Today in the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government was forced to U-turn on its plans to have pupils receiving part time blended learning when schools return in August. This afternoon, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney, announced that – providing the rate of infection and the state of public health continues to improve – schools will return to normal, full time, face to face learning in August.
Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven, Helensburgh & Lomond, had previously written to the Scottish Government, as well as West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute Councils, to raise serious concerns about the effect that part time learning would have on the attainment and wellbeing of pupils. Her worry was that pupils – at every stage of their education – would not be able to receive the support that they needed within this model of teaching and that the attainment gap was at risk of widening further.
Baillie also raised serious concerns regarding the lack of structure that these plans gave to parents and teachers. Parents were unable to forward plan or to return to the workplace themselves due to a complete lack of continuity within local authority plans. She has welcomed this U-turn but has written to West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute councils, asking them to revise their plans as a result of today’s announcement.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“I certainly welcome the much needed U-turn made by John Swinney today. The previous guidance that the Scottish Government had issued to local authorities – and the plans that were formulated by West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute as a result – were not good enough for local children.
“These plans left parents wondering what the coming months would look like for themselves and their children. Teachers were put in the difficult position of not being able to deliver the level of teaching and support that they know their pupils need and pupils were being forced to continue to fend for themselves.
“I have written to both local authorities in our area asking them to immediately revise and reissue guidance to parents following today’s announcement. It’s not the fault of Councils – there has been little leadership, guidance and money provided to them by the Scottish Government. But it really is time now that pupils, parents and teachers get the support and education that they deserve.”