This week, I want to focus on the fantastic work which has been ongoing in our Education system and pay particular thanks to all the parents/guardians, pupils, teachers and all our education employees, across the Western Isles, for their continued response to the COVID-19 crisis, says Councillor Roddie Mackay, leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in a statement sent out at 08.57 this morning (Friday May 29).

The Response from teachers and education employees

The support that teachers and education employees have provided, from the announcement of the lockdown, the supervision and feedback to all pupils through online learning and physical resource packs, and maintaining provision and support for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers throughout the last few months, has been nothing short of outstanding.

Teachers do what they do because they love their jobs and get great satisfaction from contributing to the learning experience of pupils and indeed every single one of our employees in Education has stepped up to the plate during this crisis.

I would like to pay tribute to the response from parents and pupils which has been equally outstanding. This week I was very pleased to hear that the average total attendance at our school hubs, throughout the Western Isles, has been in the region of 100 pupils which is about 4% of the total pupil population.

The remaining 96% are, of course, learning from home and we have seen very high levels of engagement based on weekly reporting form schools with over 92% of learners engaging with teachers’ learning content each week since the lockdown begun.

We appreciate that it has not been an easy task for you all to navigate and interact through the various platforms and resources, but throughout all of that Education and learning has continued. That is something which you should all be very proud of.

Looking Ahead

In terms of planning for the re-opening of schools, officers and HTs are preparing for schools to re-open to pupils on 11 August in-line with national announcements. We are planning for school staff to begin to return to schools from the week beginning 8th June to start preparing for the return of pupils and the planning of learning approaches to be used in August.

The provision for the children of key workers will continue throughout June and we also continue to prepare and develop the local delivery plan for the reopening of school buildings and that will be shared in the coming days.

I would like to assure you that we are working hard to plan to support the recovery process in full collaboration with you as a community of school leaders. Your commitment as parents, guardians and teachers to supporting all of the children, young people and families in the Western Isles is unquestioned and we intend to ensure that as we move through to the next phase of this crisis, that we continue to do so together.

Conclusion

We remain committed to keeping everyone updated at the earliest possible opportunity and we will continue to do so through press releases, radio broadcasts, TV, social media and other means.

In addition, we have arranged for another Education Livestream Q+A session and details of that will be issued early next week. This will be another opportunity for parents, pupils and education employees to garner more information on the current situation which, as we all appreciate, is very fluid and changing on an almost daily basis.

As we follow the guidance provided by Government regarding the potential gradual easing of lockdown it is more important than ever that we maintain the good practice we have all followed over these last few weeks, apply common sense to all that we do and maintain the great community spirit we have shown so far in these challenging times.