Head Teacher Update - Letter 35

5th January in School

5th January 2021

Dear Parent/Carer and pupils (please share this information with your children).

I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones safe and well and that you had a lovely
Christmas holiday.

In my last letter, dated 23rd December, I noted that online learning would last until the 18th
January. Following yesterday’s announcement by the First Minister, our preparation for a
longer period of support seems wise as we will now be providing online learning until at least
the first of February. You can find the new guidance for schools, in place until at least the first
of February here:

https://www.gov.scot/news/schools-guidance/

New term dates, who will attend and when?

The following is a bit repetitive but I think useful given the recent announcement.

All Argyll and Bute schools will reopen as planned on the Thursday 7th and Friday 8th of
January. On these days we will only be open to support the children of parents who are both
key workers and children we have identified as being vulnerable. All staff will attend school on
these days to prepare for delivering online learning from the 11th January.

How will online learning work?

The last letter noted how we will use Google Classroom and Google Meet in detail.

Please note that if you need a copy of your child’s timetable or you/your child have an issue
with a GC code or login, then please just use the Contact Us section on the website.

Please also remember that you are not required to teach your child. We only ask that you make
sure your child gets up for school each morning and logs into their lessons on time – if you can.
If they don’t, our guidance staff will contact you and ask if you need any IT or pastoral support
to encourage your child to engage with their online learning.

Please also remember that pupils all work at a different pace when not distracted by fellow
pupils; or have the same amount of interaction / group work as they would in school. There will
also be subjects on their timetable where they will not be required to engage as much at home
as they would in school. PE and Technical subjects for example will require some online written
work but pupils will not need to login to these classes as often because there is less opportunity
for practical work. This will be clear from the teachers’ instructions on Google Classroom.

Both these examples illustrate that pupils will not be engaged in school work for the same
amount of time as if at school. This “non-contact” time may be a good time to get together and
engage in family activities or to catch up and socialise with the friends they will no doubt be
missing from school. Socialising with friends and spending time with the family is just as
important as learning formal subjects in these difficult, stressful times. The timetables allow for
formal learning, family time and socialising to take place.

If you find that there are connectivity or device issues at home, please contact us. It may be
possible that we could help with a wifi booster, an additional data card or merely suggest some
timetabling strategies to help everyone get logged on.

S1-3 pupils will have their lessons uploaded to GC on a period-by-period basis, linked to their
current timetable. At the start of a period they should log on, read and begin the tasks set.
Throughout the period, teachers will be on GC, available to answer questions and give
guidance as required. Just like in a class environment, pupils asking questions may have to
wait their turn for the teachers to answer so please be patient.

All S4-6 will follow their current timetables and log onto their Google Meet class at the start of
each period. Teachers will spend 10-20 minutes explaining the topic of the day, setting the
tasks and answering questions. Google Meet will then cease and pupils will work on their tasks
and communicate with their teachers over Google Classroom by texting. Mid-way through the
lesson, the teacher will gather the pupils back into a live session on Google Meet to check
progress and offer support, before resuming with the tasks and supporting individuals through
GC. The class will end with the teacher summing up and providing next steps, again by using
Google Meet.

This may seem daunting and unfamiliar to some at first. However, experience shows that the
pupils cope with it well. Using live learning over Google Meet continues the relationship
between teacher and pupil more fully and helps with engagement and understanding. It’s
easier to have a conversation ‘in person’ rather than over the phone and this is similar. We
already teach certificated courses every day between Oban and Tiree using Google Meet. It
works very well.

Pastoral Support

In addition to pupils having difficulty using IT from home because of technical reasons, we are
aware that some pupils will not be keen to engage in learning online for other reasons. If this
is the case, again, please contact us and one of the pastoral team members will support you
and your child in an effort to try and overcome the barriers. I would also note that many pupils
thrive on online learning, preferring it to being in school with all the relationship issues that that
can bring; such is the diversity of needs and opportunities in such a large vibrant school.

What will happen after 1st February?

The Scottish Government statement said that online learning will be used until “at least the 1st
of February”. The expectation would be that we would all return to school as normal on that
date. However, as we are already planning for online delivery for a week, we will be further
prepared and plan for longer online provision, just in case, so lessons and materials will be
prepared up until the February break.

Our current blocked timetable was written to accommodate both online learning (when all
pupils are at home learning) and for blended learning (where some pupils will be in school; and
some at home). No matter what happens, an extension to online delivery, a move to blended
learning, or hopefully a full return to school on the 1st of February, we will be able to cope
because we have planned for many possible scenarios.

I shall write to you all again on Friday 8th January with further details about SQA arrangements,
our BGE online parents’ evening and other emerging details linked to online delivery.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us:

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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