BACK TO SCHOOL: It is clear that, for many, that will amount to only a few hours a week at best

Covid in the classroom – pupils have been warned to be vigilant. Top primary pupils celebrate getting back to schoolat Balloch campus

By Bill Heaney

Pupils and parents were promised a return to the classroom but, from the information that they are now being sent, it is clear that, for many, that will amount to only a few hours a week at best, Tory interim leader Ruth Davidson told the Scottish Parliament today.

And she asked Nicola Sturgeon: “” Can the First Minister look those parents in the eye and say that that is the significant progress that she has claimed? Will she look again at the plans in order to increase the actual amount of teaching time that pupils get?”

The First Minister replied: “I will always look parents in the eye and try to explain the difficult challenges that we are trying to balance. I understand that few groups in society have found the situation more difficult than parents who have had to juggle childcare with working from home and all the other responsibilities that are part of everyday life. I understand how important the issue is.

“Let me be clear: I set out clearly in Parliament last week that, from 15 March, all primary school children will be back to full-time education in schools, which is a significant change, and that we will seek to have some in-school learning for secondary school pupils in the period between now and Easter. It is the intention, assuming that there is no deterioration in the position, that we will have a full return after the Easter holidays.

“However, instead of having some young people in secondary schools with no in-school contact at all, we have decided to try to give them that, even if it is fairly minimal, for the period between now and Easter in order to try to reacquaint them with school and their friends and to prioritise their well-being.

“I do not stand here and say that that is perfect, but we need to balance all the issues to get schools back in a way that does not set back the country’s progress overall.

“On the point about continuing to look at all of this, the Deputy First Minister [John Swinney] continues to consider all the issues on an on-going basis with the partners in the education recovery group to ensure that we are striking the best balance and the right balance overall.

“The most important objective that we are seeking to fulfil right now is to get all young people back to school full time after the Easter holidays, in the way that we did last August. That is what we are aiming for.

“With secondary school, we want to prioritise in-school contact between now and Easter for those in the senior phase, to ensure that national qualifications are given the priority that they deserve, and we want all young people in secondary schools to have some contact back in school before the Easter holidays.”

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