Head Teacher Update 6/3/21

Dear Parents and Students

The First Minister announced the next phase in the return to face-to-face learning with a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 2nd March. Since then, schools across the country have been working with local authorities to interpret what is being expected of us and to plan the safe return of students. Yesterday, you should have received a letter from Andy Gray, Chief Education Officer, alerting you to the move towards blended learning for all students from Monday 15th March. This letter is also available on the City of Edinburgh Council Website.

The move to blended learning is the most complicated change we have had to implement, and we are working to produce a plan which meets the guidelines and principles set by the Scottish Government. These include:

  • All students and staff require to maintain a 2m physical distance
  • Maximise the number of students who are receiving in-school learning
    • within the constraints of 2m distancing, classroom space and staffing
  • Where possible, ensure all learners in secondary schools receive some in-school education each week to help re-connect, support health and wellbeing and the transition back to full time schooling
  • Provide a mixture of in-school and remote learning until the end of term on 1 April
  • Give priority to learners who are taking National Qualifications
  • Maintain provision for key worker children and vulnerable learners
  • All students and staff are required to wear face coverings whilst inside the school building.

The introduction of the requirement for 2m physical distance means that our classrooms can only take 1/3 of learners at any one time. We, therefore, need to divide students into 3 groups, with one third of Senior Students attending for whole days, on a rotation from Monday to Friday.

S1-3 will attend, in thirds, for mornings only – Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. The shorter blocks of time and smaller number of people will hopefully allow a gentle re-introduction to the school.

Although this change will operate for just 3 weeks, it will require an enormous amount of planning at whole-school, department and class level. Inevitably, this will have an impact on the online learning we are able to deliver next week and for the remainder of the term. Students are likely to see a change in the approach to online learning, with less live lessons being available. At times, it may be that they are expected to work more independently on work set by departments.

While our planning is at an advanced stage, we still need to finalise timetable arrangements and groupings. We would hope to share detailed plans with parents and students by the middle of next week and certainly by Friday 12th March.

Future School Session Dates

Please complete the short survey, link below, to give your views about future school holiday and session dates. The survey will close on Thursday 1 April 2021.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/schsd2022

Managing anxiety

We understand that all students will have varying levels of anxiety about coming back to school after lock-down. The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) have produced the resource “It’s okay to worry about going back to school” (linked below) to support young people as they prepare to return.

Link: https://forresterhighschool.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Its-ok-to-worry-about-returning-to-school.pdf

“Adjusting to going back to school will take time and that is okay.” (NHS 2021)

If you are concerned about levels of anxiety and feel you need some extra support, please get in touch with your Pupil Support Leader.

https://forresterhighschool.org.uk/learning-and-teaching/support-for-students

Equalities

Along with all other schools in Edinburgh, we are working hard to improve our approach to equalities.  Our School Renewal Plan sets out the actions we expect to achieve this session. They include better ways of tackling racist incidents and reviewing our curriculum.  One of the most important actions for us is to ensure all students’ views are heard – our Student Equalities Group will be leading this work.  They, and our staff Equalities Coordinator, Jacqui Forbes, will be in touch soon to ask for your support.  If you are interested in getting more involved, a city-wide Staff Reference Group for Equalities has been formed and you would be very welcome to join.  Please contact Annemarie.Procter@ea.edin.sch.uk to find out more.

Finally, I thank you for the outstanding support you have given us throughout this difficult time and I would ask for your patience and understanding as we move into the next short phase of the return to school.

Please note, next week is week 1 in our timetable rota.

Thanks and best wishes

Stephen Rafferty

Head Teacher

 

 

 

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