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Back to School: Fife rector praises senior pupils completing essential coursework on first day back after lockdown

Waid Academy.
Waid Academy.

A Fife head teacher has praised senior pupils for their resilience after a limited number of young people returned to school today for essential practical coursework.

Elizabeth Smart, rector at Waid Academy, said teachers were delighted to be able to physically teach their classes again after worrying about how to deliver their courses remotely.

Pupils completing Higher graphic communications, Higher computing studies and National 5 drama were among the first to return to the Anstruther school.

They were unable to complete their schoolwork remotely as it required computing software that was not accessible at home or relied on collaboration among pupils.

The young people I spoke to were also really pleased to be in and they felt they were getting really individualised attention.”

New Covid-19 restrictions

School life has changed with the introduction of new safety measures, including voluntary lateral flow testing for both staff and pupils.

Class sizes have also been significantly reduced because of two metre physical distancing which means approximately six pupils from each class can attend at one time.

Mrs Smart said: “Our school community has been amazing the whole way through this period in terms of compliance with Covid regulations.

“It was really different for our youngsters today because there were more mitigations in place now than there were before we stopped before the lockdown.

“We met them off the school bus so we could remind them about the two-metre physical distancing which is now in place.

“We also had separate entrances for each group of young people coming in and we have maintained them in separate bubbles.”

Children of key workers and vulnerable young people, who have been attending school since January, each have their own bubble.

Lateral flow tests

Mrs Smart praised pupils for their support in taking part in coronavirus testing.

While the testing is not mandatory, she said staff and pupils have been “outstanding” in helping to keep the school safe.

She added: “It is obviously voluntary for both young people and staff to engage with the lateral flow testing but we’re strongly encouraging it because we think that will help to keep everyone safe in the community.

“Prior to coming into school, we invited pupils to come in on Wednesday, which was an in-service day, to collect their lateral flow testing kits and all staff who were in school have been given the kits too.

“We have had a really outstanding uptake.”

Teachers ‘delighted’ to return

Pupils and staff both enjoyed their first day back in school, according to Mrs Smart, as they are able complete tasks which could not be done at home.

“Two graphic communication teachers were in today and they said to me at break time that they were absolutely delighted to be back in school with their young people,” she said.

“Remote learning is going well and our children are engaging really, really well but the teachers of these subjects have been anxious because it has been very difficult for them to do that at home, so we’re delighted to have them back.

“The young people I spoke to were also really pleased to be in and they felt they were getting really individualised attention because it’s small groups and it felt really useful for them.

“They like the fact they know exactly when they’re in over the next three weeks and they’ll continue with their remote learning for their other subjects.”

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