Head Teacher Update Sunday 28/2/21

Dear Parents and Students

When we broke for the Christmas Holidays on 22nd December, we expected to see everyone back at school on the 18th January. We have now completed 6 weeks of online learning and I know that students, parents and staff have been finding it hard to keep the momentum going. It was, therefore, heartening to welcome back some senior students last week. Senior students will continue to attend lessons (albeit in small numbers) to complete aspects of their course work, that cannot be done at home, in preparation for practical assessment. Unfortunately, the range of activities we are able to offer is restricted in some subjects, such as PE, and we hope that this will be relaxed as we move into the next phase.

Voluntary Asymptomatic Testing

Self-testing for staff and senior students commenced last week and we are grateful to the many senior students who are doing their bit to keep everyone safe by taking part in this programme. A reminder that information about COVID self-testing can be found on our website at the following address: https://forresterhighschool.org.uk/asymptomatic-testing

S4-6 Reports

Progress reports for S4-6 should arrive in parents inboxes this week. The completion of these reports has been complicated by staff having to work remotely, and we have had to overcome a few obstacles to enable staff to complete their reports at home. These are in the final stage of completion and should arrive on Wednesday 3rd March.

The Next Phase in our Return to School

In her statement of Tuesday 23rd February, the First Minister indicated that the next phase in the easing of restrictions will begin on the 15th March with the return to ‘in-person learning’ for the rest of primary age children and “… also getting more senior phase secondary pupils back in the classroom for at least part of their learning.” It is also expected that all young people will return to school, in some form, after Easter. However, this is dependent on the clinical evidence supporting a sustained return and we await a further announcement on Tuesday 2nd March.

SQA

SQA exams will not operate again this year and an ‘alternative certification model’, which relies on moderated internal assessment, will be used to award qualifications. The SQA have once again extended their deadline for the submission of internal estimates – the final date is now the 25th June. Again, this is a welcome change which will give more time for us to prepare students for assessment and to engage in moderation. While there are still some uncertainties, including the placement of 2 marking days (additional in-service days) and Local Authority deadlines, it means that we can anticipate assessment continuing into June. This is also likely to require a change to the normal leaving date for S6, and we would therefore ask students in S6 to avoid making travel plans for early June.

Following the further announcement from the First Minister on Tuesday 2nd March, our Leadership Team will meet to plan the run-in to the 25th June. I will share these plans with parents and students in next week’s update.

On Thursday, the SQA announced another welcome change – the removal of Added Value Units from National 4. This means that more time can be spent on learning and teaching, developing skills, and preparing for assessment.

Meeting with Councillor Perry

On Wednesday, I had a telephone meeting with Councillor Ian Perry, convenor of the Education, Children and Families Committee. Councillor Perry is acutely aware of the issues and difficulties being faced by everyone at home and those in school, delivering and taking part in online learning. He asked me to convey his thanks to students, parents, and staff for their perseverance and commitment during this difficult time. 

Support for Families

We understand that this lockdown has caused financial hardship for many families, and we want to support in any way we can. Please remember that clothing grants and free school meal payments should be coming directly to parents. The payment of Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) should also be continuing throughout this period of lockdown. Please contact Sarah Ross, if you feel you are not getting the support you are entitled to or if your circumstances have changed and you think you might now qualify for any of these entitlements.

Last week the school received £1000 worth of vouchers and hundreds of day-passes for the Company Shop. We have been distributing these to families and hope to receive more next week. Again, please contact Sarah if you wish to access this support.

Sarah.Ross@forrester.edin.sch.uk

Finally, I look forward, with cautious optimism, to seeing a return to ‘in person’ learning for increasing numbers of students and to a more normal way of living and working.

Please note, next week is week 2 on our timetable rota, and please continue to give us your feedback using the following link: Online Learning Survey.

Thanks and best wishes.

Stephen Rafferty

Head Teacher

 

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