All 12 pupils at a rural Perthshire school were delighted as they returned to school today following weeks of remote learning.
Abernyte Primary has enough pupils for just one classroom, which includes a mixture of P1 to P7, meaning the whole school were welcomed back.
Scottish Government guidance states that small schools where the entire primary cohort is taught in a single class with less than 25 pupils can reopen fully because of insufficient staff numbers.
There are six pupils in the lower school (P1-P3) and six in the upper school (P4-P7) and the class teacher would have had to juggle class teaching with remote learning.
Gerard McGoldrick, parent council chairman and parent to a P2 pupil, welcomed the effort to have all pupils back in the classroom.
He said: “We were initially worried about how the school would cope with teaching the pupils in class and helping with remote learning for the other half of the school.
I know that some of the kids were really disappointed when they heard it was only P1 to P3 that were going back so we’re really chuffed.”
“It’s great news for everyone. I know that some of the kids were really disappointed when they heard it was only P1 to P3 that were going back so we’re really chuffed.
“It’s about their mental health and that’s probably the most important thing.
“When you’re from a small rural school, you generally live in a small village where there aren’t loads of kids kicking about, so being part of the school is a big part of their social life.”
The school is set for a bumper P1 intake in 2021, with nine pupils enrolled to join the school in August.
The school’s pupil roll will increase to 20 children in total and result in a second class being set up, according to the parent council.
Perth and Kinross Council’s lifelong learning committee also hopes to determine whether the catchment area for the rural school should be extended.
The parent council say the catchment area proposals will provide a welcome boost to the school pupil roll and have urged local parents to participate in the questionnaire launched by the council.
It means pupils who live within areas to the north of the A90 – which would include Inchture and Longforgan primaries – would be added to the school catchment.
We’re incredibly lucky to have the staff that we do at Abernyte.”
Mr McGoldrick has also thanked Abernyte school staff for supporting local families through lockdown.
He said: “All families are in different situations with what they can manage with some families having both parents trying to work from home at the same time and that’s a hard thing to do.
“I really appreciate what the staff at Abernyte did for us as parents and our kids during lockdown.
“We’re incredibly lucky to have the staff that we do at Abernyte and we’re also very grateful that Perth and Kinross Council were able to facilitate our kids getting back to school.”
A Perth and Kinross Council spokeswoman said: “We are pleased that our smaller school are able to return from Monday February 22 in line with national guidance.
“All our schools will continue to deliver both quality in-school and remote learning for all our children and young people going forward, as we await further updates from the Scottish Government.”