Latest Service Update - Schools

Following on from the First Minister’s announcement on the 19 December, schools can only open to in-person learning for children of key workers and vulnerable children from 5 January to mid-February, with remote learning continuing for all other children and young people. This will be reviewed 2 February 2021.

As the new term gets underway on the 11 January the children of keyworkers and more vulnerable learners will be supported in school buildings to engage with their Google Classroom as the curriculum will be delivered remotely to all learners.  This approach will ensure that all children and young people have equal access to their curriculum.  This is in keeping with updated national guidance.

Children and young people who are allocated a placement will attend their own school/ ELC setting with staff they already have pre-established relationships with.  Support will be provided for children and young people who attend Me2 provision or who are aged 3-14 and registered to attend a school or ELC setting in Aberdeen City.


Covid 19 Risk Assessment

The risk assessment process and national guidance has helped staff teams put in place a range of measures to support a safe return for children, young people and staff.  The control measures in school risk assessments change as we move to different tiers in keeping with the national guidance.  The most up to date copy of the school risk assessments is available on school websites. 

As always we are being guided by the Scottish Government in our approach to re-opening our schools and health surveillance arrangements are in place to monitor how the opening of school buildings impacts on the R number.

A plan has been published to share how organisations are working together to keep everyone safe. The child-friendly document emphasises to pupils the importance of supporting the health and wellbeing of others by self-isolating if displaying Coronavirus symptoms and staying away from school if feeling unwell. Council officers have been working with public health colleagues on an city-wide outbreak control plan, which is to be published soon. 




Face Coverings

Updated guidance on the use of face coverings in schools has now been issued by the Scottish Government

From Monday 31st August face coverings should (unless exemptions apply) be worn by: 

  • All adults and pupils in secondary schools must wear a face covering when moving around the school, such as in corridors and communal areas, where physical distancing is difficult to maintain  
  • All children aged 5 and over must wear a face covering on dedicated school transport. This is in line with guidance for public transport.  

There is no change for pupils in primary school who do not use school transport.

Local Authorities in Protection Levels 3 or 4 are required to ask senior phase students and staff to wear face coverings in classrooms as well as in communal areas.

Staff and pupils will be supported to wear face coverings over and above this guidance if they choose to do so.

More information can be found below in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Free school meals

If your child is entitled to free school meals and not attending school we will continue to make a payment to you to cover the costs of providing lunch for the duration of online learning. Children who are accessing school buildings will continue to receive a free school meal.

Frequently Asked Questions

 The First Minister has extended the Christmas holiday period to Monday 11 January 2021. From 11 January schools will work remotely providing online learning. This remote delivery is likely to take place over January with children returning on  1 February but the Scottish Government will review arrangements on 18 January. 

The new term began on 10 August 2020 and will finish  on 25 June 2021. 


For children of key workers and our most vulnerable children provision is being made to attend school on 6-8 January and 11-15 January. This will be for childcare only, and will be for the duration of your child's school day.   Parents have been advised by e-mail if they have been allocated an ‘in school’ placement. 

If you now require key worker childcare you will need to apply to the school directly to attend as the Key Worker Childcare Application form has closed now that the term has begun. 

Schools will also make provision for children who have any vulnerability. Schools and social work will make decisions about what this means, and will communicate directly with you about the support available to your child.  

All head teachers will make arrangements which best suit the needs and numbers of children attending their school.  

Category of key workers are defined by Scottish Government as follows (both parents/single parent must be key workers). The three categories of key workers are: 

  • Category 1 - Health and Care workers directly supporting COVID response, and associated staff; Health and Care workers supporting life threatening emergency work, as well as critical primary and community care provision; Energy suppliers (small numbers identified as top priority already); staff providing childcare/learning for other category 1 staff. 
  • Category 2 - All other Health and Care workers, and wider public sector workers providing emergency/critical welfare services (for example: fire, police, prisons, social workers), as well as those supporting our Critical National Infrastructure, without whom serious damage to the welfare of the people of Scotland could be caused. 
  • Category 3 - All workers (private, public or third sector) without whom there could be a significant impact on Scotland (but where the response to COVID-19, or the ability to perform essential tasks to keep the country running, would not be severely compromised).

Priority will be given to those in Categories 1 and 2 in the first instance 

Schools will be offering remote learning through Google Classroom to all school pupils from 11 January. Class teachers will be responsible for delivering remote learning to all pupils. 

Schools will offer parents the opportunity to come and collect a chromebook should they need one before 11 January. 


Your child's school will continue to provide information on their curriculum and study support arrangements. Any assessments which were scheduled will be re-arranged following the return to in-school learning. Your child's subject teacher will provide specific advice over assessment requirements; we know young people and parents may be anxious over the changes to the SQA requirements this year. If you or your child have questions, please contact your school. 

If your child is attending school you are asked to provide your child with a packed lunch or take advantage of school meals.   

If your child is entitled to free school meals and not attending school we will continue to make a payment to you to cover the costs of providing lunch for the duration of online learning.  Children who are accessing school buildings will continue to receive a free school meal.  

School transport will run as normal from 6 January to support any families who need to access their school.  

The Scottish Government has advised that the aim is for a full return to school buildings and face-to-face learning and teaching for all children on 1 February but this provisional arrangement will be reviewed on 18 January. 

In common with all Scottish Local Authorities, Aberdeen City Council’s Education Service  considered the implications of the published guidance to ensure a safe return to school buildings for all pupils.  Each school setting  responded to this with personalised plans  appropriate to individual school buildings.   Appropriate levels of PPE  were distributed to each Education setting and clear guidance has been shared with all staff.

As the Local Authority moves between Protection Levels school risk assessments are updated in keeping with the national strategic framework.

Aberdeen City Council and NHS Grampian work closely together to prevent and control infections in schools. We follow best practice in ensuring that schools follow national guidance in identifying and isolating people displaying Covid-19 symptoms prior to their being sent home for testing and isolation. 

In-school learning is  only offered to staff and pupils who are not  self-isolating and who present with no symptoms of COVID-19 in keeping with Scottish Government advice. 

Scottish Government guidance stipulated that physical distancing is not required between children or primary and nursery age.  Physical distancing is to be promoted in secondary schools where possible. Adults working in schools should maintain a physical distance of 2m from pupils and from each other. 

Secondary schools use a two-pronged approach to physical distancing  – increasing separation and decreasing interaction. 

One way systems through corridors, staggered arrivals and departures, new protocols for parents dropping off and picking up children, arranging of desks and other furniture to support distancing, appropriate signage and briefing parents and pupils ahead of the return to school  have played a part in maintaining safe distancing. 

Staff are  carefully considering the aspects of curricular areas being taught to promote physical distancing. 

Whilst in Protection Level 4 all PE will take place outside.

Arrangements for safe use of toilet facilities  have been planned at individual school level, in line with guidance issued by the local authority. 

Breaks and lunchtimes may be staggered. 

Pupils  are discouraged from using public and school transport as much as possible with walking and cycling being promoted where it is safe to do so. A ‘Park and Stride’ system for parents dropping of their children  has been  introduced. Transport guidance clearly stipulated the mitigations to be in place for the new term and we have worked  with Transport providers to ensure all measures are in place.  

All children and young people who travel by school transport (primary and secondary) will be expected to wear a face covering from Monday 31 August.

Cross-border transport for Aberdeenshire pupils attending an Aberdeen City school will operate as before. 

There are very good medical reasons why some children are unable to wear a face covering. We ask that you advise the school if your child is exempt from wearing a face covering, details of those who are exempt are available in the linked national guidance

Please advise your child's school of any exemptions so that we can ensure that we are able to advise transport providers of these exceptions.  

Our schools will brief pupils on the use of face coverings. It would be helpful if you could discuss these changes with your child and talk through how to wear and dispose of face coverings.  A helpful short film is linked to assist you 

A small supply will be available in school for any pupil who forgets their face covering.

A health and wellbeing framework is being developed to support the needs of staff, learners and families and ensure appropriate support mechanisms are in place for all. As part of this work professional learning opportunities have been identified to support and enhance the skillset of practitioners within this area. 

There will be an additional focus on Health and Wellbeing, including mental wellbeing, in the curriculum and key resources to support this have been drafted into support documents for schools.  This is further supported by the launch of our Educational Psychology Service Online Hub, which has various support materials for parents, carers and staff.  

We are developing a citywide collaborative to help support the health of children and young people. This will support the future development of our Hubs.   

Hubs for those in need of care and protection will continue to play an important part in our continuum. It is expected that some pupils will also require support in adapting to the return to school buildings.  

Children with complex additional support needs will be contacted by schools to help plan an effective transition back into school buildings This planning will include parents and carers with Educational Psychology support where appropriate.  

Test and Protect training will be given to all school staff who will be expected to adhere to that guidance at all times. Continuity plans will be in place in order to mitigate the impact of staff having to suddenly self-isolate. 

There is  an increased focus on Health & Wellbeing, ensuring that all children and young people   are welcomed back into the school building and appropriate time is given to re-establishing relationships and reflecting on the wellbeing needs of individuals.  Increased attention is being given to Literacy and Numeracy to ensure that any loss of learning in these areas is identified and addressed appropriately.  

Practitioners l deliver learning face to face, using creative approaches to enable and continue to support best practice while recognising that increased outdoor learning and digital learning will continue where appropriate.

The Scottish Government recognises the negative impact of the pandemic on ELC expansion programmes and have temporarily removed the duty to deliver 1140 hours. This takes into account the challenges around social distancing with very young children and delays to the capital programme resulting from, the pandemic impact on our ability to offer 1140 hours from August 2020. 

It is our aspiration to deliver 600 hours over 20/21 whilst recognising that this may be a challenge in some settings. 

Induction Period

We appreciate children will require additional time to reintegrated into nursery. It is important relationships are developed and the settling in period reflects the needs of the children.

To this end, Aberdeen City Council have extended the induction period for children entering/returning to Early Learning and Childcare to ensure this can take place. Where possible, when a child is settling into the nursery, this should be undertaken in an outdoor area with the parent and away from other children.

School will be in touch with you with dates for you and your children to attend nursery settings in meetings.

Funded Providers

Early Learning and Childcare providers based in Aberdeen who have applied to Aberdeen City Council to become a Funded Provider to deliver Early Learning and Childcare will be able to offer additional hours. Please contact the provider directly to confirm what model of provision they are able to offer.

Blended Placements

In line with Aberdeen City Council’s route map and current Scottish Government guidance, local authority nursery setting will accommodate blended placements with ELC providers.

A blended placement relates to a child attending more than one ELC setting (e.g. a local authority and a private nursery or a local authority nursery and a childminder).

From October 28 2020 Aberdeen City Council will seek to accommodate blended placements within the following parameters:

A blended placement can consist of two registered settings only.

Both settings will need to be in agreement.

Please note that some providers may not wish to accommodate a blended placement and it is optional if they wish to do so.

Parents / carers are advised to check with a provider to confirm whether they are willing to accommodate a blended arrangement.

Preferred patterns of attendance

In the first instance, families are encouraged to use one setting, where possible.

If a blended placement is required – preferred pattern of attendance is on separate days.

A child attending settings on the same day to be permitted, where it is necessary and there are no alternative childcare arrangements available - exceptions to be made for childminders and playgroups due to the smaller size of setting.

The SQA have advised that the National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exam diet will not run in session 2020/21.  We will continue to be guided by SQA.


Individual pupils were  assessed with consideration given to medical needs, personal and intimate care needs, health and wellbeing needs, the learning environment, daily routines etc. This  meant an updating of risk assessments which already exist for children and young people with more complex needs. Individual plans were completed in collaboration with parents and carers. 

All arrangements reflect current national guidance. 

Schools continue  to use Local Authority guidance to deliver transition support.  Individual schools  contact families if there were any changes to their transition programme.

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