Latest Service Update - Schools


Primary pupils  

All children in primaries 4 to 7 will return to school buildings on a full-time basis from the 15 March. From 15 March all primary school children will also be able to return to regulated childcare, including after school and breakfast clubs. Primary school leaders have advised families of arrangements for their P4-7 children.  

Secondary proposals  

Secondary pupils will return full time after the Easter holiday period. Local Authorities are guided by the Scottish Government to use the two weeks immediately prior to the holiday period (15 March to 26 March 2021) flexibly to prepare young people for a full return whilst building on the success of the Phase 1 arrangements. Scottish Government guidance on the Phase 2 return states that, ‘Schools should prioritise subject areas and cohorts of learners where there is greatest need as identified by the school, for example, targeted support for learners who may struggle with the transition back to secondary school or to allow access to practical facilities to support certification’. The service has carefully reviewed the national guidance and considered the groups of learners who should be targeted for time in school.

From the 15th March all secondary schools will continue to maintain the provision of key worker childcare and provision for more vulnerable learners. Given the constraints of 2m distancing in secondary schools up to Easter, only one third of pupils can attend at one time and there is a risk that the quality of the curriculum will be compromised if we try to deliver the timetabled curriculum in school for all pupils. Doing so would essentially result in pupils only receiving one third of their entitlement so we have taken a hands on approach to ensure that learning continues right up to the end of term.

High priority will be given to maintaining the delivery of the remote curriculum for all pupils. Young people should continue to engage with their Google Classroom as staff will continue posting and engaging with young people online. Young people in the senior phase who have been attending school to complete practical courses should continue to attend.

More senior phase pupils will be invited to attend in school learning where there are concerns about their readiness for certification. All pupils in the senior phase who have not been attending in school learning and all young people across the broad general education will be invited to attend school for 2 wellbeing sessions before the end of term. These sessions will provide an opportunity for young people to reconnect with staff and friends, make sense of current circumstances and prepare for in school learning next term. These sessions will also offer an opportunity for staff to identify any further young people who may need some additional support prior to the end of term. The three different groups of building users (childcare, senior phase and those invited in to reconnect) will be kept in separate bubbles to limit any chance of transmission of Covid-19 and as a result staff movement between bubbles will be limited.  

School leadership teams are currently working through the finer details such as the provision of school transport; splitting staff across three in school provisions and continuing the operation of remote learning for all.  Head teachers will share more detailed plans with you when they have comprehensively considered the logistics to ensure that the last two weeks of term run smoothly. 

 Lateral flow tests will continue to be available to all staff and all secondary pupils.  

Covid 19 Risk Assessment

Pupils returned to full-time education in Aberdeen on Monday 17th August and school have implemented a range of different operating models since them. The risk assessment process and national guidance has helped staff teams put in place a range of measures to support the safe school attendance of children and young people through the regular review of Covid controls.  As risk assessments are amended, they are posted on school websites.  

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 31 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.  

From the 15th March all young people in secondary schools will be required to wear a face covering whilst in school unless an exception applies. 

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

From 15 March all children in Primaries 4-7 will be able to attend in school learning.  All young people in secondary schools will return to full time in school learning from 12 April.

Frequently Asked Questions

From 15th March all children in Primaries 4-7 will be able to attend in school learning.  All young people in secondary schools will return to full time in school learning from 12th April. 

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


Some children on the shielding list will continue to be offered a remote curricular offer through Google Classroom. Parents can request a chromebook through school. 


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.   

Children who are accessing school buildings will continue to receive a free school meal.  

School transport will run as normal.  

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. 

All staff and pupils in secondary school can voluntarily undertake lateral flow testing twice weekly to help minimise the spread of the virus.  We currently have a high uptake of these tests.

Scottish Government guidance stipulated that physical distancing is not required between children or primary and nursery age although secondary schools have been asked to implement 2m physical distancing up to the Easter holidays 2021. 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 unless excempt.

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. 

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 are keen to reduce the number of settings a child attends in a day where possible.  

The SQA have advised that the National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exam diet will not run in session 2020/21. Assessment arrangements will be communicated through schools in due course. We will continue to be guided by SQA. You can find here the Parent & Carer Guide to the Alternative Certification Model – Demonstrated Attainment.


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.

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  reopened a week earlier.   

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