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Head Teacher Covid Update 16

21st June in School

21st June 2020

Dear Parent/Carer

I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones safe and well.

Please find this week’s information letter. As always it’s in sections so you can scroll through
the sections you find relevant; though my advice is that you read it all. Please also have a look
at previous letters (and FAQs) on the website; or the video versions on YouTube.

http://www.obanhigh.argyll-bute.sch.uk/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqVauXoUp5efv8sm1zBk0ig

Thank you

My thanks to everyone for their continuing efforts to keep our children safe, well and educated.
The level of commitment and hard work by all our staff is astounding. Like many of our parents,
our staff continue to work from home whilst having their own competing family commitments to
attend to. They continue to teach classes, prepare materials for this session and to write new
programmes of work to cope with the blended learning approach due to be adopted from
August: and they are now in school whenever possible as well, getting classrooms and
resources ready for the new term. And, our staff continue to staff the Hub schools in Oban and
Tiree daily to support children of essential workers as well as volunteering to prepare and
deliver around 1400 food parcels each week.

I would take the opportunity to thank all the parents who ensure our children engage with us,
despite their own difficult family circumstances. This week in particular, I would like to thank all
the members of the Parent Council who came together for a considerable time to consider,
comment and advise on our recovery plan. Our special thanks goes to our Parent Council
Chair, Maggie Thorpe. Maggie has been an outstanding Chair, whose commitment over the
years has been noteworthy. Her professional approach to her duties as Chair in meetings; her
attendance at Parent’s evenings, Highland Games, Charity events and P7 Gateway evenings;
and her role as panel member to appoint DHTs and successive Senior Pupil Leadership Teams
have been invaluable in showcasing the vital work members of the Parent Council can play in
making our school a fantastic place to learn and work in.

We also wish to thank all the parents, carers and young people who have shown their
appreciation for and support to our extended pastoral team over the last 14 weeks. The regular
welfare checks will continue over the summer break through our partners and we will resume
our supports when school returns. We have detailed and sensitive plans to be there for our
families in August and look forward to continuing the positive parental engagement in a myriad
of ways to help our young people and their families to continue to flourish. For anyone who
might be struggling these links may be of use:

https://young.scot/campaigns/national/aye-feel

https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/our-children-their-mental-health

https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/sites/default/files/mental_health_resources_updated_april_2020.pdf

https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/

August start dates and Blended Model

  • The new session will begin with an In-Service day on the 11th August.
  • S1 pupils will commence with three days of a Transition programme 12th – 14th August.
  • Some pupils with additional support needs will have parentally-agreed, individualised timetables
  • All S1-3 pupils will attend school on 17th August for a full week (week 1).
  • In week 2, the S1-3 pupils will stay at home and carry on their lessons through Google
    Classroom as they do currently. The work set with both will consolidate the learning
    done in school during Week 1 and set them up for the week after.
  • All S4-6 pupils will attend school on the 24th August and continue with all their certificated
    courses. When the seniors are not in school, similar to the junior pupils, they will use
    Google Classroom in the same manner as they do now. The senior pupils will begin
    their remote learning on August 12th.
  • When in school, the vast majority of classes will have to be split into groups of 10s as
    the average ratio for a class size with social distancing applied is 1:10. There are some
    rooms that are larger or smaller than this average.
  • To make the learning more efficient, we intend to use the technology we have in school
    to allow a teacher of a class of up to 30 pupils to deliver the lesson simultaneously
    across two or three classrooms. This will ensure that we get through the course content
    at a good pace. The alternative, without the technology provided, would necessitate a
    teacher delivering the same lesson two or three times. Other staff will supervise all the
    S1-4, and many of the S5-6 classes when the teacher is delivering from room 1. The
    subject specialist teacher delivering the lesson will move around all pupils across the
    2/3 classes throughout the session.
  • The timetable has been re-written to ensure that our children are kept in “bubbles” (same
    groups of children as far as possible each day). They will have longer periods, now
    called sessions. There are two sessions in a day. Pupils will only move from one
    classroom to another once in a day.
  • The junior pupils’ sessions will be further split into two “blocks” so they can receive two
    subjects per session, resulting in 20 classes per week. However, it is the teachers who
    will change over mid-session, not the pupils. The pupils will only have one move each
    day.
  • Breaks will be provided in each longer session but these will be at different times, in
    different classes, and on different floors; this will avoid the “bubbles” mixing.
  • Lunch has been reduced to 30 minutes and brought forward for many pupils. An extra 15
    minute break has been added in the afternoon. Lunches have been split throughout the
    middle of the day because we can’t allow the pupils to gather in the numbers we have.
    Even with only around 500 having lunch on any one day this means that we have half that
    number on a lunch break at the same time. As we do not have space to allow that many
    to come together with social distancing in place, lunches will be served to classrooms.
    (We are still looking to hire Marquees to allow outside dining but this has not been confirmed
    as possible as yet.)
  • School lunches will be ordered in the morning but pupils can also bring in their own packed lunch.
  • Pupils are not permitted to leave the school grounds thereby “bursting the bubble” and
    making all the aforementioned precautions to keep as safe and avoid the increased risk
    of spreading the virus worthless.
  • Normal school rules apply. Come to school; on time; with equipment for the day; in full
    uniform; and show respect for oneself and others. (Pupils do not need to wear school
    uniform on a day when they have PE as we don’t wish to use the changing rooms
    unnecessarily).
  • Full timetables will be provided for each pupil before the summer break along with other
    useful, pupil-friendly information, similar to the original pack we issued to all parents at
    the start of the crisis. Could you please keep this in a safe place and discuss it with your
    child so that they are prepared for the beginning of term in August.

This Model for our return has been shared with and agreed by both the Local Authority
and Parent Council. It is likely to change to some degree as events and Scottish
Government guidance develop over the coming weeks and months.

Transport to school

Discussions around transport nationally and local companies and education Transport await
further guidance at this time.

Transition

This week’s P7 / new S1 tasks are from languages. Miss Mackinnon has posted a video and a
task for Gaelic and Mrs Robertson has posted a video and a task for French.

Most learners have now joined their My Time classes on google classroom. My Time teachers
have begun posting tasks to help everyone get to know each other before we meet in August.
Please take part in these tasks to help your My Time teachers get to know you and you them!

Thank you to those parents/carers who requested phone calls. Guidance teachers and Depute
Head Teachers have enjoyed speaking to families this week and will continue to contact those
with appointments next week.

Welfare Checks

Despite it being the last week of term, we are still required and keen to ensure that all our pupils
are safe, well and supported. Please ensure your child completes the Welfare Check on Google
Classroom before midday Tuesday.

Health and Safety

Risk Assessments have been completed for the safe return of young people to the building. Some
of the key areas we are ensuring health and safety include:

  • Class numbers are reduced in line with Scottish Government guidelines.
  • Class “bubbles” have been created to reduce the mixing of pupil groups.
  • Timetable adapted to avoid 35 period changeovers (now only 10 sessions). Introduced
    to reduce pupil groups mixing.
  • Hand sanitizer and wipes available in every classroom.
  • Young people will be asked to sanitise constantly throughout the day.
  • Additional cleaning will take place throughout the school day.

To answer two common questions now (although more answers will be in the FAQ sheets
issued next week). Firstly, schools are safe places to learn and work. There is no reason to
wear PPE. However, if a pupil wishes to wear gloves or a mask, they can if this makes them
more comfortable. Secondly, there is no reason not to wear a uniform - we are keen to give the
pupils as normal an experience of school as we can and to help them re-establish good habits.

Information that informed Recovery Plan

All decisions taken with regard to our Recovery Plan are based on discussions with our Local
Authority; Health and Safety department; Parent Council; Head Teacher advisory groups; and
Local Authority Work-streams. We have used information gleaned from two significant surveys
of staff, pupils and parents. Furthermore, much of our decision-making comes directly from the
Scottish Government publications. The links to this key guidance and the Strategic Framework
for re-opening schools and ELC in Scotland can be accessed from this single link:

https://www.gov.scot/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance/#educationandchildren

This is a summary of our plans. Full information packs with details of all the changes including
timetables, guidance notes, Google classroom codes, answers to FAQs and other helpful
guides will be issued next Friday, 26th June. We hope the discussions you will have with your
child will reassure all concerned, in readiness for the start of term in August.

If there is anything at all you wish to ask us about, or require support with anything, please
contact us at:

http://www.obanhigh.argyll-bute.sch.uk/contact

Yours faithfully

P A Bain
Executive Head Teacher
Oban High School, Tiree High School & Tiree Primary School

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