1st April in School
1st April 2020
Thank you very much for all the emails and social media comments thanking our staff for doing a grand job running online lessons, providing IT support, looking after key workers’ children in our Hubs and delivering meals across the community. Such praise is very much appreciated. I would like to add to that praise by commending our Head Janitor, office staff, technicians, canteen staff, cleaners and all the local authority education support staff who continue to keep our schools open, our IT working, and our children in need supported during this difficult time. Thanks to all the members of the public and some former teachers, who have emailed me offering to come along and volunteer. The votes of thanks and the offers to volunteer are really quite heart-warming.
And of course, to all those in the NHS working tirelessly to keep us alive and well. Thank you all very much!!
I am aware you appreciate re-assurance around how we are continuing to keep our pupils safe and learning, so please find a wee update from this morning’s online management meeting with Deputes and PTs in Oban and Tiree.
It seems clear that the majority of our pupils across all stages are engaging in the online learning. Of course not all do and we ask that you continue to insist that they do, even though this may be difficult. We understand that teenagers are difficult to motivate in the morning. We are also aware that a number of households may be trying to use one device between three or four family members. With these issues in mind, our teachers will continue to place work and resources on Google Classroom and be available to chat to pupils but they will be understanding and accommodating when looking for online attendance and returns of work.
If pupils cannot do the work set until later in the day or at night for whatever reason, we can deal with that. All that matters is that they continue to be engaged with the online resources and send questions or answers to their teachers throughout the week, regardless of the time of day. I should add that a night time question will not normally be answered until the following day.
As well as pupils and parents finding learning at home difficult; our staff are finding that teaching from home is equally challenging. A teacher with young children at home cannot always give an online class the full attention they would in school at the timetabled slot. So, similar to the modification to the pupil guidance, teachers have the instruction to make sure the work is available for each day but have permission to adapt the times that they respond to pupil questions given their own family demands. Responses will be within 24 hours excluding weekends.
As long as work is set, resources are provided and that we encourage our youngsters to keep academically motivated and progressing, then this will ensure we are setting them up to an easier time when back in school. Indeed to ease our pupils back into a more normal school life, whenever that may be, we intend to begin the new courses and start the new timetable on the 5th of May. With no exams, we intend to use the extra time to work online with our youngsters throughout May and June (if we are still closed then) to help prepare them as best we can given the circumstances. As noted in my last letter, the Deputes and PTs in Oban and Tiree are liaising with pupils and parents over course choices where necessary
I know the next statement seems repetitive but it is very important. It is not possible to fill a child’s day with school work given they are working alone; neither is it desirable. Balance is the key. Do all the tasks set by teachers and then go and play, read a book, spend time chatting to friends or family. Stay mentally and physically healthy as well as learning.
The Easter holidays are nearly upon us. Our NHS staff and other essential services continue to be working at full tilt to ensure we cater for the health and welfare of our communities. Therefore we will continue to play our part and our Hub schools at the Oban Primary Campus and Tiree Primary School will remain open and available for key workers’ children who have no alternatives but to send their children for us to look after. Our delivery of free school meals for those most in need will also continue through the Easter holidays, including Good Friday and Easter Monday.
In addition to the Hub and FSM support our Guidance teachers, Family Liaison Officers, Youth Worker and Support Department staff have all confirmed they are available to support any of our children and their families throughout the Easter break. Those most in need should have a direct number to their allocated support.
Stay home, stay online, stay safe, stay learning.
P A Bain
Executive Head Teacher
Oban High School, Tiree High School & Tiree Primary School