Reassurance message from Aberdeenshire Council’s Director of Education and Children’s Services

With schools now open to the children of key workers as well as vulnerable families, and teachers preparing to deliver learning and teaching online from next week, Aberdeenshire Council’s Director of Education and Children’s Services, Laurence Findlay is keen to offer reassurance.

Thursday, 7th January 2021, 12:19 pm

He explained: “As we begin the new term we are working hard to ensure children and young people, as well as their families and school staff, are given the support they need.

“A range of services are playing their part in this and, in addition to school staff who are leading learning and teaching for those keyworker and vulnerable children in school as well as delivering online learning opportunities for those at home, this includes our educational psychology service who are once again making a phoneline available to parents, and a variety of other services including youth work once again making online activity engagement possible, supported by our digital learning team.

“The commitment and dedication of so many colleagues – regardless of the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic – should not be underestimated.

“Places for the children of keyworkers in school have been made available on the basis of national guidance and we would encourage everyone who can keep their children at home to do so. In terms of the online provision, schools have the flexibility to operate in ways which are best-suited to the needs of their local communities. Aberdeenshire has hugely expanded the number of laptops, tablets and dongles available to young people to ensure those who may have struggled with connectivity in the past have access to online learning.

“The great deal of detail which went into schools’ contingency planning last summer has continued to be developed and will be of great benefit to leadership teams as they develop learning plans for the weeks ahead. Online learning takes a variety of forms and it will be great to see children and young people benefiting from this from next week.

“The tailored support schools can offer this time around will be bolstered by the National Offer being rolled out by e-Sgoil, the e-learning school we have close links to as part of the Northern Alliance regional improvement collaborative.

“For those in their senior phase, we await further guidance from the SQA in relation to ongoing assessment and schools will ensure families are updated at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Laurence has also shared an update with families directly via schools. This highlights the subtle difference this time round to the school closures which took place during the last lockdown. The provision this time is in local schools, whereas last time it was only available in 17 hub schools.

It also underlines the need for everyone to continue to follow the public health advice and the necessity to ensure the vast majority of children and young people are learning from home until the end of January. If there are any changes to this position schools, as part of the local authority, will update parents as we are advised by Scottish Government.

Parents and carers are urged to raise any queries or feedback they may have with their parent council. Laurence will be continuing to meet with Parent Council chairs as he has done regularly throughout the pandemic and welcomes the input of the wider parent forum.

Details of the council’s Educational Psychology Service’s helpline for parents is available online. This also signposts a range of advice and support which may be helpful for families, leaflets on building resilience, connection and secure attachment and video clips to help you through those difficult moments.

If you are feeling low or need some support in the future, know that general mental health advice and support is always available. Check out NHS Grampian’s Psychological Resilience Hub or find more helpful tips and advice at Clear Your Head

For those who are interested in the national guidance which is shaping school plans across local authorities at the moment, supplementary guidance for schools has been updated by the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Education Recovery Group. It is available to view here