Return to school in August

Good evening,

You will be aware of the news today included in the earlier post about the announcement of a full return to school in August. As you know we have been working on our proposed blended model as part of the national recovery plan for pupils returning to school in August. We have the proposed model shared at the Parent Council meeting on June 18th based on 2m social distancing and we have been preparing a model for 1m social distancing.

As you know, we will do all we can to welcome our children back to school in August. For now, we have been asked to have the proposal and contingency plans in place until more information is provided. This means we will continue with current plans until advised of new guidelines for the return. On Friday, we will email you as planned the details of your child’s group for returning in August and the teacher who will be the key point of contact. When we know of any changes that we can make to the group structures/ attendance at school, we will do so. We are also providing information to the authority about staffing required for our proposed model to move to the 3 & 2 version (children in school 50% of the time over 2 weeks). We hope to have more news of this soon.

Meantime, thank you for your ongoing support – we will keep you up-to-date with any developments as soon as we are able to. With very best wishes, Mrs Snedden

Highland Council Chair reacts to Education Announcement

Councillor John Finlayson, Chair of the Highland Council’s Education Committee responded to the announcement today by John Swinney, Deputy First Minister on the return of education.

“Today’s announcement by the Deputy First Minister that the planning assumption will now be for a full return to school for all pupils in August if it is safe to do so, is very welcome news for everyone and it reflects the aspirations that have been communicated to me over recent days by so many parents.

“The education of our young people is extremely important in terms of their educational, mental and social development, as well as their future opportunities and outcomes.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our school staff and our parents and pupils for their hard work and collaboration throughout the period of lockdown and especially over recent weeks when they have been developing plans to return pupils to school taking account of the rules that are currently in place. It has been a very difficult time in many ways for all.

“The safety of our children, our young people and all our staff has been paramount in all our preparations for return to school which include detailed planning and risk assessments. Safety will of course remain a top priority.

“We look forward to detailed guidance and information on new resources to enable us to take these preparations forward at pace, for a full return of pupils in August. We will work with the Scottish Government, trade unions, teaching staff, parents, and children and young people themselves to consider the implications and measures necessary.

“Whilst there will be a number of precautions and considerations, safety will remain the number one priority.

He added:

“It should not be forgotten that a full return to education in August will only be possible with continued adherence to national guidance and scientific advice and everyone has played an important role in helping to suppress the virus in our community. We cannot become complacent.”

We will send more information home later as soon as we can.

MOL-athon Update

As a whole school community we are still working towards our MOL-athon Strava challenge. We are aiming to travel 40,000KM (around the world) by the end of the summer term.

If you are not able to upload kilometre’s travelled via Strava please complete the attached google form. This has also been issued as a whole school assignment via Google Classroom.

Google Form link for STRAVA

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MOL August 2020 draft proposal and parent preference form

The proposed model for re-opening school in August 2020 at Milton of Leys enables pupils to attend schools two days per week. As shared at the Parent Council meeting last night, this is subject to change depending on government and local authority guidance and has the safety and well-being of pupils, staff and families at the centre.

We are expected to be able to share with the whole school community the draft proposal next week following further expected guidance from the local authority. At this stage we will share detailed plans for our expected model based on the most up-to-date requirements.

Our draft model is based on current guidance to maximise face-to-face contact in-school for pupils when schools return in August with the current 2m social distancing requirement. We have planned for this taking into account our local factors of projected school roll, staffing and school space. We appreciate that this proposal may need to be revised if guidance changes before we begin school on August 12th 2020.

To help support parents with work commitments, we are sending out this short survey which asks you to state a preference between Monday&Tuesday OR Wednesday&Thursday for your children. We will take into account siblings (including nursery) when allocating days for next session. Please submit your form by 10am on Tuesday June 23rd. As mentioned last night we aim to confirm the days of the week, child’s group and key adult/teacher for August by the end of the day on June 26th.

For now though, thank you so much for the fantastic support you have given the school as a community. It was wonderful to have so many parents join the Parent Council meeting last night – over 90 households! We can’t wait to have the children back in school with us again in August. Happy weekend!

Parent Preference form for August 2020

Proposed Model for School MOL

Highland Council sets out careful and gradual approach on school’s return to Education and Learning

Highland Council news release

Today, The Highland Council’s approach to a phased reopening of schools and Education Learning and Care (ELC) settings in the Highland region was discussed by Members at the Recovery Board.

Guided by the national framework, Highland Council will look at the local and individual circumstances of each of it’s 203 school and ELC settings to provide the safest and most valuable learning experience possible to its 50,000 children and young people when term resumes in August.

Newly appointed Executive Chief Officer for Education and Learning, Paul Senior, has commissioned a programme management office (PMO) to ensure the effective delivery of this programme of work. The PMO, comprised of 11 sub-groups, consists of a range of local area partners, stakeholders and providers, meeting weekly to develop operational plans, risks assessments and develop a shared approach to progressing matters. These 11 Sub Groups cover the following areas:

  • Transport
  • Communications
  • ELC
  • Catering
  • Facilities Management
  • People
  • ICT
  • North Area Project
  • West Area Project
  • Mid Area Project
  • South Area Project

Executive Chief Officer for Education and Learning, Paul Senior, said: “Wellbeing and safety is a top priority for all our children, staff and communities. There are 203 schools in the Highlands, all with different sizes and configurations in response to the needs of their respective communities. We will continue to work with our key partners, stakeholders and providers to ensure our educational settings are safe but also positioned to provide the best possible Learning and Teaching experiences for our children and young people, taking account of the restrictions presented by the Covid-19 crisis”.

Chair of the Education Committee, Cllr John Finlayson, added: “The Recovery Board has discussed the many areas needed for deliberation to safely get our young people back to school. Future plans and risk assessments will take account of children’s educational outcomes, equal opportunities, social and emotional needs and their rights.

Communication with parents is key and plans at individual school level will, of course, be informed by national guidance, authority guidance and very importantly local circumstances.  We all want to get our young people back in the school setting as soon as possible, but this needs to be done as safely as possible”.

Chair of the Recovery Board and Depute Leader Alasdair Christie said: “The Recovery Board welcomed the proposals put forward today for the return of Education in Highland. We will all be working together with parents and communities to ensure that the arrangements are as smooth as possible and in line with government guidelines.”

Council Chief Executive highlights importance of a ‘clear simple message’

Chief Executive of The Highland Council, Donna Manson was invited to give evidence at the Scottish Parliament’s COVID-19 Committee on Wednesday 17 June.

Mrs Manson’s advice to the Committee was the importance of a clear and simple national message during the COVID-19 emergency.

Mrs Manson said: “We have been having member briefings every week and listening to the very different issues and anxieties from one part of Highland to another. There has been positivity around the simple messaging that’s been coming out on a daily basis and the one thing that has come back from all of our communities is the importance of having a simple message for everyone to follow.

“We really feel that an inclusive message for the long-term future is really important and that national message in communities has kept everyone safe and it’s kept everybody together.”

Cllr Margaret Davidson added: “Tourism is a vital part of our infrastructure and our employment levels in remote and rural areas. We need to welcome back many people that we’ve lost over the last year or the reality will be that many small enterprises and services in the Highlands won’t be able to function because we won’t have the staff.

“I hope Highland Council’ s evidence to the Covid 19 committee will help to inform decision making about how Scotland should gradually and safely release from lockdown.

“We are closely monitoring the latest guidance emerging as we hope to move into Phase Two of the Route-map and we look forward to supporting our communities and businesses in preparing safely for the time we can get our economy going and welcome visitors back to the Highlands.”

The committee can be viewed on the Scottish Parliament’s website:

https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/covid-19-committee-june-17-2020