Head Teacher Update 1/11/20

Dear Parents and Students

They say a week is a long time in politics. It feels that the opposite is sometimes true in the life of a school. The weeks are flying by amid a climate of constant change and update. The need to respond to changes in guidance and legislation, which can often be amended several times in one week, risks distracting us from the thing that matters most within our school community. That is, the health and wellbeing of our students, staff and families. In implementing the latest guidance, it will be important to ensure that we do so with empathy and compassion – being mindful that no one chose to be in the current situation. As well as working to keep each other safe, we must protect our ethos of respect and care for each other. Amid sometimes quite contradictory and confusing rules,  it will be important that we support everyone to understand the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’ of particular changes. Our staff and students have done so well in the first few months of this session and we can only move forward, operating safely, with a continuation of their cooperation and good will.

This week’s update contains information about practical subjects (PE in particular), extra-curricular activities, face coverings, and some updated information from the SQA.

Extra-curricular activity

The Scottish Government has given schools the go-ahead to resume some extra-curricular activities (lunch-time/after school clubs). However, as Edinburgh has been placed in Level 3, this will likely be restricted to study support for the time being.

Physical Education

Late on Friday morning, we received the very welcome news that Physical Education can now begin to take place indoors. Our PE staff will plan activities which involve lower intensity levels and maintain appropriate social distancing so that lessons can safely operate inside. Students should continue to come to school ready for physical activities on the days they have PE.

I would like to formally acknowledge the outstanding work of our PE staff who have worked so hard to teach and motivate students, delivering all lessons outside with a very restricted range of activities.

Ref: https://education.gov.scot/improvement/covid-19-education-recovery/covid-19-return-to-educational-establishments

Face Coverings

As Edinburgh moves into Level 3 of the Scottish Government’s new 5 Level system, one of the main changes is that S4-6 students and their teachers are now advised to wear face-coverings in class. Our Senior Leadership Team and Health and Safety Group will meet early next week to decide how the school will respond to this advice and how we will support everyone to comply. As the prevalence of infection increases in the community, it becomes more important for everyone to wear face coverings whilst moving around the school and in social areas. It is also vital to protect those who are unable to wear a face covering. Students who are exempt from wearing face coverings are more vulnerable and so we need to be able to identify and support them to avoid entering busier areas and to stay safe. We are currently investigating an exemption card or lanyard system that will support this.

Ref: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-reducing-the-risks-in-schools/

SQA

Having announced the suspension of the National 5 examination diet in 2021, the SQA have begun to release updated subject-specific information. There will be no external assessment at National 5 and qualifications at this level will be awarded on the basis of centre estimation (subject to external validation). Higher and Advanced Higher will continue to be externally assessed through exams and the completion of coursework. The exam diet for these levels will take place between Thurs 13 May – Fri 4 June 2021. Results day this session is planned for 10 August. This is, of course, all subject to Public Health advice and our staff will continue to emphasise the importance of performance in ongoing assessment and coursework throughout the year.

Watching as things develop south of the border, the one thing that is certain is that plans are always subject to change and I will endeavour to keep you informed of any significant developments. And finally, tomorrow we are back to week two in our rotation and I look forward to seeing everyone back safely.

Thanks and best wishes.

Stephen Rafferty

Head Teacher

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