Independent schools which have provided online lockdown learning are preparing for a full return to the classroom in August.
Schools including the High School of Dundee, Kilgraston School and Lathallan School will welcome pupils back five days a week while the majority of Scotland’s pupils will attend part-time, as little as one day a week.
Having offered virtual classes alongside independent home learning since March, the fee-paying schools are rearranging their estates to allow children to maintain social distancing.
This is the main reason that we have been keen to push for a full return to school in August.”
Lise Hudson, High School of Dundee
Lise Hudson, rector of the High School of Dundee, said that over 750 live lessons a week were delivered during lockdown.
She said: “We tried to give our young people as close to a full time table as they would normally have to bring in routine.”
The result, she said, had received an overwhelmingly positive response from parents.
Face-to-face online teaching
Although pupils received face-to-face teaching online, she said it was not as easy for teachers to monitor wellbeing.
She said: “This is the main reason that we have been keen to push for a full return to school in August.”
The whole estate has been assessed, rooms reconfigured and it is proposed to operate bubbles for younger pupils and block timetables for older pupils.
With pupils from as far afield as Glenrothes and Edzell, transport is a challenge still be tackled but it is hoped all arrangements will be finalised by next week.
Mrs Hudson praised the efforts of parents, her own staff and teachers across the country.
She said: “The demands and expectations on us are significant but the bottom line is, as with all teachers irrespective of what sector they are in, we are working hard to do the best we can for the kids in our care.”
Kilgraston School pupils at home in Mexico have been getting up at 2am to log onto live lessons.
The Perthshire girls’ school had to quickly get its boarders home when lockdown was announced as far afield as Turkey, China, Hong Kong and Nigeria.
Headmistress Dorothy MacGinty said: “The senior girls have been on a full timetable and the teachers are doing face-to-face teaching with classes.”
Full risk assessment
Assemblies have also continued and Mrs MacGinty now looks forward to welcoming all back in August whether the social distancing requirement remains at two metres or is reduced.
She said: “We have done a full risk assessment. We can fit everyone in and that’s with current distancing which might be reduced to one metre by August.
“Some activities will be limited, things like drama and music we will not be able to operate as we normally would but we can adapt.”
They are missing their teachers, the whole routine of school.”
Dorothy MacGinty, Kilgraston School
Pupils had engaged well with online learning, she said but added: “It’s not the same as face-to-face contact and sharing things with friends. They are missing their teachers, the whole routine of school.”
Lathallan School will reopen to all junior and senior school pupils on August 20.
With an average of 12 pupils per class and 60 acres of ground at Brotherton Castle, the Johnshaven school said it can safely accommodate youngsters while maintaining social distancing.
Many lessons will move outdoors, with the school’s outdoor learning spaces including a treehouse classroom and on-site farm, cited as among its key strengths by Education Scotland.
The health and well-being of all our pupils and staff is our number one priority.”
Richard Toley, Lathallan School
Headmaster Richard Toley said: “This will be pivotal to our on-going plans but we will also be redesigning classroom space within Brotherton Castle to meet Scottish Government guidance.
“The health and well-being of all our pupils and staff is our number one priority and this is pivotal to the planning process of a safe return to the classroom.
Since March, a large portion of its classes have been delivered by live video lessons, which will continue for those unable to return in August.