No immediate plans to reopen schools, health secretary says

National media reports suggesting schools could soon reopen as part of moves to ease the lockdown have been dismissed by Holyrood politicians.

Hundreds of pupils across Shetland are being taught at home, accessing online services including the web-based “Glow” system in place of attending school.

The Scottish government has issued advice on home learning after health secretary Jeane Freeman played down weekend reports that claimed schools might open “in the next few weeks”.

Ms Freeman highlighted supposed plans for a three-stage approach to lifting lockdown, following the claims that schools might open soon, and suggested it was not an approach that would be followed in Scotland.

She said: “These are not plans that the Scottish government have seen, and from what we have read they are not plans we would currently endorse.”

Ms Freeman said the Scottish government was committed to publishing its “initial thinking” on how Scotland “plots our way forward”.

“We confirmed only three days ago that the present lockdown remains in place for another three weeks. We will use that time to assess the evidence and the options before we make any further decisions.”

New home schooling guidance from the SNP administration has been issued the week after Shetland Islands Council offered its own tips.

The guidance has been developed by the Scottish government and Education Scotland, with advice and input from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) and other agencies.

Three main areas are covered:

• Learning and teaching at home, including support for digital learning, children who are likely to be disproportionately impacted, and learners with additional support needs;

• Parental involvement and engagement – this includes details of support and how local authorities or schools will require a different approach to being updated on a child’s development;

• Support for teachers and school leaders – including advice on learning resources, supporting pupils’ and staff health and wellbeing, and on leading colleagues and teams during this period.

Extraordinary dedication

Deputy First Minister John Swinney later stated: “Given the unprecedented circumstances, we cannot predict when schools in Scotland will reopen. However, our focus is that while schools are closed, learning continues, and we all have a role to play.

“Local authorities, schools, teachers and practitioners know their learners really well and have shown extraordinary dedication and professionalism in adapting and making decisions in the best interests of the children and young people.

“While we do not expect teachers, parents and families to replicate schools or classrooms, we are committed to working with all partners in Scotland’s education system to protect pupils’ wellbeing, and ensure learning can continue in an appropriate way, wherever possible.

“The guidance is aimed at those working in our education system. We are working closely with the National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) on further advice, aimed specifically at parents and carers, which will be published in the coming days.”

A raft of educational content for pupils has been aired on the BBC Scotland channel, as well as iPlayer and online to help plug any learning gap caused by the enforced school closure.

Its “Bitesize” learning content is aimed at specifically at pupils north of the border covering maths, English, science and social subjects for primary and secondary pupils.


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