Weekly Update 5th June 2020

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As we come to the end of another week, I fully appreciate that you will be, as we are, anxious to know the plans for returning to school and the blended learning model for August will look like. While Highland Council meetings are taking place on a daily basis with all involved parties, final decisions on this are yet to be made. Management staff will be working in the school building next week to complete initial risk assessments and identify floor plans for moving forward. This is a large task which will follow very clear and strict guidance from the Highland Council.

I am hopeful that we will have further developments to share at the start of next week and will get that information out to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, our arrangements for online learning will continue as they have been. Please be reminded and reassured that learning at this point is consolidation. There will be clear frameworks in place for assessing where pupils are at when we return to school and that will be our starting point to inform next steps. You are all doing your very best in difficult circumstances!

Just a reminder that pupils in P4-7 have 2 assignments each week to submit via the google classroom and we encourage pupils in P1-3 to send in a photo each week to show us what you have been up to. Teachers will be in touch with parents directly to follow up on these where necessary.

As always, we very much appreciate your continued support and I look forward to having more information to share with you next week.

In addition to the school update today, please see a letter issued to parents from the Highland Council in to regards their current position around the reopening of schools.

20 06 04 Return to School – parents carers

Weekly update 28th May 2020

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We hope you have all enjoyed a bit of a change this week with our Health and Wellbeing week! A reminder that Monday is an inset day so work will not be assigned until Tuesday. While we are still very unsure of the plans for moving forward with returning to school in August, it is clear that learning at home will be with us for the foreseeable future. In light of that, we would really like to use the next few weeks to establish sound patterns of home learning. Each week, Primary 4-7 pupils are expected to be “handing in” a piece of work. This is normally submitted through the classroom and is likely to be one literacy task and one numeracy task. If it is difficult for these to be submitted using the google classroom format, photos etc can be sent in. Where these are not submitted, class teachers will be in touch with parents to see if there are ways that we can support to enable this to happen. Pupils in P1-3 are asked to please send in photos of their work. While we realise that some of you have chosen to do this, we are now requesting that each pupil send in some evidence of their work each week. If you do not wish for these photos to appear on social media, please let the class teachers know when submitting these.

We would also like to make you aware of a feature currently being run by the Press and Journal which is encouraging parents to send photos of kids with their kitchen recipes. A selection of these will be published. These can be sent to pj.features@pressandjournal.co.uk Please remember to include full name, age and where you live.

Thank you to those of you who completed our Return to School surveys, is is by far that most wide ranging response we have seen in a survey. School staff have read all of this feedback and will take these concerns on board moving forward. The information collected in these will be anonymised and shared with our Associated School Groups as we work through the next phase of planning. While there continues to be much speculation in the media about the return to school, the Highland Council statement is as follows;

28 May 2020

For immediate release

Back to school and learning – ‘carefully and gradually’

The Highland Council is assessing the implications of the First Minister’s announcements made on the 21st May about the first stage relaxation of lockdown, concerning teachers and other education staff returning to the workplace during June to prepare for the return to school and settings on 11th August.
Highland Council’s Education Committee Chair, Cllr John Finlayson said: “The return to workplace and Highland schools for our Education staff will have to be undertaken carefully and gradually.
“I understand the desire for parents and pupils to know what plans and preparations will be put in place to enable the start of term on 11th August; and that is exactly what our Education staff will be working on in the coming weeks.
“While I understand parental and pupil anxieties, especially for those starting at school – at this stage and ahead of formal engagement with local head teachers, parent forums and communities it is too early for the Council to provide any finalised plans or proposals on what the return to school will look like for Highland families. It is important that the local circumstances of each school will need to be considered along with consultations with key stakeholders. As soon as that information is available schools and the Council will promote this widely.”
Paul Senior, Executive Chief Officer Education & Learning added:

“There is a huge amount of preparation underway to return schools and our education settings in line with government guidelines. Before teaching and education staff can return to school, there are a number of measures we will be deploying to ensure that the views of Highland’s head teachers, parents, carers and communities inform our plans.

“These will include rigorous risk assessments that will need to be carried out, to ensure that safe distance working practices and other risk prevention measures can be adhered, to that will enable staff to return to the workplace safely in environments that are as safe as possible to minimise the potential for risk.

“Then, as soon as jointly agreed, risk assessed back-to-school plans are in place, the Council along with our schools and settings will provide information to parents, carers and pupils on what the new normal will be like.”
Pupils and parents should keep an eye on the news page of the Council’s website at: http://www.highland.gov.uk/news/archive; and the Council’s Twitter https://twitter.com/HighlandCouncil or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/highlandcouncil/ for updates on back-to-school information.

We fully appreciate the anxiety around the uncertainty and wish to reassure you that we will forward further information as soon as we are aware of it. In the meantime, please continue to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Continue to take care and look after yourselves and your loved ones. These are difficult times and your wellbeing has got to remain the priority!

Issues that have arisen from Google Meets

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As we develop further use of Google Meets, we would just like to highlight a couple of issues that have arisen. We fully understand that this is new technology for school work and appreciate that it is taking some getting used to.

• Highland Council policy states that all participants should be in a common area (not in a bedroom) and should be appropriately dressed.
• Pupils participating should be the only person within the picture and sound of the call. We do understand that there has been a need for adults to help younger pupils while we get used to this but moving forward would ask your cooperation in this.
• Participants should avoid eating and drinking during sessions and should also try to stay seated in one place rather than moving around while taking part. This all helps to minimise background noise and distractions.
• Pupils are reminded that only one person should be speaking at any one time. This is the same as in a normal classroom but even more important on video calls.
• Parents are asked to notify staff by email if pupils are unable to attend. This will allow calls to proceed instead of waiting for everyone to join in.
• If staff, at any time, feel that there is inappropriate behaviour or settings, they will disconnect pupils from calls and follow this up with phone calls.

Class content daily delivery

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Thank you to all who responded to our survey about the assignment of work. There is a preference for tasks to continue to be assigned on a daily basis and therefore will continue as so. We do also realise that some of you are finding it difficult to organise the days learning when the work does not come through until 9am. In order to support this, daily tasks will be live at 7am each day for those of you who want to access them earlier. Also, please note that we will be flexible about when work is completed so that if it is easier to work a day behind, that is also completely acceptable. Please let us know if you have any concerns around this.

From Monday, daily registration will take place on the google classroom through a registration form. It is essential that this is completed by each pupil every day. Attendance will be taken by these forms at the end of each school day. There is no need to email attendance unless a child is unwell and not “attending” the classroom that day. If your child is unwell and not able to participate in their activities, please email teachers to let them know.

Over the next couple of weeks we are building up virtual sessions for pupils with school staff through Google Meets. We really appreciate those of you who have engaged in these this week and will issue further information about this before we roll this out to all pupils. We completely understand that these are new ways of working and are trying not to bombard you with information overload. Please remember to get in touch with us if there is any way at all that we can help or support.

Change to gmail usage for pupils

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This is to advise that gmail has been disabled for all primary pupils by the Highland Council. Pupils will still be able to use their login details to access google classroom but the mail facility will no longer be functioning.

In order to access links to google meets, your child has been invited to join an additional classroom (either Mrs Murray or Mr Constant). The invitation to join will pop up when pupils log onto the google classroom home page. Links for the meetings will be posted on there tomorrow to allow you to join the meetings. This will be the format for arranging meetings moving forward.

Please let us know if you have any difficulty and thank you, once again, for your continued patience and support.

A notice regarding appropriate use of the Google Classroom platform

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As we move to the google classroom format for assignments, it is imperative that school email addresses are only used to contact staff. These are not to be used for pupil to pupil contact of any form nor can these email addresses be used to log in to other social media platforms. If you become aware of any such communication between pupils, please let us know immediately.

We thank you for your cooperation and your support in this.