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Head Teacher Update - Letter 29

16th March in School

Friday 6th November 2020

Dear Parent/Carer/colleagues,

I hope this letter finds you all safe and well.

Thanks and well done.

Let me begin by thanking everyone involved in keeping our children safe and learning. It remains a
significant challenge as the threat of Covid continues to restrict our ability to carry on our daily lives in
the way in which we once did. However, I believe we are not only coping but actually thriving in this
period of our “new normal”. This morning I addressed the school in an online assembly and thanked all
our pupils and staff for adhering to our new guidelines, ensuring that we are keeping safe, well and
learning. I wish to take this opportunity to also thank our parents and friends in the community for doing
likewise. Together we are all making a difference.

In this morning’s assembly our School captains Freya and Alik and myself also took the opportunity to
thank Jemma Playfair for her commitment and dedication to supporting our schools as Depute Head
Teacher. Jemma leaves us today to take up her new post as Head Teacher in Kinlochleven next week.
Sam Martin will act as her replacement for the moment. Sam is a very experienced PT, with DHT
experience and will fit smoothly into that role.

I noted the view that we were thriving in the new learning environment we find ourselves in, a bold claim
but one we can evidence through the work our staff and pupils are engaged with, which on the whole,
is working very well indeed. This week staff, pupils, parents and myself were interviewed by an
international panel of the OECD as part of an evaluation of Scottish Education. The feedback was that
they were impressed by the innovative practice in Oban and Tiree schools, the breadth and depth of
opportunity available to all our pupils and the very positive way in which everyone viewed our schools
and the education system we have established. Yesterday, I followed this up by giving a presentation
to representatives of the UK, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Governments on behalf of the Scottish
Government. That panel wished to know how we were using digital technology to develop a progressive
educational experience for our children; particularly during the challenges brought by Covid. They too
were impressed by our vision and the innovative practice. This success is down to the investment in
our schools by Argyll and Bute Council, the commitment of our staff embracing significantly different
methods of teaching (alongside traditional methods) and because of the willingness of our children who
are keen to embrace and learn within a new digital age. Well done to everyone.

New Covid guidance

In my last letter I noted the new national guidance that was issued by the Scottish Government…

https://www.gov.scot/publications/covid-19-scotlands-strategic-framework/

…and that further education specific information was due out. This can now be found here:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-reducing-the-risks-in-schools/

This is a 69 page document, much of which remains unchanged. However, please find the key changes
that relate to Oban and Tiree who are in Tier 2. There are different guidance notes for schools in Tiers
3 and 4 which can be found in the link:

Continuing expectations

In schools, approaches such as following and reinforcing physical distancing advice, having a
staggered start and end to the school day, staggered lesson change overs, blocking of timetables,
scrupulous hand-washing and respiratory hygiene help to contain the spread of COVID 19. It is
very important that these and other measures continue to be followed rigorously. Teachers should
continue to be vigilant in all areas of the school building and ensure risk assessments are live
documents that are reviewed as appropriate.

Update on face coverings

  • Complying with physical distancing advice continues to be very important and requires
    regular reinforcement.

  • At Levels 0-2 face coverings should be worn by adults where they cannot keep two metres from
    other adults and / or children and young people across primary and secondary (but with Nursery
    models permitted for early stage, P1-2, as before).

    This means that when teaching from the front of the class at a teacher’s desk, and assuming
    that a 2 metre distance can be maintained from the pupils, no face coverings are required.

    When moving about the class, if a 2 metre distance cannot be maintained, face coverings should
    be worn.

  • At all Levels face coverings should be used by adults when not working directly with children, for
    example when moving around settings or when in staff rooms, administrative areas or canteens
    across all school settings.

  • Face coverings should be worn by parents and other visitors to the school site (whether entering
    the building or otherwise), including parents at drop-off and pick-up.

    In-school parent drop offs are permitted for primary children in Tiree Primary but not for Oban
    and Tiree High School children. High school pupils are of an age where they are able to follow
    the Government advice that they should be dropped off at a safe location and walk to school;
    thereby avoiding unnecessary adults in schools and large gatherings at traditional school drop
    off points.

Updates and jotters and other equipment

  • Careful hand washing with soap and warm water/use of alcohol-based hand sanitiser before
    and after handling jotters (or other pieces of equipment) mitigates the need for quarantine for
    72 hours before, and 72 hours after. Staff and pupils should also avoid touching their mouth,
    nose and eye area.

    Jotters, books and school equipment which remain in school do not required to be quarantined.

    Books or other school equipment which has been loaned out of school, have to be quarantined
    for 72 hours before being used by another pupil / staff member.

Updates on curriculum changes

Physical Education

  • Levels 0-3 – Children and young people within school settings can participate in
    contact and non-contact activities, both indoors and outdoors.
  • PE should continue to be held outside as far as is practically possible
  • When engaging in indoor PE activities, all secondary school pupils must wear face coverings
    around the activity and in changing rooms where a 2 meter distance cannot be maintained.
  • All non-participating secondary school young people must wear a face covering where PE is
    taking place (eg games hall, gym, assembly halls) this is due to the increased aerosol risk
    caused by the PE activity in that area.

Other Curriculum Areas

  • Guidance on other subjects with practical experiential learning, such as music and drama
    has not been altered at this point. All advice is kept under review and will be updated as
    appropriate.

SQA Qualifications

  • There will be no external assessment of National 5 courses this year and an alternative
    certification approach is being put in place based on teacher judgement, supported by
    assessment resources and quality assurance.
  • The SQA published broad guidance on evidence gathering and estimation with a clear focus on
    the quality, not quantity, of evidence. This is accompanied by an SQA Academy Course on quality
    assuring estimates.
  • Subject specific guidance on the work that learners need to complete will be published by the
    SQA.
  • Higher and Advanced Higher exams are planned to start on Thursday 13 May 2021 and finish
    on Friday 4 June 2021, with Results Day on Tuesday 10 August 2021.

The SQA timetable for 2021 can be found here:

https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/files_ccc/exam-timetable-2021.pdf

Recording absence

As Covid-19 continues its impact on our lives we wanted to provide reassurance around your child’s
education and absence from school due to Covid-19. The Scottish Government has introduced new
codes that schools must use for all absences that are as a direct result of Covid-19.

If your child is absent due to contracting Covid-19 or is required to self-isolate, their attendance
summary will clearly show that this is in relation to Covid-19. It should not, therefore, impact on any
senior phase pupils who may be considering starting work or completing their university applications.

Support

Please take the opportunity and let us lend a hand where we can. No matter if you need help with
learning, IT, dealing with teenagers or with things like free school meals. We will help you, if you wish.
Feel free to contact your child’s Guidance Teacher or use the Contact Us section of the website.

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

I hope you and your loved ones have a lovely weekend.

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

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