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Schools in ‘much better’ position to deal with home learning this lockdown

Teaching unions have voiced confidence that lessons learned from the previous lockdown will mean pupils will see an improvement this time.
Teaching unions have voiced confidence that lessons learned from the previous lockdown will mean pupils will see an improvement this time.

Schools are in a much better position to deal with home learning during this lockdown than they were previously, union leaders have claimed.

As the majority of pupils in Scotland prepare to be taught at home until at least February, teaching unions have voiced confidence that lessons learned from the previous lockdown will mean pupils will see an improvement this time.

Greg Dempster, general secretary of the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) union, is one of those who is confident the correct provisions are in place.

He said: “Schools are in a much better position than they were in March because they have the experience of dealing with remote learning and have also had time to think about how they could improve what they were doing.

Greg Dempster, general secretary of the AHDS.

“I think that pupils and families will experience a different level of engagement than they had previously so hopefully people will see an improvement on before.”

Before the start of the school year in August, preparations had been underway for pupils to be taught via blended learning.

Although these were eventually put on hold as pupils returned to school full time, Mr Dempster believes it can be of use throughout the current lockdown.

He said: “The preparation that had happened prior to and during summer was about a blended learning basis which is quite different.

“But obviously some of that preparation is readily transferred to this situation.

“There has also been quite a considerable amount of time and experience in remote learning.”

All requested Chromebooks, iPads and Mifis (around 1900 devices in total) via the government scheme have been delivered to schools and distributed to identified children and young people.”

Angus Council spokesman

The AHDS general secretary also welcomed the extension to the festive break – which was announced in December – saying it meant schools have time to prepare for the switch to online learning.

He said: “It’s really welcomed and important that the government decided to have planning time at the start of this session because the decision was so late at the end of the last session.

“That planning time this week before the remote learning starts is extremely important as it gives schools a bit of space to make sure it is as it needs to be.”

Laptop provision

The Scottish Government previously announced a £9 million scheme aimed at delivering 25,000 laptops to disadvantaged children across Scotland.

However concerns were by raised by opposition MSPs after it was revealed that as of July 2020, none of the laptops bought by the government to help pupils learn at home had been distributed.

But in her statement to parliament yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon said that more than 50,000 devices have since been distributed to children and young people.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reacts as she delivers a statement at Holyrood, Edinburgh, announcing that Scotland will be placed in lockdown from midnight for the duration of January with a legal requirement to stay at home except for essential purposes. PA Photo.

Of these devices, close to 2,000 have been delivered to pupils across the Angus region.

A spokesman for Angus Council said: “All requested Chromebooks, iPads and Mifis (around 1900 devices in total) via the government scheme have been delivered to schools and distributed to identified children and young people.

“This was completed in November last year. Schools may also be making their own local arrangements in respect of the use and distribution of other devices.”

Head of education and children’s services at Fife Council, Angela Logue, also confirmed over 4,000 devices have already been distributed to children and young people in the Kingdom.

Schools closed: What are the pupils, teaching unions and parent groups saying?

A further 1,000 devices are expected to be distributed in the next two weeks.

The local authority also said that connectivity solutions have also been provided where necessary to improve access to the internet.

Ms Logue added: “Parents and carers will be contacted directly by their schools on arrangements for their continued learning throughout January following the announcement by the First Minister.”

Perth and Kinross Council confirmed that more than 900 devices will be ready for pupils and families to use when remote learning begins next Monday.

A spokeswoman for the local authority said: “Perth & Kinross Council schools have continued to work with families to ensure that all children and young people identified as requiring support to access the necessary digital device to continue their learning at home, can receive the appropriate support.

“By the start of the new term on 11 January over 950 new iPads, laptops and probooks, will have been prepared and delivered to schools for distribution to children and young people ensuring all those that have been identified by schools are digitally included.

“We will continue to engage with schools and families to further determine any emerging need for access to devices in households as the term begins.”

Figures for Dundee City were not immediately available.

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