Argyll and Bute schools lead the way in digital learning

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Peter Bain

By Aileen MacLennan

Two secondary schools in Argyll and Bute are leading the way in Scottish education when it comes to delivering remote, digital learning opportunities.

Since before lockdown began, Oban and Tiree High Schools have been benefiting from shared live, digital lessons through Google Meet.

Peter Bain, Executive Head Teacher of both schools, explains: “We made the decision to merge the timetables of both schools to allow for the delivery of live lessons to and from each one.

“These virtual sessions not only enable pupils on Tiree to access a wider, more varied choice of subjects, they also ensure effective leadership across the sea, as well as consistent curriculum development and shared knowledge between the two schools.

“Administration; Art; Biology; Business Management; Computing; Computer Games Design; Geography; Music Technology; Physics; and PE. Yes, PE! These subjects have all been delivered between our schools as part of the merged timetable or, in the case of PE, to cover staffing.

“These methods of learning and teaching are working extremely well. As each day goes by we learn from our experiences and accept that change is good; or at least necessary. The “new normal” of remote learning in the future will not be new; just normal: the normality a consequence of us investing in both technology; from supporting and training our colleagues; and from teaching our children well in whatever manner we can. It works now and it will work even better with practice.”

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Cllr McNeilly

Argyll and Bute Council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “Oban and Tiree are doing a phenomenal job when it comes to virtual learning. Not only are pupils at both schools connecting more and building relationships, pupils from Tiree are also being exposed to a much wider range of subject choices.

“The Council made a large investment in IT equipment to get this pilot off the ground, and make this remote learning possible. This partnership approach is working brilliantly and has led to an explosion of online learning. Lockdown was something that no one could have predicted, but thanks to Oban and Tiree’s already established digital classrooms, pupils are continuing to have daily interactions with each other and their teachers. Learning and teaching from home has proved remarkably similar to what these schools are already delivering.

“Both schools ensure that every member of staff and child has access to a suitable device at home and, if they don’t have one, they are supplied with one. The council provides IT support to ensure every child can access their devices and weekly welfare checks are carried out to help anyone struggling.

“This type of learning is innovative and forward thinking and I am delighted that we are ahead of the game here in Argyll and Bute. Tiree and Oban are being used as leading examples across Scotland I could not be prouder.”

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