Parents are calling for an online national curriculum amid fears the poorest children are not engaging with blended learning.
This is the message from a new national campaign group Better Than This for Scotland’s Children, led by Lochee councillor Michael Marra.
Campaigners want an emergency plan to be developed to provide children with the same standard of home learning that they would receive in schools.
The group has written to Scotland’s Children and Young People’s Commissioner (CYPCS) asking him to “urgently investigate” the Scottish Government’s education plans.
We will have children in school just a few days a week and no way of knowing how they’re getting on at home. That’s not blended learning – it’s abandoning children.”
Councillor Michael Marra.
Mr Marra has condemned the lack of data available on how children are engaging with home-learning, as councils across Tayside told The Courier they do not hold the data.
He said: “I first asked Dundee City Council how many children were using online learning on May 5 and they are still unable to tell me and in my view that’s completely unacceptable.
“If the government don’t know this, how can they say children will receive a proper education? Our children deserve better than this.
“We will have children in school just a few days a week and no way of knowing how they’re getting on at home. That’s not blended learning – it’s abandoning children.”
Low engagement has been recorded in Fife, where data is recorded, with a majority of Fife secondary school pupils not engaging with schools’ home learning in April.
‘Lack of equality’ across Scotland
Communities like Lochee, one of Scotland’s most deprived areas, could suffer without access to full learning materials, the Labour councillor has said.
Mr Marra added: “There’s a lack of equality street by street across the country. Some kids in Dundee are being offered one-day schooling per week and their next door neighbour may have three days.
“We need clarity and our children need a full education with a clear national plan – just the same as we have a roadmap for getting out of lockdown.”
In a letter to Children’s Commissioner Bruce Adamson, campaigners said they were “gravely concerned” by the government’s education provision.
It read: “We believe that the Scottish Government’s actions are in breach of the law as they are abandoning the legal and moral right of Scotland’s children to an education.
“There is a very significant impact on family incomes through a lack of school provision and hopes of a return to work are being dashed for hundreds of thousands of families.
“The current provision will push many more families into poverty.”
The Scottish Government said it will scrutinise local plans for blended learning.
A spokesperson said: “As the First Minister and Deputy First Minister have made clear, there is no issue more important that children’s education.
“We expect councils to use innovative and creative ways to maximise the amount of time pupils spend in the classroom when schools re-open in August – and we will be scrutinising closely the local plans which councils are devising.
“We will of course, as the First Minister and Deputy First Minister have emphasised, work with councils to address any resourcing issues.”
Current home learning system is ‘not working’
A spokesperson for the CYPCS said the Commissioner would respond to the group later this week.
He said: “We know the home-based learning that they have been doing just doesn’t work.
“It’s no substitute whatsoever for a real-life, school-based education. The proposals for what has been described as blended learning unfortunately still seem to be heavily based on home learning.
“That’s a problem because it is going to have a real impact on children’s right to education.”