Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has written to West Dunbartonshire Council to raise the concerns of local parents and teachers as the Council announces its plans for pupils returning to school.
The local authority has announced a blended learning programme which will see primary school pupils returning to the classroom for two days a week. Pupils in S1, S2 and S3 are only guaranteed one day a week, with pupils in S3, S4 and S5 guaranteed two days a week. The rest of the time, pupils are expected to continue working from home and carrying out work that they are given on their weekly visit to the classroom.
Parents have grave concerns that this programme does not do enough to support both pupils educational attainment and their mental wellbeing. Pupils have now been learning from home since 23 March with parents being encouraged to oversee their learning – many of whom are also working from home themselves.
Parents have contacted Jackie Baillie looking for answers as to why their children are being offered such little face to face contact with teachers. This is a particular concern as other local authorities in Scotland have announced plans which see pupils returning to school for much more time each week. Furthermore, West Dunbartonshire’s plans include a programme which sees pupils in school on certain days one week but not the next. Parents have said this inconsistency has left them unable to forward plan, seek childcare or return to the workplace themselves.
Jackie has raised the need for leadership and guidance from the Scottish Government and additional resources for local Councils to enable them to bring children back into school for more time and to support teachers and other education staff.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“The plans that West Dunbartonshire Council has announced are well short of what is required. I am disappointed that there is no leadership from the Scottish Government, little guidance about what to do and not a single penny of additional resources to make this work.
“The fact that pupils are only able to return to the classroom for a guaranteed two days – after already spending months working from home – will surely have a negative effect on their learning and attainment.
“Parents have been left unable to return to their own workplaces due to the inconsistent plans and there seems to have been a distinct lack of genuine communication and consultation with parents as these plans were formulated.
“West Dunbartonshire Council has a duty to educate local pupils as well as taking precautionary measures for pupils and staff. They should take these plans back to the drawing board and work out a way to better support pupils. And the Scottish Government needs to give them the resources to do so.
“I will continue to speak up for parents, pupils and teachers until they feel they are given the support that they need. We must ensure that we are not causing the attainment gap to widen and weaken overall levels of attainment. Our young people deserve better than this.”