Head Teacher Update - Letter 43

1st April in School

1st April 2021

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

I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones all safe and well.

Thank you

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all the staff in our schools for the outstanding work they
have been engaged in over the last three weeks. Since the Scottish Government announced
that all pupils should return at some stage each week, whilst all keeping 2 metres apart, it was
clear not all pupils could fit into most secondary schools and could certainly not operate
normally. Whilst we managed to open fully in Tiree, in Oban, the result as you know, was to
prioritise the seniors and give them three days each week and the junior school two days.
However, even after we welcomed each group back into the building, we still had to sub-divide
our classes across multiple classrooms, meaning that a teacher with a class of 30 children had
to teach that one class over three rooms. Fortunately, the media equipment we put in every
class and the virtual teaching expertise of our staff, meant we successfully delivered the
curriculum to everyone in both Oban and Tiree in a safe and productive manner. No mean feat
when considering that the teachers also had to prepare and provide additional materials for the
online classes not in the building at the same time. My thanks too to all the support staff who
continued to support our pupils accessing our Hub as well as supporting youngsters in almost
every classroom across the school each hour of the day.

It was a team effort and I am as proud of all the staff as I am all the pupils who showed great
adaptability and resilience, meeting the challenge of continual change.

Return date 19th April

The Scottish Government announced recently that all pupils in Scotland should return full-time,
all together each day, after the Easter break unless the scientific evidence suggests otherwise.
For all schools in Argyll and Bute, that will be on April 19th. We await further detailed guidance
from the Scottish Government on a number of practical issues around this return. However, at
the moment we are working on the assumption that all the same guidance we used prior to this
current lockdown will be in place but with the added precaution that all staff and pupils will be
wearing face coverings as they do now and that all Secondary pupils will be offered
asymptomatic testing kits as per the last information pack we issued. This guidance may
change but I feel it is important we have a clear plan for coming back to school before we break
up.

Of course not all staff are on holiday for the full two weeks. We have teachers offering Easter
Study support for those senior youngsters preparing for course assessments in April and May;
most teachers will spend time preparing the new assessments and support materials for the
new term; we have staff in maintaining/cleaning the buildings and updating the software and
computer facilities; and managers will be in adapting risk assessments and plans as soon as
the new guidance is issued on the 6th of April, ensuring that our schools are fully prepared to
meet the education needs and safety of all in our communities.

Transport

We are not aware of any changes to the Transport arrangements necessary for coming back
in April. All pupils will travel to school under the current arrangements. Parents are reminded
they are not permitted to come into school and that pupils should be dropped at a safe location
and a suitable distance away from the school to avoid parents gathering and to space out
pupils travelling to school. Parents should not come into McCall’s Terrace for drop offs.

Catering

There is no change to the catering arrangements. School meals will be available for all pupils
in school at lunchtime, and those entitled will receive free school meals. Direct payments to
parents / cares of secondary pupils entitled to free school meals will cease on 18th April. Please
continue to use the online payment system. This has proved very convenient for most and of
course avoids any cash handling. https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/pay-it

In-Service days / Senior Assessment Timetable

Please find attached an updated Senior Assessment timetable that takes account of the new
in-service days and some minor changes to subject times.

Please note that the Scottish Government has given all schools two extra In-service days to
support the assessment and moderation necessary to replace the SQA exams. All Argyll and
Bute schools have agreed to add Thursday 27th of May to the existing In-service day of Friday
28th. Each school has a flexible day, and Oban and Tiree staff have chosen Monday 3rd of May
to support their work.

IT returns

Can I ask that all IT support we have provided, for example, Chromebooks and Dongles be
returned on Monday 19th April. Please ensure you give the device to a member of staff noting
your name and address and get a receipt for it.

Support

I am well aware that this has been a very difficult time for many parents and pupils. We might
all be coming back into the building to continue our education, and this takes the pressure off
home life with online and blended learning issues, but these are merely replaced by new
concerns and anxiety about all being in the one building together again, or about the
forthcoming assessment period, or about transitioning from Primary to Secondary or from
Secondary to life after school. Whatever the concerns you have, we would be happy to try and
support you. Please take up this offer of support and contact your child’s Guidance teacher
using the “Contact Us” section of the website (noting your child’s name and class).

I hope the weather stays nice for us and that you all have a lovely two week holiday ahead.

Yours faithfully,

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


Mr Bain’s Easter Update 1st April

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