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Parent council chairman welcomes school reopening plans

By David G Scott

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A VIRTUAL meeting of Wick High School Parent Council highlighted issues with the plans to reopen the school fully on August 12.

The online meeting took place on Monday evening and was chaired by Professor Iain Baikie, who welcomed the Scottish Government decision to reopen schools on a full-time basis after the summer, but pointed out various "obstacles" that would need addressing.

Wick High School lies empty at the moment. Picture: DGS
Wick High School lies empty at the moment. Picture: DGS

The original reopening plan, outlined by acting rector Sebastian Sandecki, was that only 25 per cent of the school roll would be taught each day on a shortened four-day week.

Officially, the school reopens on August 11 but that will be an in-service day for staff only with pupils returning the following day

Prof Baikie said: “Nicola Sturgeon stated on June 20 that one day a week 'would not be acceptable'. Clearly the Scottish Government is pushing this message through to councils.

"My understanding is that up until this announcement the majority of Highland Council schools were planning to open only one day a week.

"On this basis there are 33 teaching days between August 12 and the autumn break on October 12 and pupils would have only attended school for eight days or 1.5 weeks on a full-time basis."

Professor Iain Baikie chaired Wick High School Parent Council's online meeting on Monday.
Professor Iain Baikie chaired Wick High School Parent Council's online meeting on Monday.

Parents were informed the original plan follows a number of constraints including social distancing, staffing levels and pupil transport.

Prof Baikie went on: "If the Scottish Government is serious about fully reopening the school estate then all these obstacles can only be overcome if the rules on social distancing at school and school transport are eliminated.

"I am sure that John Swinney’s message came as a shock to teachers who had been planning for a different contingency."

He said that teachers now have only seven days left this term to modify their plans and he wondered if this was sufficient time.

"Many parents will welcome this news as it signals an end to the social isolation pupils are experiencing and gives parents the opportunity to plan a return to work.

"Parents commented that employers would not be able to easily accommodate a rolling weekly rota that was originally proposed under the 'one day at school' scheme."

He also talked about how pupils in France, Germany, Ireland, Belgium and Finland have already returned on a part-time or full-time basis and English schools plan on returning full-time in September.

"Many will be glad that Scotland follows suit," he added.

During the online meeting, there was discussion of the fact that the Scottish Qualifications Authority had not issued any guidance regarding exams or course materials and it was hoped that the body would be able to get advice out to pupils and confirm exams will take place as soon as possible.

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