Communication and dialogue with trade unions, staff, parents/carers and children and young people should be carefully considered when implementing this guidance, to ensure confidence in the revised arrangements across all school users. Clarity on what and how the revised arrangements will work in practice and what is expected of all parties will be key to ensuring things run smoothly.
The channels of communication through which trade unions, children, young people, staff and parents/carers can raise concerns about the implementation of safety measures in individual settings should be made clear. In keeping with the intention to take a measured approach to children and young people’s return to schools, the importance of adhering to mitigations should also be reinforced with all members of the school community.
A range of information for children, young people and their families about the phased return to full-time in-school learning is available (see details below). It aims to provide clarity for parents, school staff and children and young people on how the scientific evidence/clinical advice translates into Government decisions and help to reduce anxiety for children, young people, parents and school staff through positive messaging on what is in place (testing, vaccinations, other mitigations etc). The importance of compliance with all protection measures (in school and in the community) continues to be integral to this.
Parents and carers
The main concerns for parents and carers are likely to be the safety and wellbeing of their children in schools and a desire for timely and clear information on the current rules for their child’s school and why those arrangements are in place. In line with requirements under the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006, local authorities and settings should make arrangements to involve and communicate with all parents and carers (the “parent forum” for the school) as well as the Parent Council. Advice and support are available from those in the local authority who are responsible for parental involvement. Two-way communication is vital, as is ongoing dialogue and gathering of parental feedback.
Schools and authorities should consider how they continue to engage parents and families as part of the school community and in school decision making during the pandemic. As part of this, it will be important to consider the impact of parents not being able to go into the school buildings, and to ensure that this does not pose a barrier to open ongoing communication. There are a range of steps that can be taken to continue and support activities such as Parent Council meetings, parent’s evenings and subject choice discussions.
In relation to parents’ evenings, the supplementary CERG practice guidance on parental involvement and engagement states that “[a]lternative methods and approached to reporting will need to be used”. The guidance points to digital and online approaches as alternatives to face-to-face meetings, In relation to all matters of parental involvement and engagement, including parents’ evenings and reporting to parents, equalities considerations remain key, and may be heightened due to coronavirus restrictions limiting parents’ physical access to school buildings. Consideration should be given to matters such as the needs of separated parents (having regard to the appropriateness of both parents being provided with information), parents for whom English is an additional language and parents/carers with disabilities. Further guidance on communicating effectively with parents and families during Covid-19 is available from the Education Scotland website.
National information, Q&As and other material on Covid-19 arrangements, education recovery, parental communication and home learning can be used to complement any communications locally and at school level. This includes Parent Club’s dedicated COVID-19 web pages, the National Parent Forum (website and newsletter), Education Scotland’s “Scotland Learns” Parentzone Scotland website and other sources.
Children and young people
Schools and settings will wish to develop arrangements for good quality dialogue and communication with children and young people. A variety of methods can help to gather children and young people’s views, questions and issues, and can help to clarify and address difficulties. Examples include Pupil Councils, pupil panels and broader pupil participation methods. General advice on good principles and methods for learner participation is available from Education Scotland as well as a range of third sector organisations.
Schools and local authorities will wish to consider the young person information available via Young Scot’s Covid-19 micro site . This information is updated in line with all key updates to guidance. Young person survey work includes the joint work by Young Scot, Scottish Youth Parliament and YouthLink Scotland . Further guidance and information is available from Children’s Parliament and Children in Scotland. Practical support on poverty-sensitive approaches is available via the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland's survey report on the cost of learning in lockdown. Local community learning and development services, Parent Councils and local parent umbrella groups may be able to work with authorities and schools, to ensure that consistent information and advice reaches children and young people.
Headteachers, teachers and practitioners
Education Scotland have developed an Education Recovery webpage that provides a single point of access to information about education recovery for practitioners and education stakeholders. This resource continues to be developed to include examples of emerging good practice in COVID recovery, and highlights any published changes to guidance.