Head Teacher Update - Letter 41

12th March in School

Dear parent/carer and pupils (please share with your children)

I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones all safe and well. This letter is similar to the letter I sent you last week but has a little more important detail now we have had more time to firm up our plans. Please read it all.

Thank you.

May I begin by thanking everyone involved in keeping us all safe and learning. This week in particular I must raise the volume of such applause as so many who support our school communities have worked tirelessly to re-write timetables, develop alternative learning experiences and prepare our schools and transport infrastructure necessary for a return to school for all children from the 15th of March. In addition to acknowledging the tremendous efforts of all the staff in our schools, I would also like to say thank you to those in the Education, Health and Safety, Transport and Cleaning and Catering departments who have all contributed to ensuring a rapid response which will allow all of our children to return from Monday. Equally, the swift and supportive response by our local transport companies is very much appreciated.

The First Minister has stated that all pupils are to return to school, at some point each week, from the 15th March. The arrangement noted below will be in effect until April 1st when we end this term. Friday the 2nd is a public holiday and the start of the Easter break. We will all return, in full, on the 19th April, unless the Scottish Government tells us otherwise.

There are two significant additions to the previous health and safety guidance used in High Schools. Firstly, all pupils and staff must wear face coverings in classrooms and public spaces; and secondly we must all ensure a 2m distance from each other. In almost every High School in the country, this will mean that schools have to take a blended approach to learning with some pupils in school and some pupils at home because there is simply not enough room in most schools to accommodate 2m distancing between each person. The First Minister noted that where this is the case, priority is to be given to the senior Phase (S4-6) as they must prepare for assessments necessary for SQA certification.

As we do not have the capacity to keep 2m distance for over a thousand people in our school, we have developed a timetable that will allow us to teach all pupils in school at some point each week, whilst still following as far as possible, normal timetables. The following timetable will be used between Monday 15th March until Thursday 1st April.

Week beginningMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
15 March S4,5 & 6
+ Hub
S4,5 & 6
+ Hub
S4,5 & 6
+ Hub
S1,2 &3
Practical
Senior
Phase
+ Hub
S1,2 &3
Practical
Senior Phase
+ Hub
22 March S1,2 &3
Practical
Senior
Phase
+ Hub
S1,2 &3
Practical
Senior
Phase
+ Hub
S4,5 & 6
+ Hub
S4,5 & 6
+ Hub
S4,5 & 6
+ Hub
29 March S4,5 &6
+ Hub



S4,5 &6
+ Hub
S4,5 &6
+ Hub
S1,2 &3
Practical
Senior
Phase
+ Hub
 

 

S3, 4, 5 and 6 Pupils

Pupils will be following their normal timetable. Pupils have been informed about room allocations to take account of 2 metre distancing on Google Classrooms. Please ensure your child has taken a careful note of the classrooms they have been allocated for each subject.

If your child has P.E. on their timetable they should arrive in P.E kit and bring a change of clothes in case they get wet. Otherwise pupils are allowed to stay in P.E kit for the remainder of the day. This temporary amendment to our rules is necessary because we do not have changing room capacity at the current time.

In the days set aside for S1-3, where it also notes “Practical”, Senior pupils will receive individual invites through Google Classroom based on the work they are still to complete for SQA practical subjects and Argyll College Courses. Only those seniors invited should attend on these days.

S1 and S2 Pupils

Pupils will not be following their normal timetable. Instead there will be a programme of activities to help with the transition back into face to face learning.

S1 PupilsMorning
9.05 to 11.50 a.m.
Afternoon
12.40 to 3.20 p.m.
Thursday 18
March
Outdoor Learning
Activities
Numeracy Session
Friday 19 March  Literacy Session Wellbeing Session
Monday 22
March
Numeracy Session Wellbeing Session
Tuesday 23
March
Outdoor Learning
Activities
Literacy Session

 

S2 PupilsMorning
9.05 to 11.50 a.m.
Afternoon
12.40 to 3.20 p.m.
Thursday 18
March
Wellbeing Session Literacy Session
Friday 19 March  Literacy Session Outdoor Learning
Activities
Monday 22
March
Numeracy Session Outdoor Learning
Activities
Tuesday 23
March
Wellbeing Session Numeracy Session

 

For the Outdoor Learning Activities days your child should come to school in P.E kit and bring a change of clothes in case they get wet. If the weather is very bad then we have back up plans for indoor activities for the day.

As you can see all S1 pupils have an Outdoor Learning session on their first day back. They will be directed straight to the pitch where registers will be taken and full instructions given. S2 pupils will be directed to classrooms on Thursday morning where we will again spend some time explaining the plans for their days in school.

Senior Phase Assessment Calendar and Easter Revision

S4, 5 and 6 pupils will continue to focus on teaching and learning for the next 3 weeks up to the Easter Holidays. We will publish an Assessment Calendar and an Easter Revision Support Timetable in due course to support all pupils with the upcoming SQA Assessment process. In the meantime, please read your child’s report, which was issued today, and if you have any concerns then please contact your child’s Guidance Teacher.

Lateral Flow Testing

Please read the very detailed letter I sent yesterday on Lateral Flow Testing.

Hostel

Our school hostel has now contacted all pupils and arranged accommodation to allow them stay in the school hostel and attend school on the days noted above. If there are any questions concerning this arrangement, please contact Fran Bichard, Alex Craik or Lauren Morrison.

Transport

The Education Transport Department have been provided with the above timetables and have lists of those pupils who require transport on the days they are to be in school. The rules for national school transport do not require 2m distancing but do limit numbers on each mode of transport and do insist that pupils wear face-coverings throughout the journey.

School Meals

School lunches can be ordered as normal via the form on the school website from 3.00 p.m. the previous day until 9.30 a.m. that day. Lunches will be delivered to classrooms and pupils will go outside for lunch unless the weather is very bad. Pupils should bring jackets to school. We live in Argyll and it rains, a lot. If this is the case pupils will be allowed to eat lunch in their classroom. Please can I also remind you to top up your child’s Cashless Catering account online.

Cashless Catering Payments - All payments to pupil accounts should be made online via the Argyll and Bute Pay It facility. If you require the ten digit number please phone the school office who will help you.

The link is: https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/pay-it

Direct payments to parents/carers of secondary pupils entitled to free school meals will continue until a full time return to school, anticipated on 19th April, is achieved.

Arriving to school, welcome back assemblies and Basics.

All pupils should wear face coverings as they arrive to school between the gates / bus park and the front door. This will add a degree of precaution as pupils enter the building. On entering the building, pupils will be welcomed by staff who will be on hand with hand-sanitiser for everyone entering (as before). This has actually proven to be a lovely way to say “Hello” to each other each morning. Each pupil should then follow their normal timetable, attending the classroom noted by their class teacher on Google Classroom. It is essential they read this in advance as we don’t want dozens of pupils congregating at the office looking for timetables or room numbers.

There will be an assembly on the first Monday back for seniors; and the first Thursday back for BGE pupils. Both of these will be at 9.30 am in class and delivered by me over VC. At that assembly they will receive a warm welcome back, followed by a reminder of the basic school rules, including the new Covid ones. For example: we come to school each day, on time, in uniform, with the kit we need, show respect for ourselves and others; and that includes using the hand-sanitiser, wearing face coverings, keeping 2m apart, following the one-way system and wiping down our work spaces at the end of each session etc.

Pupils are not expected to keep 2m distance and wear face coverings outside in the social areas during lunch but are expected to do one or the other. A reminder, both precautions are required indoors at all times.

We expect all pupils to follow these rules and parents to support our ambitions in an effort to create some semblance of normalcy whilst adapting to the new environment we face. My thanks to you all in advance.

P7/S1 Transition

As part of our P7 transition programme I have been meeting with P7 classes from many of our partner primary schools. There are still some to go. Although I would have preferred to meet P7 pupils in person, I have found that as most children are so used to online now, that the sessions were still inter-active and enjoyable. In these sessions, the youngsters get to watch a video of Oban High School (called Heart and Soul, it’s on our YouTube channel), then I tell them more details about how we will look after them, about the differences and similarities between their primary school and the High School, then they ask questions… dozens of them. The sessions have gone well.

In addition to this, we will launch an information website for pupils, parents and carers after Easter. This site will contain useful information about the High School, a virtual tour of the campus and short information videos. The site also provides parents, carers and pupils with the opportunities to send us any questions they have. We will add videos with replies to Frequently Asked Questions at regular intervals throughout the summer term.

In the meantime, the Clan Deputes, Guidance Teachers, Mrs Binnie (PT Support) and staff in the support department are in regular contact with primary schools to move forward the arrangements for transition to the High School in August 2021.

As always, if you have any enquires regarding transition, please use the ‘Contact Us’ page which is on the school website and mark your message FAO: Mrs Morrison, DHT.

Parents in school

I am sorry to note that we must continue to ask that no parents come into the school grounds unless invited by school staff (or in an emergency). Pupils should continue to be dropped off at a safe distance and location away from the school. This ensures that pupils spread out when coming to school and that adults don’t mix around the school; the latter problem being a specific Covid spread concern repeatedly noted by the Government.

Please do not drive into McCall’s Terrace to drop off pupils. This issue was causing significant disruption to the bus service and a health and safety concern with parents trying to swing round in front of the school gates next to the pupil crossing, or by reversing into each other. It is much safer for you to drop off children away from the school and let them walk an extra few hundred yards; or more.

IT returns

Can I ask that all IT support we have provided, for example, Chromebooks and Dongles be returned before the Easter break please. This will enable cleansing and redistribution back to departments so that learning in classes can take place next term. Senior pupils should return the items by Wednesday 31st March and BGE pupils on April 1st. This is because we need the IT back on the last day your child is in. Work for the final Senior Phase or BGE lessons will be paper or researched-based and there will be no online delivery that day.

Could I also ask that items be handed into the office and addressed to Mrs Reynolds or to Mr Champion clearly stating which pupil / family is returning them. This will ensure an accurate record of return, you will be issued with a receipt illustrating that you have returned a borrowed item.

Community Consultation

Kevin Champion and Aine Cooney have just completed and analysed the results from the most recent consultation on online learning. I would encourage you all to watch the video link. I would like to thank all the pupils, parents and staff who shared their views and ideas. These observations help us understand how best we can support our children’s well-being and learning.

Support

For those youngsters who require additional support and amendments to the above structure of the days and weeks ahead, Mrs Binnie or Guidance Teachers will have already contacted parents. However, if anyone else still has concerns about their child and the anxieties that may be faced in returning to the school building, please contact your child’s Guidance Teacher.

I am sure that most parents have ensured that they have school uniform ready for next week. However, I am conscious there may be a few who are having financial difficulty in buying any clothes, school shirts or t-shirts alike. The Pastoral Team are keen to receive any spare or outgrown uniform or PE kit. We would be grateful if items could be washed, placed in a bag and dropped off at the school office, thank you.

I have previously mentioned that we are keen to support all our families in whatever way we can. Please ask for support, and we shall try and oblige.

Please use the Contact Us page on the website and email us with your question or concern, adding your child’s name and class; or contact your child’s guidance teacher directly.

I am really looking forward to welcoming all our pupils back into school next week. Whilst online learning has been working really well for most, there is no substitute for meeting up in person.

I hope you have a great week ahead.

Yours faithfully,

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


Video version of Mr Bain’s letter 12th March

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