Head Teacher Update - Letter 39

19th February in School

Friday 19th February 2021

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

I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones all safe and well. I also hope you all had an
enjoyable mid-term break and managed to get away from your screens and enjoy the fairly
good weather we had.

As I noted in my last letter to you, we expected and received notification and guidance from
the Scottish Government on Tuesday. We have spent the last couple of days using this
guidance to plan in detail for the anticipated return of some of our children. The Scottish
Government has now confirmed that they believe it is safe for the following groups of children
to return to school from Monday 22nd February.

1. All children below school age who attend our nurseries;
2. A full time return to school for pupils in Primaries 1 - 3; and
3. A part-time return, albeit on a limited basis, for senior phase pupils to allow in-school practical
work that is necessary for the completion of national qualification courses.

You can find the Scottish Government guidance to schools and Local Authorities here:


Phased Return of Senior Phase Pupils for Essential Practical Activities

All S1-6 pupils will continue to be taught online as is currently the case for all subjects.
However, when a senior pupil is required to come into school to complete a practical piece of
work that will allow them to complete an assessment necessary for certification, our Pastoral
Team will contact you. This will be done weekly (ideally).

Pupils should only attend school when parents/pupils have been contacted and they should
then travel home for their other online lesson wherever possible. We are aware that there is a
small number of pupils who will not be able to access transport home during the day and
alternative arrangements will be discussed with them on those days as appropriate. Those
entitled to free school meals will receive a packed lunch in class if requested.

The school hostel will be open to accommodate pupils who return for the sole purpose of
accessing practical tasks and parents should contact Fran Bichard to discuss details.

The times of these practical sessions are as follows:

S4 Pupils – Morning sessions only – 9.00 a.m. to 12.55 p.m.
S5/6 Pupils – Morning sessions – 9.00 a.m. to 11.50 a.m.
Afternoon sessions – 1.10 p.m. to 3.40 p.m.

The small number of Hub pupils will continue to be taught online, in school.


Following the Scottish Government announcement this week, the SQA released further
information for schools and parents/pupils about the alternative certification model being used
to award this year’s qualifications. The full parents’ announcement can be read here:


The SQA have made it clear to schools that the time between now and the Easter Holidays
should be focussed on delivering the high-quality learning & teaching of course content rather
than conducting a large number of assessments. This will allow pupils to gain the skills and
knowledge required to achieve their potential when assessments are undertaken at an
appropriate time. Some subjects which require essential practical activities will be able to
assess these activities before Easter, as pupils studying these subjects will be brought into
school as necessary to complete these.

The main message for our pupils is that they should continue to engage with their learning in
all of their subjects, be that online or in school for practical activities. Attendance and
engagement is vital, as the SQA requires pupils to demonstrate their attainment in
assessments this year.

If pupils do not complete the tasks being set or attend classes online (or the practical ones
available in school), they will not be able to produce the evidence required for them to pass
their courses.

We are very proud of our pupils for their resilience and determination to do well this year, and
we appreciate your continued support with encouraging them to participate in all of their

Health & Safety - for Senior pupils accessing the building for practical activities

In order to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission, we have made some changes to how
Senior Pupils will navigate the school building and learn in classes if they are coming in to
complete essential practical activities. This allows us to maintain “protective bubbles” of students and
keep everyone as safe as possible. The following measures will take effect from Monday 22nd February
for pupils who are coming in for practical activities:

  • Pupils will enter the school via the left-hand doors of the main entrance (Hub pupils
    enter via the right-hand doors).
  • Pupils will sanitise their hands upon arrival as per our existing procedures
  • Pupils will indicate to the designated member of staff if they wish to participate in lateral
    flow testing (there is a letter and additional information regarding testing accompanying
    this letter)
  • Pupils will make their way to classes via the double doors leading to Drama (or via the
    Music doors if accessing the Salon).
  • Pupils then go to the first floor via the Drama staircase - they must not walk through the
    atrium at any time.
  • Pupils will use the first floor socials corridor and the drama and technical staircases to
    access all of their classes.
  • The only pupils allowed above the first floor are those accessing the Art or
    Computing/Admin classrooms.
  • Pupil toilets will be located on the first floor next to the clan classrooms.
  • Pupils must maintain 2m social distancing from each other and staff at all times
  • Pupils must wear masks at all times, including during class
  • Pupils must only stay in the building for the time necessary to complete their practical
  • If any pupils are unable to travel home due to lack of available transport, they will work
    from the clan classrooms on the first floor until their bus/train is due
  • Pupils must attend in school uniform for all classes

We have arranged with West Coast Motors and Scotrail that any pupils who require travel to
attend for essential practical activities can do so for free as long as they are wearing their
school uniform and have their Young Scot Card.

Asymptomatic Testing Programme

We have attached a further letter regarding the new Schools/ELC Asymptomatic Testing
Programme and key documents relating to this can be found on the school website:


It is essential that all senior pupils accessing the school review this link before coming into

P7 Transition

Normally at this time of year we would have already had our P7 pupils coming along to the
High Schools to begin to familiarise themselves with the environment, different subjects and
meet many new staff they are likely to meet. We also arrange an extended transition
programme through our Support department for those who need some extra support making
the big change. Alongside this, the Depute Heads, Guidance, Family Liaison Officers and
myself travel round all the P7 classes to meet the children in their own classes and then
arrange for parental group meetings. Clearly we will have to amend “normal” arrangements again
this year.

I have arranged to hold Google Meet sessions with all P7 pupils. The P7 teachers will give the
children the details next week. This meeting is for pupils and P7 teachers, not parents, just as
if it were a Primary visit in school as normal.

After Easter, we will provide opportunities for sharing information with parents. Mrs Morrison,
the DHT for Primary-Secondary transition arrangements will be in touch with all the details.
She will also provide online contact opportunities for P7 parents.

Mrs Binnie, Principal Teacher of Support will arrange for the extended transition arrangements
for some of our children. This will include on-site visits after school when no other high school
children are present. She will contact parents individually concerning the distinct arrangements
necessary to best support individuals.

P7 parents may now use the Contact Us pages at any time – please address any enquiry to
Lauren Morrison, DHT. I would encourage all P7 parents to download the School App for
Parents to receive on-going news and information updates they may find useful in preparing
for High School. I would also advise that they use the website to access any previous letters
or access policies and large documents they may be interested in.


I am well aware this continuing online provision for children and the extended Lockdown for
many parents will remain at times a concern and a stress within households. As frequently
repeated, if you have any IT difficulty, financial hardship or need for us to support the pastoral
or academic care of your children, please contact us and we will support you in whatever way
we can. As well as that open invitation, please also bear in mind my guidance around online
learning. As long as our children are engaging each day, they are not falling behind in their

Indeed, the lack of normal in-school distractions often allows many pupils to progress through
the curriculum at a good pace. This allows us more flexibility across the day, to a certain
degree. Therefore, please make sure you advise your children to take time away from their
screens at every opportunity and ideally, if you can, spend some time together going for a walk,
chatting, reading a book: whatever you feel helps relieve any stresses that we may be facing
in the current situation. This can only help before it is necessary to get back behind the screens
and crack on with some work / school-work.

Please remember to contact your child’s Guidance Teacher or use the Contact Us link: when
using these links please remember to include your child’s full name and class/year in the
content of your email.


Yours faithfully

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

Summary Update 19.2.21

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