CAB - 7 Oct 2020 - 10 Oct 2020 - Advice

Education / Help could be at hand for parents worried about access to online learning

Cunningsburgh Primary School.All of Shetland's schools - like Cunningsburgh Primary School, pictured here - are closed to pupils. Photo: SIC

PARENTS who may not have access to the technology required for their children to take part in online learning are being encouraged to get in touch with Shetland Islands Council (SIC) about possible support.

As schools remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the SIC said it is continuing to focus on distance learning, including the use of Scotland’s education intranet Glow.

There has been some concern that not all parents will have access to a device to access remote learning, or that broadband may be too patchy in some areas.

However, the council has encouraged people with concerns to get in touch, with potential support and/or alternative arrangements a possibility.

Speaking on what would have been the start of the new term (14 April), the SIC’s quality improvement manager Robin Calder said: “All our schools are currently communicating with their parents and carers to explain arrangements for remote learning at home for children and young people over the coming weeks, including the use of Scotland’s education intranet, Glow.

“The measures in place will enable children to access learning materials on Glow, prepared by their teachers, communicate remotely with them, and receive feedback on their learning. Parents should contact their school if they require support or advice in supporting their children’s remote learning.”

Calder acknowledged that many parents will be feeling worried about the current situation.

“Parents should not feel pressurised to try and replicate the school day at home, especially when many are trying to work from home, or are employed in key worker roles,” he added.

“During the pandemic, the health and wellbeing of all families come first. Parents should encourage their children to have short periods of dedicated time during each day, engaging with the learning activities organised by the school, but just as important is that children get daily exercise and fresh air, in line with the government’s social distancing rules.

“Baking, reading, arts and crafts activities, and playing board games, all provide valuable learning opportunities.”

Further support and guidance on remote learning for staff, pupils and parents and carers is also available in the new Glow blog Shetland Digital School Hub.

The SIC’s children’s services team, meanwhile, is in regular contact with the Scottish Qualifications Agency (SQA) following the decision to cancel exams this year.

Instead of exams, teachers will be submitting estimated grades to the SQA based on young people’s progress and assessment results over the course of the year.

Pupils in secondary four to secondary six are advised to continue to carry out tasks set for them and communicate digitally with their teachers. Secondary settings will also continue to update parents on SQA developments.

Arrangements are also in place to support vulnerable children and children with complex additional support needs, including regular communication between school staff and families. Outreach provision in a few school settings is being organised.

Chairman of the council’s education and families committee George Smith said: “I fully endorse and thank all those involved in the education system in Shetland for the huge amount of work going on to maintain educational delivery and childcare for our key workers during this very challenging and worrying time.”