Education Scotland praise local authorities for supporting learners

Aberdeen City Council, Dundee City Council and North Ayrshire Council have received praise from Education Scotland .  

Gayle Gorman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Chief Executive of Education Scotland, said: “With the ever-changing situation with Covid-19, it is a challenging time for everyone and we recognise the pressure that teachers, local authorities and children are facing during this difficult time. 

“From Education Scotland, to local authorities and teachers, we all have responsibilities for ensuring learning continues for Scotland’s young people during this unprecedented period of disruption, including ensuring support for our most vulnerable pupils. 

“Empowerment, leadership and collaboration has been key in recent weeks, with everyone across the educational system working hard to support learning at home, as well as supporting keyworkers’ children through the childcare offer in local authority learning hubs. 

“The work which Aberdeen City Council, Dundee City Council and North Ayrshire Council have been doing is an excellent example of how authorities can adapt to a completely new way of working to ensure that learning continues for children and young people. I want to thank the councils, the teachers and the support staff for demonstrating this commitment to providing the best for our young people.” 

Aberdeen City Council 

Aberdeen City Council has provided over 2400 Chromebooks and iPads to families to support learning at home to ensure that every child who currently does not have a device at home will receive one. 

The authority aims to provide connectivity for its most vulnerable families to ensure they have access to online learning and, most importantly, are able to take part in regular check-ins with their teachers. 

Using Google Classroom, the authority has created a digital learning hub to provide information and resources for pupils, parents and carers, and teaching staff. This includes a tool to support school leaders which shows when pupils last logged in, allowing them to follow up with pupils they are concerned about by telephone. 

Councillor John Wheeler, Aberdeen City Council’s Education Operational Delivery Convener said: “We are working hard to ensure that learning can continue at home for all our pupils and our teachers have been exemplary in their dedication and the support they have given at this challenging time. 

“It is great to receive this recognition of our efforts from Education Scotland which has worked closely with us to support our digital learning offering through bespoke training focused on Computer Science and Digital Skills.” 

Dundee City Council 

Dundee City Council is delivering support for practitioners through a city-wide Microsoft Team which staff can join via Glow, the national online learning environment which is freely available to all learners and teachers in Scotland. 

This team provides support for Dundee teachers offering access to training materials, guides and links to national Education Scotland resources. This includes a range of webinars to build practitioner skills in using tools to engage with learners through Glow. 

Schools are using Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom within Glow to engage with learners, and share learning activities and opportunities with children and young people in both primary and secondary settings. 

All secondary schools have also created a Parent Portal to help parents support their children in using digital tools. This includes links to learning sites, such as Scholar, which ensure young people can access learning resources and information at their appropriate level. 

Audrey May, Head of Service (Chief Education Officer) at Dundee City Council, said: “I am delighted that our schools have worked hard, with great support from our Digital Education Support Officers, to create online (and offline) resources and support for pupils of all ages and stages. 

“The wide range of communication and collaboration tools available through the Glow service have helped us to ensure that learning continues outside of the classroom for our pupils. Through our Parent Portal, we are also helping parents and carers to work in partnership with us and their children to support their ongoing learning through this challenging time.” 

North Ayrshire Council 

Prior to the closure, all schools and early years centres were asked to produce plans to ensure continuity of learning and teaching across North Ayrshire. The Council’s Educational Psychology Service also put together advice on the importance of doing activities that promote curiosity and build positive relationships and these have been shared with staff to support learning. 

All learners across primary and secondary stages have received online resources through Glow, the national online learning environment, and other platforms. Many schools have also set up groups on Microsoft Teams in Glow to enable them to keep in touch with learners. 

Learners who are unable to access digital platforms have been issued with physical, paper-based learning packs so that they are still engaged in learning. In addition, many schools have provided equipment, including digital devices, to support their learners. 

These resources are not intended to be compulsory and are provided only to support and enhance learning at this difficult time given the additional pressure which learning at home may have on families. 

The local authority has also created six childcare hubs to cater for the children of key workers and vulnerable children and young people. 

Councillor John Bell, Cabinet Member for Education, said: “This has been an incredibly challenging situation for teachers, staff, parents/carers and pupils right across the world. 

“There is no simple solution to this unprecedented situation. Here in North Ayrshire, we are trying to provide as much support as possible and to make sure every pupil is given the opportunity to continue learning until normal service resumes. We have reminded parents/carers that they should not put too much pressure on themselves. 

“Teaching a child in the home setting is a completely different dynamic and it’s important parents/carers remember that and don’t get caught up in trying to be a teacher. We are reminding them not to recreate a ‘classroom’ environment or stick to rigid school hours. For early years and younger children it is much better to engage in practical activities which relate to real life. For example, cooking and baking together covers literacy and numeracy as well as important life and social skills. 

“The home packs are there to support and enhance what they are doing at home, and parents can dip in and out of them in a way that suits their child’s needs, interests and learning preferences. 

“Teachers will maintain regular contact with classes and individuals to check in with the children/young people and to support the learning process.”