Latest Service Update - Schools

The Education Minister’s announcement of  23 June indicates the aim to open schools full-time in August should circumstances allow. As always we will be guided by the Scottish Government in our approach to re-opening our schools. A full return is contingent on the virus being suppressed and that the outcomes we are working towards are based on the blended approach which remains the national approach at present.  We will continue to keep parents and carers advised as best we can as and when circumstances change

Each local authority has been asked to produce a Local Delivery Phasing Plan which provides clear information and support for schools for planning return and reopening on 12 August 2020.  This is a live document which will be updated to reflect the most up to date Scottish Government guidance. 

More details can be found in the Local Delivery Phasing Plan (LDPP) below; 

 

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. 

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. 

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 intend to confirm this plan in July. 

If we are advised in July that we can progress with a 100% return and the updated Physical Distancing Guidance can easily be put in place, we will open for groups of pupils from Wednesday 12 August.  This will allow staff two days to review plans in view of the updated Physical Distancing Guidance on Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 August.  This review is necessary to ensure the safe return of children and young people to our school buildings.

If we are advised of a 100% return, but the Physical Distancing Guidance published over summer requires a change to anticipated health and safety practices, we are hopeful that we can avoid delays to schools reopening thanks to the detailed planning we have already undertaken. However, our first priority is the safety of pupils and significant additional considerations could delay re-opening by a few days.  We will do all we can to avoid this scenario, but, as yet, we have no information about any changes being proposed in the updated Physical Distancing Guidance and will update parents and carers as soon as we have further details.

If the Scottish Government advise that we require to return to a blended model of education the school Contingency Plan will apply. The school will send a copy of their Contingency plan to parents and carers to make them aware of arrangements
 

The holiday pattern for this academic year 2019/2020 including in-service days is unchanged. The term will end on the 3 July 2020. The new term will start on 10 August 2020 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 basing the phased reopening of school on the Scottish Government’s ‘A Strategic framework for reopening schools, early learning and childcare provision in Scotland’. 

The framework and associated guidance documents enable broad national consistency by stipulating what ‘should’ be done but also allows Aberdeen City Council local flexibility to adapt approaches that best suit our communities’ needs. As a result, we are building an agile system ready to respond to either a return to lockdown or progression to Phase 4 of the Route map. Details are available in our Local Delivery Phasing Plan (LDPP).  Updated guidance is anticipated in July and the Education Service will review the guidance and plan next steps as soon as the guidance is available.

The LDPP incorporates the principles and expectations set out in national guidance and enables 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 service has engaged with pupils and parents and carers in the development of the LDPP. More extensive engagement with the parent and pupil forum is anticipated as School 

Recovery Plans are developed. Accessible versions of the Local Delivery Phasing Plan are available to support communication with parents and carers and 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. 

Please note that this is a live document which precedes the Scottish Government’s announcement of 23 June affirming a commitment to a full return of schools in August. As such, the document is subject to change when new Scottish Government guidance is published in July. 

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 shielding, self-isolating and who present with no symptoms of COVID-19 in keeping with Scottish Government advice. 
 

The Scottish Government are revising the Physical Distancing Guidance for schools and anticipate publishing this guidance during the summer holiday period.  This guidance will outline any adaptions required to school buildings and health and safety practices to ensure a safe return to school buildings for pupils and staff. The guidance below refers to the plans currently in place and are subject to change.
There will be a two-pronged approach to physical distancing  – increasing separation and decreasing interaction. In order to adhere to 2 metre distancing the likelihood is that about a third of pupils will be allowed to attend schools at any one time, although this will differ from school to school. 
 

 

Staff will carefully consider the aspects of curricular areas being taught to ensure physical distancing’. This may lead to changes in the order of courses.  Staff will carefully consider their plans to ensure that ‘in school’ learning doesn’t put any child or young person at risk.  
 

Colleagues are currently considering the implications of physical distancing measures in toilets and changing rooms.  Arrangements for safe use of toilet facilities are being planned at individual school level, in line with guidance issued by the local authority. These arrangements will be communicated with pupils and parents prior to return. 

Pupils in school over lunchtime will be asked to bring packed lunches or bring in snacks with the supermarket vouchers provided and will be asked to remain on school grounds. 
 

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. Where none of these options is appropriate or when pupils have additional support needs then school transport will be provided with larger vehicles and seating distancing in place. Escorts will be in operation where available. There are likely to be considerable challenges in securing sufficient transport and we are currently working hard to address this area as best we can. 

Cross-border transport for Aberdeenshire pupils attending an Aberdeen City school will require input from Aberdeenshire Council’s Passenger Transport Unit. 
 

A health and wellbeing framework will be developed to support the needs of staff, learners and families and ensure appropriate support mechanisms are in place for all. 

There will be an additional focus on Health and Wellbeing, including mental wellbeing, in the curriculum and we are developing a citywide collaborative to help support the health of children and young people. 

Hubs for those in need of care and protection will continue to play an important part in our continuum as we embark upon blended learning. It is expected that some pupils will also require support in adapting to the new blended learning model. 

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 although this area may present some challenges. 
 

On 23 June, John Swinney, the Depute First Minister (DFM), made a statement which detailed the ambition of The Scottish Government for all children and young people to return to school full-time in August 2020.  This means that the planning assumptions schools had been working to have now changed.  Our School Return Plans will now become our Contingency Plans.
 
The Scottish Government are now committed to a 100% return for children and young people to school buildings from August if the scientific advice supports this.  The Government intend to confirm this plan in July and the FAQs ad School Return Plans will be updated accordingly.  
In the meantime, the Scottish Government are revising the Physical Distancing Guidance for schools and anticipate publishing this guidance during the summer holiday period.  This guidance will outline any adaptions required to school buildings and health and safety practices to ensure a safe return to school buildings for pupils and staff. 
 
This sees us head into the summer holidays with three possible scenarios for August 2020:
 

  1. A 100% return with minimal adaptions to normal practice
  2. A 100% return with significant adaptions to normal practice
  3. A blended return to school should the scientific evidence not support a 100% return 

Groups of staff are returning to schools in June to prepare for the safe re-opening of school buildings on 12 August 2020. This planning includes consideration of an appropriate curriculum from August. 
 

We are currently in the process of determining how many teachers will be in a position to deliver ‘in school’ learning.  Some staff may continue to deliver ‘in home’ learning if they are shielding and cannot attend school buildings. 
 

Local Authorities are currently awaiting further guidance from the Scottish Government regarding the criteria for key workers status. Schools will reopen with the appropriate number of teachers to deliver face to face lessons in school and decisions will be taken on the provision of childcare when we are clear on if a blended or 100% model is being favoured by The Scottish Government.

 

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. Parents and carers have been asked to identify their preferred location of provision to enable allocations to be made. 

The Early Years’ Service will maintain provision of Emergency Childcare. Consideration is also being given to how best to manage children moving between their ‘in school’ learning in their local school and their access to Emergency Childcare provision and where possible this will be addressed through the provision of Key Worker childcare in individual schools. 
 

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

 

The following approach presumes that physical distancing will still be required from August. We are unable to confirm plans until in receipt of the updated Physical Distancing Guidance over summer.

There are two distinct aspects to Secondary education. S1-S3 pupils undertake broad general education and, as a result, we will be able to limit interaction by having pupil groups in one classroom space with teaching staff moving between a limited number of classes. 

Some movement may be required to allow for specialism for S3 pupils but this will be risk assessed first at individual school level and movements will be staggered to limit interaction. 

The S1-S3 curriculum will focus on health and wellbeing, literacy and numeracy. 

In the S4-6 Senior Phase young people specialise in a range of specific subjects. In order to access specialist subject teaching, including practical rooms, they will have to move between areas, as required. 

Where practical rooms and equipment are required for SQA purposes, risk assessments will be required to ensure social distancing and effective infection control. 

The following approach presumes that physical distancing will still be required from August. We are unable to confirm plans until in receipt of the updated Physical Distancing Guidance over summer.

The requirement for social distancing may have an impact on children and young people with additional support needs. Additional or alternative spaces may be utilised if available, regardless of where they normally learn. Greater flexibility will be realised through the creative use of outdoor space. 

All specials schools have continued to offer support to a proportion of children and young people over the last 11 weeks and the current working practices will be developed to incorporate the gradual re-entry of all children. 

Rotas will be carefully considered to ensure that we continue to mitigate risk. Availability of transport will be a factor in determining groupings. 

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. 
 

We are currently reviewing our Emergency Childcare and Hub provision to attempt to continue to deliver a service which enables children to access their ‘in school’ learning.  If children return to a 100% model of ‘in school’ learning the provision of Emergency Chidlcare will cease.

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. 
 

See also comments on the Scottish Government announcement of 23 June. The Scottish Government will take decisions based on the scientific evidence and we may be asked to move up or down a stage on the Route Map at short notice. This may include a reduction of the 2 metre rule over time. 

In order to be prepared schools will be asked to note capacities if a metric of 1 metre was used as they develop their recovery plans. This approach is likely to lead to plans being well formed in advance of any national decision and could potentially result in some schools being able to welcome nearly all pupils back into ‘in school learning’ whilst others may move to two groupings. Final decisions would be influenced by the public health measures in place at the time. 

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

 


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