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.