’s announcement that schools should open a week earlier next term, we’ve made some minor adjustments to our session dates for 2020/2021. As such, our schools will reopen to pupils from Wednesday 12 August. (The two preceding days will be used as in-service days for staff.)

As schools will start the session one week earlier than originally published, the summer holidays in 2021 will consequently begin one week earlier, with the session finishing on Friday 25 June 2021.

The Scottish Government has advised that this month should be used as preparation for reopening schools in August and part of this will involve some children being invited into school for special transition experiences. Those children who require this support will be contacted by their school and appointments will be made with families to attend during June.

In accordance with Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland guidance, social distancing, hygiene regimes and risk assessments will be essential to keep our children and staff safe. This means that not all children will be able to return to school at the same time.

All arrangements must take account of social distancing, staff availability and circulation routes as well as hygiene and infection control arrangements. Rotas will be arranged to ensure that all children and young people receive a blended model of in-home and in-school learning. Headteachers will be in contact parents/ carers prior to 24 June to inform them which days their child will be in school.

Teaching will take place through Mondays to Thursdays with all children attending for whole days and Fridays used by staff to support home learning. Limited key worker childcare support will continue throughout the week, including Fridays during normal school hours. All children will attend for whole days.

To enable social distancing, from the start of the session it is anticipated that 33% of a school’s roll will be engaged in in-school learning and when and, where conditions allow, arrangements will be made to maximise the proportion of in-school learning.

In Early Learning (Nursery) and Primary Schools, children will be grouped together to enable family members to attend school on the same full day. In Secondary Schools, pupils will be grouped together either by year group or family group depending on the individual arrangements made by each secondary school and each child in the rota will attend for a full day.

Pupils at special schools will be in for 50% of the week with the majority offering two full days in school and the rest as home learning.

There will be a city-wide approach to catering and building opening, with the details of the arrangements at each school reflecting local circumstances and Headteachers will be in contact with parents with details before the end of the session.

These new arrangements will result in budget pressures and consideration is being given as to how these can be offset. This will be covered formally at Committee on 26 June.

I’d like to end by reassuring you that every effort is being made to minimise the disruption to our pupils’ learning. I believe the new blended model of learning represents an improvement on the current home learning arrangements and, though far from ideal, we will review, refine and improve the arrangements as conditions allow.

Executive Director for Communities and Families

Scottish Labour’s SEC Notes – 6th of June 2020

Chair’s Welcome
Welcome to Jackie Bailey MSP, Jenny Marra MSP, Ian Murray MP & Baroness Meta Ramsay in their new SEC roles.

General Election 2019 Review
David Conway & Linda Stewart presented their review which primarily focused on the experience of candidates (inc sitting MPs). A survey was also issued to CLPs, Trade Unions, affiliates and staff.

  1. What went well (in order) – Locals activist support, optimism (manifesto), events, hustings, social media, fundraising, TU support & national organisation.
  2. Problems (in order) – Voter targeting, lack of preparation nationally, infighting, unrealistic manifesto, poor manifesto communication (lacked clear message), Scottish narrative squeezed, poor internal communication & candidate selection.
  3. Popular Themes (in order) – Austerity, WASPI, New Green Deal, nationalisation, local issues/candidate & NHS.
  4. Problems in the doorstep (in order) – Jeremy Corbyn, Brexit, Independence (position not clear), manifesto (too many policies and now clear message) & broadband policy.
  5. What needs to change (strategic) – We need a clear message, better research, better targeting and less infighting.
  6. What needs to change (operational) – Better support for candidates, clearer strategy in Scotland, better training, select candidates earlier, organisers need better local knowledge (party needs to listen to local members more) and take clearer ownership of disciplinary issues in Scotland.

It was agreed that these finding should be considered alongside the Open Labour review which should be published next week. Jackie Bailey will discuss the review with the newly form election team and will report back to the SEC.

Away day agenda item: Constitution
The focus of this was Richard Leonard’s paper on the constitution, and Ian Murray MPs suggested amendment. The key addition being:

“Scottish Labour, does not support independence. We believe that the 2021 elections must be about electing a Government and a parliament that will dedicate its entire focus to rebuilding Scotland’s economy, public services and communities after the devastating impact of Covid-19. That work must be the focus of the next Scottish Government and so we will be going into that election in 2021 with a Scottish Labour party position that is not for a second referendum.”

Ian Murray MP

Richard was clear that Labour’s position can’t be about defending the status quo, but must be about continuing democratic reform (devolution of power from Westminster & Holyrood to communities). The policy should be set by the party in Scotland. Richard made the point that the lasting impact Covid-19 will have on the economy (esp youth unemployment) and mental health in Scotland, will mean that the constitution must come second (at least) in Scotland’s political discourse. Labour must have a clear message on the constitution, but rebuilding lives and the economy in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis must be paramount.

This was followed by a discussion about Richard’s paper, and Ian’s amendment (which Richard was happy to accept). There was a move to delay a decision, but the SEC agreed to back the paper with Ian Murray’s amendments.

SelectionsScottish Parliament Constituency Selections
In total, 21 seats from the early selection tranche have candidates. The following are still outstanding:

  1. On pause we have – Dundee City East; Eastwood (AWS); Glasgow Pollok (AWS); Kirkcaldy (AWS); Motherwell & Wishaw (AWS); Renfrewshire North & West (AWS); and, Uddingston & Bellshill.
  2. Yet to begin – Almond Valley; Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley (AWS); Cowdenbeath; Dunfermline (AWS); Glasgow Anniesland (AWS) Glasgow Kelvin (AWS); and, Midlothian North & Musselburgh.

We also have 35 seats not in the early-selection tranche that need candidates: Aberdeen Donside; Aberdeen South & North Kincardine; Aberdeenshire East; Aberdeenshire West; Angus North & Mearns; Angus South; Argyll & Bute; Ayr; Banffshire & Buchan Coast; Caithness, Sutherland & Ross; Clackmannanshire & Dunblane; Falkirk West; Galloway & West Dumfries; Inverness & Nairn; Kilmarnock & Irvine Valley; Linlithgow
Mid Fife & Glenrothes; Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale
Moray; Na h-Eileanan an Iar; North East Fife; and, Orkney Islands. CLPs have yet to be consulted on AWS status of these seats.

Inability to hold face-to-face meetings is a real challenge to completing the selection process. The party is setting up software to run selections online. It was therefore recommended that Scottish parliamentary selections re-start from July 2020 starting with the paused first tranche seats.

Selections – Holyrood Regional List Selections
These should get underway in August. Jackie Bailey will consider how BAME, LGBT+, disabled and female candidates can be better supported in the selection process. In the longer-term, it was agreed that The Gordon Aikman Leadership Programme (or similar) should be restarted to develop candidates from the widest possible diversity of backgrounds.

Selections – By-election Selections
A number of by-elections are in the pipeline:

  1. Livingston South (West Lothian) – 1st Oct 2020
  2. Ellon and District (Aberdeenshire) – 1st Oct 2020
  3. Leaderdale and Melrose (Scottish Borders) – 29th Oct 2020
  4. Kincorth/Nigg/Cove (Aberdeen City Council) – 5th Nov 2020
  5. Aird and Loch Ness (Highland Council) – 5th Nov 2020
  6. Craigentinny and Duddingston (Edinburgh City) – 12th Nov 2020
  7. Thorniewood (North Lanarkshire) – 19th Nov 2020
  8. Fortissat (North Lanarkshire) – 19th Nov 2020
  9. Perth City North (Perth and Kinross) – 26th Nov 2020
  10. Perth City South (Perth and Kinross) – 26th Nov 2020
  11. Clackmannanshire East (Clackmannanshire) – TBC
  12. North Isles (Orkney Islands) – TBC

To select candidates the party will use the same software platform that is being used for Holyrood Regional List Selections.

Selections – SEC Elections
Due to the Covid-19 crisis and the 2021 Holyrood election, it was agreed to defer elections to the Scottish Executive Committee for all sections until after the Scottish Parliament elections next year. This means the new SEC would be endorsed by Scottish Conference in Spring 2022 and a SEC Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, and Treasurer would be elected at its first meeting in May 2022.

Scottish Conference
Scottish Labour Conference was due to take place 23–25 October. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis a provisional hold had been extended on venue and accommodation without going to contract. Nonetheless, it was agreed to postpone the traditional “in person” meeting. The party will arrange an online alternative to provide a platform for members, affiliates and elected reps to engage with some of the policy and political discussions which conference provides.

Rather than residents mapping active travel suggestions, the Council should be mapping its progress!

A few weeks ago the Council asked for ideas from the public on how to make walking and cycling safer in Scotland’s capital city – the aim was “quick implementation”.

They received over 200 responses, including a survey from me which was completed by 300+ local people. Rather than respond to these suggests, the Council have now asked residents to map their suggestions. Given that we are now 10 weeks into lock-down, surely we should be seeing real action? Rather than residents mapping suggestions, the Council should be mapping results!

I mailed the Council on the 14th of May asking what actions were due to be undertaken in my Ward – 20 days later I have had no reply.

We were recently told “segregated cycle-ways are set to be introduced on busy routes to Edinburgh’s two main hospitals“. The map below shows how much extra protection a nurse (like my wife) cycling from the middle of my Ward to the Royal Infirmary would get as a result of this measure. We can do better than this.

Please use the mapping tool in the hope that the Council will act to make my Ward safer for everyone. Below is a briefing on how it works.

As part of the Council’s plans to deliver short and long-term measures to make it easier and safer for people to get around our streets for essential trips and exercise, we’re today (Friday 29 May) launching an online mapping tool called ‘Commonplace’.

Since the Policy and Sustainability Committee approved the report setting out criteria for measures, we have received around 200 suggestions for road closures, widened pavements, segregated cycle lanes and other possible actions from across the city. These are helping to shape our plans for interventions over the next weeks and months.

We’re now asking people to help us identify further temporary measures across the city that will have the greatest benefit to public health, and that we can implement quickly.

Suggestions will be added to a list of projects that we’re already assessing for quick implementation. All feedback received so far has been recorded and will be used along with responses to the Commonplace tool to inform decisions on prioritising further measures.

While we welcome every response, we won’t be able to deliver all the improvements suggested, with any work dependent on available funding, procurement of materials and the availability of contractors. We’ll soon be sharing information on schemes that have been suggested, alongside those that are being progressed, on our website.

About Commonplace
Provided by Sustrans, Commonplace is an online mapping tool specifically designed to capture feedback on suggestions for temporary road measures in neighbourhoods across the city in response to Covid-19.

The tool will be open until Monday 29 June and anyone can use it to highlight specific areas on an interactive map and provide feedback on barriers they’ve experienced, as well as identify improvements. This, along with ideas already shared with us, will help shape our efforts over the coming weeks and months.

If you have already sent suggestions for temporary measures you would like to see, there is no need to resend them. All suggestions are being recorded and used to inform the selection of interventions around the city.

Immediate measures
As you know, a programme of changes is already well underway across the city. In the members’ brief issued earlier this week we shared plans for the next phase of improvements.

As an update to this earlier briefing, we can confirm that the following measures will now be in place from today (Friday 29 May):

  • partial closure of Stanley Street and Hope Lane between Stanley Street and Christian Grove to traffic provides a low traffic corridor for people to walk and cycle and access nearby green spaces like Figgate Park for exercise
  • closure of Warriston Road to through traffic provides a wide pedestrian and cyclist-friendly space leading to the access for the North Edinburgh path Network. Access to the allotments and Warriston Crematorium will be maintained via Ferry Road.

Further information

Spaces for People programme email 

Briefing – Recycling centres in Edinburgh are reopening and special uplifts are resuming.

Below is a briefing from the Council on their plan to reopen recycling centres (by appointment only) from the 1st of June. Special uplifts will also resume.

We’re reopening all our recycling centres from Monday 1 June on an appointment only basis and restarting the special uplift service.

These services were suspended in March due to staff shortages and physical distancing requirements but with enough crew members now available and physical distancing arrangements in place, recycling centres can reopen and special uplift collections can resume safely. However, note that there will be changes to the way in which they are managed.

Recycling centres
Recycling centres will reopen on an appointment only basis on Monday 1 June. Residents will need to book a time slot using a new online booking system on our website, which will be available from the afternoon of Thursday 28 May. Our contact centre staff are continuing to focus on emergency calls so it won’t be possible to book an appointment over the phone.

We’re expecting our sites to be busy and the booking system will help to minimise crowding and help staff and customers to maintain physical distancing.

Traffic management systems will be put in place at each location to help manage queues. This includes reverting to the old entrance at our Seafield recycling centre on Fillyside Road for the first three weeks. We’re writing to local residents who may be affected to advise them of this and the temporary local diversions and road closures which will be in place.

Traffic management signage will also be in place in streets around all sites as well as signs to ensure residents are aware that they must book an appointment to use a recycling centre.

Further guidance:

  • Only residents of Edinburgh can book an appointment. When doing so, they should consider:
    • if their visit is necessary
    • if they can store their waste safely at home.
  • They should be prepared to queue before entering the site.
  • Only cars are permitted – no vans or trailers.
  • Our staff won’t be able to help unload cars at the site, so people should plan to only bring what they can carry.
  • We may need to close our sites at short notice.
  • Anyone who turns up without a booking will be turned away.

Time slots are available on a first come, first served basis and anyone who turns up without a booking will be turned away.

Appointments are limited to one per household for the first two weeks of re-opening.

Special uplifts
We’re restarting our special uplift service on 1 June and will be accepting online bookings for the collection of bulky items from Thursday 28 May with a maximum of five items per household.

To ensure the safety of our crews and the public, we won’t be able to collect any items from inside homes.

The special uplift service is expected to be busy during the first few weeks, so there may be a wait for collections – please check the council website for updates.

Residents can book an uplift on our website though not currently over the phone – allowing our contact centre staff to deal with emergency calls. Special uplifts are charged at £5 per item and details of what we can and can’t collect will be available online.

We hope that resuming special uplifts will help alleviate pressure on recycling centres once they reopen.