FAQs from Pupil Support Team

There have been a few common themes in many of the questions the Pupil Support Team have been asked by parents and carers over the past few weeks. They have shared a few Frequently Asked Questions with general responses in the hope that we find them useful…

Do we really have to do all the assigned work?

The Scottish government has made it clear that parents and carers are not expected to be teachers, nor to home educate in the formal sense. The needs and circumstances of families will vary considerably depending on their child’s specific needs, household circumstances and their knowledge and confidence.

The school is seeking to provide materials and activities that would allow parents and carers to support children to cover the same core learning that they would at school but it is clear that not all parents, carers and children will be in a position to complete all this work. Your children’s well-being and that of your family comes first.

How much work should we do each day? What kind of timetable should we follow?

Try to set up a regular timetable that works for you and your children. Make sure you build in time for snacks, breaks and physical activity as well as more formal learning. Even if a parent or carer is available all day, it won’t necessarily be practical or necessary to expect children be work from 9.00am–3.25pm every day. Government guidance suggests 3-4 hours a day or 15 hours over a week.

How can we help ensure our children’s mental health and well-being?

The Pupil Support team have shared advice in their weekly emails to families. While we are physically distancing, social closeness remains more important than ever and many of us are staying in touch with online chats, video calls or by telephone.

Where can I find the learning for my child’s class or year?

Work is updated every Friday and the details are posted in the weekly bulletin. Click here for a recent example.

If you are having trouble accessing and navigating Microsoft Teams, this guide may be of help.

If you are still stuck following use of the guide then do contact us.

Are there not better ways that we could manage online learning?

The school had to move very quickly to put in place the best systems it could to support remote learning based on existing capacities. There are undoubtedly many things that could and should be improved but there are also many other demands on teachers and support staff, just as there are on parents and carers. Different schools all entered this crisis with slightly different capacities to support remote learning based, for example, on whether their teams included specialist digital support staff and how widely they had already rolled out digital learning platforms such as Teams. Where schools had strong pre-existing capacities, they have been able to adapt very quickly in some cases and there may be things we can learn from them. The school cannot though simply replicate what other schools may be doing overnight where this is based on different pre-existing capacities or where the school has made decisions based on the age appropriateness of materials and learning platforms.

What are teachers doing now?

Many teachers are supporting and caring for their own children. Some are working in the hubs set up to teach the children of essential workers. Some are out delivering food parcels to families. A lot of time is spent supporting parents and children who are having issues and responding to their questions and suggestions. They are also of course preparing and posting the learning materials on the different platforms we are using. Teachers are also learning about and experimenting with new tools and ways of connecting with students. This all means that time to make improvements to our remote learning systems or for individual contact with children is tight.

Couldn’t teachers run video classes?

The school has now provided some training and support to teachers to help them make their online learning materials more engaging.
There are significant concerns from some teachers and the EIS teaching union about live streaming video lessons from teacher’s homes. Where other schools have run such classes, attendance has sometimes been poor and there is a very real risk that basing learning around online video conferencing could further exclude children with more limited access to the internet. These children already risk suffering disproportionately as a result of the school closure and preventing a widening of the educational attainment gap is one of the school’s primary concerns at this time.

When will school reopen?

We don’t know when the school will reopen but Scottish Government ministers have indicated that it isn’t likely to be open to pupils before the new school year in August 2020. When school does restart, we should not assume that all children will return at the same time and resume classes as normal. Indications of when schools in Scotland may begin to reopen will probably come first from the Scottish Government but specific arrangements will then need to follow in updates from Edinburgh Council and Trinity Academy. There will almost inevitably be some delay between the announcement and the release of specific details of how any changes will be implemented. Please also remember that because education is a devolved matter, UK government announcements regarding the reopening of schools have no direct impact on the situation in Scotland.

How can schools reopen while maintaining physical distancing to keep everyone safe?

No decisions have been made about how schools will reopen but it is quite possible there may be some changes to how many children can attend school and classes at the same time. Like you, we look forward to some clarity in the coming weeks regarding the school situation and what a planned return might look like.

Constitution

Trinity Academy Parent Council’s constitution has been in place for a number of years, since the Parent Council was first set up around 2006. The Parent Council has reviewed the constitution and is suggesting that a few changes be made. These are explained here.

The proposed changes will be considered at the AGM on 9 October and, if they are agreed at that meeting, the constitution will be amended.

  1. The original constitution used the terms “Parent Forum” and “Parent Council” so we are proposing adding definitions of these terms to the constitution to make it more easy to understand.
  2. We are proposing some changes about membership of the Parent Council. These will clarify that members of the Parent Council would be selected at the annual meeting of parents and would be selected for one year only. Co-opted members would also be invited to join the Parent Council for 1 year only. To be selected for membership of the Parent Council, we are proposing that parents/carers need only “inform” the Parent Council Chair rather than have to send a letter. This means that nominations for membership can be made ahead of an annual meeting and also on the night. We are also proposing that if a member does not attend 3 consecutive meetings without reason/apologies they will be deemed to have retired from the Parent Council.
  3. We are proposing removing some of the original references to nominations being made to the headteacher which were only required for the first Parent Council when there was no Chair to receive nominations.
  4. We are proposing clarifying the voting arrangements at Parent Council meetings. Only members would have a vote and decisions will be passed by a simple majority of Parent Council members present at the meeting. The Chair would have a casting vote which would be used in the event of a tie.
  5. We propose clarifying that the Secretary must take minutes of meetings.

If you have any questions about these proposed changes, you can let us know before the annual meeting on 9 October by emailing us at trinityparentcouncil@googlemail.com. Or come along on 9 October to take part in the discussion.

Inspire Courses

Inspire courses provide an opportunity for secondary school students to be introduced to engineering and science through project work to get a flavour of what to expect at University first year undergraduate level.

Photos from an Inspire event showing Lego mindstorms and code

During three days at a leading UK university students learn how to manage a project, develop research techniques, carry out problem solving and write reports. They also hear about university life from lecturers, admissions tutors and post-grad students.

The photographs above were taken by one of our S6 students who took part in an Inspire course in summer 2018 at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Minutes from our meeting on the 13th December 2016 where we discussed the HMIE Inspection, Attainment, School Values, Buildings and Health and Safety and the creation of a Community Relations Database

Deputation from Trinity Academy Parent Council to the Education, Children and Families Committee

This week we issued a written delegation to the City of Edinburgh Council regarding the ‘Wave 4’ programme for refurbishment of Edinburgh schools and lobbying for additional investment in the school.

As a result, the meeting of the Education Children and Families Committee on Tuesday this week passed the amendment summarised below:

“To further agree to offer to establish a working group at … Trinity Academy … and that improvement options be reported back to Committee in March 2017”

We felt this was necessary because there are a few specific areas where the school is already unable to accommodate its existing roll and these accommodation pressures are going to increase in the near future as larger numbers are expected from feeder primaries. Our further concern is that during the long process of preparing Wave 4 plans, investment in the school has been significantly reduced.

We are very pleased to have the chance to work directly with the Council officials on this and look forward to seeing what improvement options they propose to the committee in March next year.

A copy of the letter is available for download in our documents archive.