Parents demand answers on self-isolation schooling

A new parents campaign group is ramping up calls for a national online education platform to ensuring pupils who need to self-isolate as a result of coronavirus won't fall behind.
A parents campaign group are demanding to know how children self-isolating from coronavirus will keep learning.A parents campaign group are demanding to know how children self-isolating from coronavirus will keep learning.
A parents campaign group are demanding to know how children self-isolating from coronavirus will keep learning.

The 50/50 in-school campaign group is demanding the Scottish Government and councils reveal what work is being done to offer quality education at home for children who are forced to stay off school.

It claims that following the decision to reopen schools full time, no details have been provided on plans to make sure that pupils who can’t attend school because of new clusters of Covid are provided with a national platform for at-home learning.

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Education Secretary John Swinney has said that work is ongoing between government and the Western Isles online learning hub, e-Sgoil, to provide a wider reach for Scottish pupils in the senior years, but as yet there have been no plans made public for other school years.

But since schools re-opened, pupils at a number of different schools have tested positive for Covid and the 50/50 group has said this underlines the need for a national standard of online and at home learning, including a minimum number of teacher contact hours each week for every pupil.

Sarah Chisnall, a spokesperson for the 50/50 campaign said: “We’ve known since before the school holidays that there was a postcode lottery for online learning with some children not having work marked; and not hearing or seeing their teachers since 19 March.

"We are already seeing that young people are going to have to stay home at various points through this crisis and it is the Scottish Government’s responsibility to ensure that they do not fall behind. The government must work to ensure there is a national standard for online learning that is informative; interactive and engaging for young people.”

She added: “We know none of this is easy and there aren’t quick fixes; but we have known the possible scenarios since the spring. Surely there must have been some work ongoing to get this right?

"Officials and educationalists must have something better than we have seen so far. Members of our group have been doing research into what is out there for online learning and there are models which, even in the short term, look more interactive and interesting than what many young people have been faced with on a daily basis since mid-March.

“As we head towards autumn and into winter, we need to know what schools will be allowed to and able to access to maintain all our children’s learning.”

A COSLA spokesperson said that councils’ “overriding priority” was to ensure “a safe return to education for our children and young people” given the impact of being out of school for months.

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He added: "Local authority staff have been working over the summer to make preparations not only for a full return but for the contingency of blended learning. Following the publication of guidance the hard work of all school staff has been focused on making sure that our children and young people get the very best from their education in what will be a very different environment from what they were used to before the pandemic.”

The Scottish Government has been asked to comment.

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