Back to school
Download now - Guidance for remote learning in Highland
Remote learning update
Arrangements for remote learning for learners who are not in school will be affected by these new plans, and schools will contact parents/carers to inform them of the changes which are necessary. Because our teaching staff will be carrying out more face to face learning, our provision of remote learning is likely to change, though of course our schools will continue to provide as high quality remote learning as possible. We know that our learners and families have been very patient and understanding as we have coped with the pandemic and remote learning, and we ask for your understanding as schools work on the very complex demands of this next phase of the return to school.
We have updated our remote learning guidance and have added more resources to support learners and families. To support all S1-S3 pupils during the return to school, the Digital Learning Team in Highland have created a live learning space on the Highland Schools Digital Hub. All pupils, staff and parents have access to this webpage and the resource remains a key support for digital learning in Highland.
Your own school will be in touch in the next few days to share their plans for how more in-school time will be balanced with continued remote learning, which will continue to be the main type of learning for most secondary school learners until the Easter break.
Digital learning in Highland
The Highland Council was one of the first local authorities in Scotland recognised to develop a Schools Digital Learning Hub, which provides a resource for staff, parents and pupils to support home learning.
Our Education Improvement Team has been leading the way in the development of our digital learning platform. Prior to Covid-19, we had an estate of 27,000 Chromebooks that were already a part of our ICT in Learning Strategy. During lockdown, seeing the closure of our schools since March, pupils were able to transition to learn remotely from home.
A daily programme of professional learning for all staff was put in place and there has been an increasing engagement with G-Suite for Education as a platform. G-Suite is a free collection of productivity tools offered by technology company Google and includes Google Docs, Gmail, Google Classroom, Google Meet, Hangouts and many more.
Our approach to digital learning, highlighting the success and innovation of our digital leaning strategy and our ‘Learning During Lockdown’ video were featured in the June/July 2020 issue of Public Sector Executive Magazine (P64-66).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on our education and learning
What is being prioritised for recovery of learning?
Our first priority is health and wellbeing. We want to make sure that children are OK in themselves and not over-stressed or distressed in school. This is because mental health and wellbeing is important, but also because high stress makes it harder for children to learn. The decision, made by the Government, is that we should continue to cover all subjects and make sure we include literacy, numeracy and maths content to help develop learning.
How will you assess what my child needs?
Teachers will set small tasks as part of the ordinary course of teaching that will help them see what children know but also their level of skill in using that knowledge. We will also have conversations with children to see how they are doing and observe them in class throughout the school day.
Where children have more complex needs with learning, schools also draw on the advice of specialists such as speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, primary mental health workers and educational psychologists. You can access these professionals too by contacting the Just Ask helpline. The phone line is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1pm to 4pm, on 0300 303 1365.
Is there new learning? Or will the focus remain on catching up and consolidating?
The answer to this will depend on what the children need and what teachers learn from assessing those needs. Teachers differentiate learning so that each child has a sufficient challenge but also that noone gets left behind. Schools will do their best to be aware of children’s experiences and listen to what they have to say about the learning and make adjustments accordingly.
Is my child behind with their learning?
Lockdown will have been different as an experience for every child and family, so what we expect is an uneven pattern of strengths and gaps. Schools will be carefully assessing to understand what each child’s needs are. Teachers are skilled at assessing through the ordinary course of lessons and observing children and their work. It can be hard, but by avoiding the urge to make comparisons with other children in the classroom (who may seem “ahead” or “behind”) that will help your child in their learning as everyone is different. It is very important that your child does not feel they are struggling with school work, or that they are finding it unchallenging either. If this goes on for more than a few days, then please do get in touch with the school to let them know.
My child is in Gaelic Medium Education – what does this mean for them?
Children who attend sgoil-àraich to P3 follow a total immersion model with P4 onwards following an immersion model. Since the return to school, teachers have taken steps to ensure that children and their young learners language development needs are being met as part of the recovery curriculum. Priority to meeting these needs will be given during literacy activities as well as other curricular areas with a focus on talking and listening experiences and interactions.
My child has additional support needs, what help will they have?
Schools will make assessments in the course of teaching and learning and, if needed, will ask for you and your child’s consent to consult specialists such as speech and language therapists, primary mental health workers, educational psychologists or others. Some children with additional support needs may have been affected by lockdown more than others and it will take time and discussion to work this out including input from you and your child.
My child has additional support needs, will we still be having child plan meetings or similar?
Yes. The duties on local authorities to assess, plan for and support additional support needs, and to consult with children and parents have not changed.
What has changed is that every school completes a risk assessment to determine how best to hold and manage meetings so we are in line with public health advice. Therefore, there may be differences in how meetings occur from place to place. Your school will be able to provide more information.
My child is in nursery and due to go to school next autumn, will they be ready?
The Curriculum for Excellence sets out that nursery and Primary 1 form a single stage, so you don’t have to be “ready” for school. Your child will not experience a huge change from nursery to school, school will be ready for them no matter where they are with their learning and development. Schools always do transition programmes and planning for children starting Primary 1 and give extra thought and consultation as to what is needed.
My child is in P7, will they be ready for secondary school?
Yes, and secondary school will be ready for them too! Transition to secondary school can be a big moment for some children and we always put in place activities, and support systems, in the summer term that help with the changes. Schools will be taking steps to help children prepare for the move, but also to make sure that secondary teachers are aware of each child’s learning and needs so that the transition can be as smooth as possible.