19th April in School
19th April 2020
Despite the difficult times we currently face, I hope you have enjoyed the recent weather and that this letter finds you and your family well. It is the first of many this term I would imagine.
I would like to open with my gratitude and thanks to all our staff and community partners who have throughout the holiday period continued to support our youngsters in the Hub; delivered free school meals; prepared food parcels for those shielding; continued to keep in touch with our most vulnerable pupils; made visors for our NHS colleagues; continued to keep our school buildings running; completed our Local Authority and Government reports and accounts; liaised with families over course choices; and to those who have worked tirelessly over the last fortnight to complete our new timetable.
All full course awards are effectively complete. There is no need to ask pupils for any further work linked to National 4, National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher courses. The Q&A sheet I provided before the holiday and included in the letters section of the website will answer all SQA questions.
What then will pupils do between now and the change of timetable and the start of new courses on the 4th of May?
From Monday 20th, the BGE work for S1-3 will continue to be set each Monday morning, with staff available to answer questions on the work set in the afternoon. Staff will go back into Google Classroom on the Wednesday and communicate with their S1-S3 classes asking if all are ok and taking any further questions. The work for that week should be completed by a time on Friday of the teacher’s choosing and comments will made to the pupils (for example, well done, thank you, holistic comments about the work - it will not necessarily be marked on the Friday). This is the same process as before the holiday.
When the teachers are not teaching S1-3 online, they will spend the time moderating the existing evidence provided by pupils from across the last session to advise the SQA; and work on developing the new online senior courses to be delivered from 4th May.
Senior pupils will continue or commence pupils work linked to the SQA Awards of Scottish Studies, Leadership and Mental Health and Well-being in the weeks prior to the change of timetable. These are all courses that most schools across the country engage in across the year. They lend themselves to online delivery and therefore we can “front load” them now to save us doing them later in the year. Undertaking these exceptionally useful courses now will help keep pupils academically engaged, so better preparing them for whole course delivery in May.
These courses are compulsory. They add to a suite of experiences that ensure our pupils are going into a very competitive workplace / university entrance environment on the same footing, if not slightly better than many other pupils across the country.
Advice for online learning
We know that our classes cannot be taught period by period. We are aware of the issues families face sharing devices, IT / internet performance issues during the day and the problem with teenagers doing work from home before Noon - on the whole. We are also aware of the difficulty that both parents and our staff face in trying to learn / teach from home with competing family commitments.
Therefore whatever work is provided can be done at a time best suited to both the pupil and the teacher – within a reasonable timeframe.
An important point to make is that work is regularly set, support is provided daily at some point and some degree of progress is made. The most important point to reiterate is that the health and well-being of both children and staff is paramount; and that means a flexible approach to our learning and teaching is required at this difficult time.
We all know our children need to keep academically motivated and engaged. It gives them some focus to the day and ensures they will be better placed to step back into school when the time comes. However, if pupils cannot do the work set until later in the day or at night for whatever reason, we can deal with that. All that matters is that they continue to be engaged with the online resources / teaching and send questions or answers to their teachers throughout the week, regardless of the time of day.
Remember, it is not possible to fill a child’s day with school work given they are working alone; neither is it desirable. Balance is the key. Do all the tasks set by teachers and then go and play, read a book, spend time chatting to friends or family. Stay mentally and physically healthy as well as learning. We need to keep learning but learning takes many forms; traditional school work delivered online is but one of these learning opportunities.
I hope I have provided you with some reassurance that we will move forward at a reasonable pace whilst ensuring that the health and well-being of all are foremost in mind.
As always, if anyone wishes to contact us about anything. Feel free to email your child’s Guidance Teacher or contact us at:
Stay home, stay online, stay safe, stay learning.
P A Bain
Executive Head Teacher
Oban High School, Tiree High School & Tiree Primary School