Latest Service Update - Schools

Service changes in response to local lockdown:

The Education Service continues to prepare for the re-opening of school buildings this week (commencing August 10).  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.  We look forward to welcoming groups of children for orientation visits next week. 


The First Minister announced the intention to open schools full-time in August subject to appropriate mitigations being in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 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.

The Scottish Government guidance on the re-opening of school buildings was published on 30th July and is based on the scientific information published on the 16th July. We welcome the publication of national guidance information and have reveiwed the content to will be reviewed the content to support our planning.   

We plan to send a communication to parents on 3August to clarify the range of mitigations in place to support a safe return to school buildings. 

In the meantime, we have extended the emergency childcare service until Friday 7 August to assist families who still require this provision.

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

School specific information will be issued directly by schools to parents and carers as soon as it is available. 

Online learning support

An online learning support hub has been set up with different portals for pupils, parents/guardians and teachers. Pupils will be able to access the curriculum.  

Visit the online learning support hub

Pupils with no broadband access at home will be given a laptop along with a wifi connection device. Schools are organising provision for affected pupils, which is being made possible thanks to support from BT. 

Free school meals

Supermarket vouchers are to be given to parents or guardians of pupils eligible for free school meals so they do not have to make a journey into schools during the period of school building closures. 

The scheme will mean vouchers to the value of £25 for each child will be issued for a 10-day period, the value per day being higher than the current price of a school meal. Vouchers will be issued fortnightly, also covering the summer holiday period. 

Vouchers will be emailed to parents or guardians who have provided an email address to their school and by text message where only a mobile telephone number is held. Any eligible parents or guardians who do not have access to email or a mobile phone should phone the Virtual School Helpline for help on 01224 523322. 

The provision of free school meal vouchers will cease on August 14th with an on-site meals service resuming in schools on the 17th August. 

During the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) School Closures, parents/carers of P1 to P3 pupils who are in receipt of the qualifying benefits for free school meals are requested to apply for free school meals in order to receive meal vouchers. When schools return, all P1 to P3 pupils will resume their automatic entitlement. 

Further Assistance 

A school helpline has been established to support children and families in need of assistance. The number is 01224 523322 and is available from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Scottish Government is now committed to a 100% return for children and young people to school buildings from August if the scientific advice supports this.  The Government confirmed this plan on the 30th July.

Staff teams will review the published guidance on Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th August and update risk assessments and arrangements as necessary.  Children and young people will visit school buildings for an orientation session on either Wednesday 12th, Thursday 13th or Friday 14th August.  At this point we anticipate all schools being open to all pupils from Monday 17th August. 

The term will end on the 3 July 2020. The new term will start on 10 August 2020 (when teachers will return in advance of pupils) with small groups welcomed into the school buildings over the first week , all children will attend 5 days from 17 August.  The term and will finish one week earlier on 25 June 2021.  


Education is a devolved area and we are guided by the Scottish Government on this issue. 

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

The Local Delivery Phasing Plan incorporates the principles and expectations set out in national blended learning guidance.  The development of a Local Authority Plan enabled Head Teachers and staff to develop Individual Schools Recovery Plans underpinned by national guidance in order to realise consistency in approaches wherever possible.  

The LDPP is underpinned by guiding principles mirroring national guidance including: the following of medical advice at all times; the wellbeing of all pupils and staff; risk assessments; public health measures, balancing at home and in-school learning and clear and effective communications with stakeholders.  

The LDPP and associated school Plans will be utilised if the Scottish Government advice of the need to deliver a ‘blended’ education model. 

The service has engaged with pupils and parents and carers in the development of the LDPP. More extensive engagement with the parent and pupil forum helped shape School Recovery Plans. Accessible versions of the Local Delivery Phasing Plan are available to support communication with parents, carers, children and young people and the FAQs on the Aberdeen City Website will continue to be updated as planning progresses. 

The full LDPP can be found here:

A summary version is also available for parents and carers. 

The updated national return to school guidance advises that many of the mitigations outlined in the LDPP should remain in place.  Schools are currently updating their School Plans to clarify the mitigations that will be in place when the children all return to school.

School buildings will open for groups of children and young people from 12 August 2020. 

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 will only be 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 will 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 will all play a part in maintaining safe distancing.

Staff will carefully consider the aspects of curricular areas being taught to promote physical distancing’. 

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

Pupils will be asked to bring packed lunches or bring in snacks with the supermarket vouchers provided during week beginning 10th August.  Breaks and lunchtimes may be staggered.  The provision of free school meal vouchers will cease on August 14th with an on-site meals service resuming in schools on the 17th August.

Pupils will be 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 will be introduced.

Transport guidance clearly stipulated the mitigations to be in place for the new term and we are working with Transport providers to ensure all measures are in place. 

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

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 will be 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 will be given to Literacy and Numeracy to ensure that any loss of learning in these areas is identified and addressed appropriately.    

Practitioners will 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 remove the duty to deliver 1140 hours. This takes into account the challenges around social distancing 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

Aberdeen City Council school nurseries are looking forward to safely welcoming back children.

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 updated Scottish Government guidance Aberdeen City Council will seek to minimise the number of contacts and risk of transmission, attendance at multiple ELC settings should be reduced as far as possible. To this end, Aberdeen City local authority nurseries will not be accommodating any blended placement with any ELC provider except with a childminder.

The SQA have advised that they intend to run the exam diet next year.  We will continue to be guided by SQA. 


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

All arrangements will reflect current national guidance. 

Schools are currently using Local Authority guidance to deliver transition support.  Individual schools will contact families if there are any changes to their transition programme. 

The holiday pattern -including in-service days - for the remainder of the session is unchanged with the exception of finishing a week earlier than planned on 25 June 2021. This is because schools are reopening a week earlier.   

Janitors will be largely unaffected, as they are employed 52-weeks per year and request and book annual leave as any other full-year employee would; their holidays not being restricted to school holiday periods. Janitors will have a large part to play in supporting schools with reconfiguration over the coming months. 

We are asking our catering and cleaning team members to show some flexibility in these unprecedented times. Catering team members are employed on 39-week contracts, so would not have been contracted to return to work until Monday 17 August. Depending on the level of catering provision that will be required in August, there may be a need for catering staff to return one week early. We will keep in touch with catering staff as detail becomes available. 

Cleaning team members who service our schools are employed on 41-week contracts and would have been due to return to work on Monday 29 July, to undertake the annual two-week deep clean of the school buildings. This work is being brought forward, to ensure that full deep cleans are carried out in all schools prior to the return of pupils. Service Managers will work with our People & Organisation team to ensure that employees are not disadvantaged as a result of showing  flexibility in  helping with these arrangements. 

 A move back to lockdown would see a return to online home learning and Hub provision for those in need of care and protection unless advised to offer a blended learning provision.


In order to prioritise resources to support the safe re-opening of schools from August, and to help minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19, let bookings in all schools and community learning centres in Aberdeen City continue to be suspended. 

This decision will be reviewed again at the end of September, based on the latest available national and local guidance, and a further update will be provided at that time. 

In the meantime no bookings for lets in educational establishments, including schools and community learning centres, will be accepted. This includes bookings for both indoor and outdoor activities within these establishments.

In order to prioritise resources to support the safe re-opening of schools from August, and to help minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19, let bookings in all schools and community learning centres in Aberdeen City continue to be suspended. 

This decision will be reviewed again at the end of September, based on the latest available national and local guidance, and a further update will be provided at that time. 

In the meantime no bookings for lets in educational establishments, including schools and community learning centres, will be accepted. This includes bookings for both indoor and outdoor activities within these establishments.

In order to support the safe re-opening of schools and to help minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19, playing fields which form part of a main school site remain closed to the public. However, our standalone school playing fields which are not physically attached to a school, are now accessible for general recreation use by members of the public. The open sites are: Rubislaw Playing Fields, Harlaw Road Playing Fields, Harlaw Playing Fields (Groats Road), Tullos Playing Fields, and the Woodies. This arrangement will be kept under review, and should there be any requirement to make changes to the access to these facilities, in order to remain in line with national and local guidance, updates will be posted on this page.

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