Schools such as the Balloch campus for primary pupils and Our Lady and St Patrick’s for secondary are keenly awaiting an announcement about getting back to the classroom. Pictures by Bill Heaney
By Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister
I know that a key priority for parents, children and young people is education and early-years services. We confirm that we are planning to allow universities and colleges to have a phased return next term, with a combination of remote learning and some limited on-campus learning.
On schools, early learning and childcare, we have published today the report of the education recovery group, which is chaired by John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, and includes representatives of councils, parent and teacher organisations and trade unions.
Through that approach, we have reached an agreed position that will help us to build confidence among pupils, parents and teachers about a safe return to formal schooling. The report can be read in full on the Scottish Government’s website.
Artwork by Gemma Woods Fraser
I stress that all its conclusions are subject to health advice, and to appropriate measures on physical distancing, testing and provision of protective equipment, where required, being in place.
I will summarise the key points. Teachers and other school staff will return during June to prepare classrooms for the new term and a different model of learning.
During June and over the summer, an increased number of children will have access to critical childcare such as has been provided for the children of key workers during lockdown. We will provide, where possible, transition support for children going into primary 1 or moving from primary 7 to secondary school.
From 11 August, all schools will reopen. However, to allow appropriate physical distancing, children will return to a blended model of part-time in-school and part-time at-home learning.
Childminders can reopen during phase 1 and, over the summer, all early-years childcare providers will reopen, subject to necessary health measures.
Capacity will be prioritised for the children of key workers, early learning and childcare entitlement and children who are in need. The Care Inspectorate will provide further guidance, in due course.
The arrangements will not represent a complete return to normality by August, but we judge them to be the most sensible approach that we can plan for at this stage.
To reflect the fact that children will still be doing part of their learning at home, we will invest a further £30 million to provide laptops for disadvantaged children and young people, to enable them to study online.
At this stage, I want to take a moment to say a huge “Thank you” to parents, carers and teachers who are doing so much to ensure that children continue to learn during the lockdown period.
I want also to send a special message to children and young people themselves, on the off-chance that any of you are watching a parliamentary statement. I know how difficult it has been for you not to be at school and with your friends, but you have been magnificent during this lockdown period. From the bottom of my heart, I say “Thank you” to each and every one of you.
As I have briefly summarised the route map. It sketches out, with as much detail as we can provide at this stage, how and in what stages we might move back to some normality, as we continue to live with the virus, which we will have to do for some time to come.
The route map does not yet set definite dates for all phases, because it cannot do so. We know that the virus is, and will remain, unpredictable.
- The route map to lifting the lockdown indicates when places of worship might reopen, and it makes it clear that while our current guidance on funerals—among the most distressing and heartbreaking rules of the current lockdown—unfortunately remains unchanged for now, we hope to relax it as we move from phase 1 into phase 2.