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Face-to-face teaching vital if schools close again, says Fife councillor

Pupils will need face-to-face contact with teachers if schools close again, says Councillor Jonny Tepp.

More clarity must be given about delivery of online face-to-face teaching in Fife if schools are closed again by lockdown, according to a councillor.

Face-to-face contact is important, said Tay Bridgehead member Jonny Tepp, for teachers to gauge children’s understanding and help them work through difficult problems.

But the Liberal Democrat fears Fife Council has “no strong view on the important question” of the role of pupil-teacher relationships in education.

The local authority said that comprehensive guidance has been shared with all schools on planning and delivering live lessons.

Mr Tepp had asked the local authority’s Labour and SNP-led administration to spell out its aspirations for delivery of online face-to-face teaching for senior pupils working towards National 5 and Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications if schools had to close either fully or partially.

face-to-face teaching
Councillor Jonny Tepp.

But he said the reply, given at a recent Fife Council meeting, gave no commitment or aspiration to making live lessons a central part of the response to future school shutdowns.

He said: “The future vision for online face-to-face teaching is still not clear to me as an elected member so I expect the same is true for teachers, pupils and parents.

“What will a blended learning model look like in Fife? Will there be a clear corporate expectation of face-to-face pupil-teacher time? What is expected of teachers, pupils, and parents as a minimum across Fife?

“One benefit of online delivery material is that high quality learning materials can be developed and shared across Fife and Scotland freeing up teachers to concentrate on providing face-to-face online support.

The future vision for online face-to-face teaching is still not clear to me as an elected member so I expect the same is true for teachers, pupils and parents.”

Councillor Jonny Tepp

“There seems to be a desire to develop that, which is welcome, but will online face-to-face delivery be a key aspiration in the event of future lockdowns or not and what will it look like?

“If not, what are the blocks preventing this from happening?”

Recovery plans

Vice-convener of the education and children’s services sub-committee, Linda Erskine, said that all secondary schools had developed recovery plans and after the cancellation of National 5 exams a working group was established to ensure clear guidance for supporting these qualifications.

She said: “Guidance on planning and delivering effective blended learning, using a flipped approach, has been prepared for schools and companion guidance for parents and learners on making the most of blended learning is also ready.

“To further support face-to-face delivery of lessons, where appropriate, there is a variety of support and guidance in place for schools to access and to contribute to.

“Comprehensive guidance has been shared with all schools on planning for delivering live lessons safely and effectively.

Comprehensive guidance has been shared with all schools on planning for delivering live lessons safely and effectively.”

Linda Erskine, education and children’s services vice convener

“This has been well received and put into practice in many schools.

Schools were also able to access revision notes, assessment and online study support through the national eSgoil offering, she said, and a shared resource of teaching resources and recorded lessons was also being developed.

She said: “This broad range of options facilitates each school in developing its own local online support for learners should they go into lockdown.

“Schools are looking at the guidance and security around live video learning but it is also acknowledged that this does not suit all families, so a variety of options will be essential to supporting all learners to effectively engage.”

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