Having long supported the ambition to have our schools return full-time on 11 August, Kenneth welcomed the Education Secretary’s decision yesterday after John Swinney MSP made a statement on education recovery in the Scottish Parliament.
Blended learning has been a contingency plan that was and is necessary and, for the last month councils and teachers have worked hard to enact that contingency.
Now, thankfully, the picture looks more positive.
If we stay on our current positive trajectory, which of course cannot be taken for granted, by August the position will be even better.
“I have long argued of the educational, economic and social need to return our children full-time to school outweighs the rapidly diminishing threat of COVID-19. I am delighted that the Cabinet Secretary has listened to parents, who will now have one less thing to worry about over the summer.
“The additional £100 million Mr Swinney announced to ease recovery and again focus on closing the attainment gap is also very welcome.”
If we all continue to do what is right and further suppress this terrible virus, the SNP Government believes that children should be able to return to school full time.
This is the aim that Scottish Ministers are now working towards. However, because it has to be achieved safely, it inevitably remains conditional and dependent upon ongoing scientific and health advice.
This will be part of a wider approach. The Education Secretary has established a new sub group of the COVID-19 Advisory Group to specialise on education and children’s issues. The first review of that material will be later this week. In order to resume full time schooling, various conditions need to be in place:
First, infection rates must be at a level that is sufficiently low to provide assurance that we can continue to control the virus.
Second, we must ensure that we make use of our full public health infrastructure locally and nationally to get early warning of issues and rapid local action including test and protect.
Third, there must be the right protective measures and risk assessments in place in schools to keep everyone with higher risk factors including teachers and staff safe. In addition to these, the COVID-19 Advisory Group and the new sub-group have been asked for further advice on any tests or indicators which would show we were on track.
In all of this, the SNP Government will work closely with the Education Recovery Group. Given the change in the central planning assumption to work towards full time return to schools in August, the SNP Government will continue to work over the summer. Local authorities will then communicate arrangements for the return to school with families in due course.