This Strategic Framework has been jointly developed by the Scottish Government and Local Government, with crucial support from key partners across the education system including the Education Recovery Group which was established in April 2020.
It sets out how there will be transition back to a greater level of face-to-face education in schools and -ELC- settings as soon as this is able to happen safely, and represents an agreed framework to be used at local level in conjunction with Local Phasing Delivery Plans. It is based upon a blended model of in-school and in-home learning for school-age children, and prioritisation of access to contact time in ELC. These approaches are driven by the requirement to implement physical distancing measures and other age appropriate measures in education settings at present to minimise the risks of infection and transmission and ensure they are safe places to be.
Everything within the paper is predicated on two crucial factors:
I. Implementation is conditional upon scientific and medical advice confirming that it can be done so in a manner that is consistent with wider efforts to control the reproduction rate and protects the health of staff and pupils alike.
II. Comprehensive implementation of complementary public health measures, including adherence to 'test, trace, isolate and support' (TTIS) practices, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) where appropriate for all staff, and a range of other hygiene measures such as:
- Increased hand-washing facilities/hand sanitisers and use thereof.
- Regular and enhanced cleaning of surfaces (e.g. sinks, toilet seats and door handles).
- Protocols for what to do if a child/members of staff has suspected/confirmed COVID-19.
- Ongoing risk assessments on the operational parameters of re-opened centres.
To complement this framework, a suite of supporting guidance covering key themes will also be published. This guidance will cover cross-cutting issues that local authorities and settings must have regard to when developing local arrangements. Where appropriate, it will also include bespoke supplementary considerations for each of the ELC, primary and secondary sectors that is based upon the specific health evidence and risk factors that are relevant to each age group. Key themes will include:
- Practical implementation measures (including measures to support physical distancing and minimisation of interaction in settings, school transport, digital technology, workforce planning and support).
- Models of curriculum and assessment that reflect the blended learning model and support a focus on recovery along with guidance for the Broad General Education and Senior Phase (including in relation to the delivery of 2020/21 qualifications and partnership with the college sector).
- Wider support and wellbeing issues, including but not limited to transitions and additional support needs.
- Delivery of ELC and childcare, including practical implementation measures and supporting children's learning and development.
An Education Continuity Direction will be given to education authorities to provide a clear legal basis for implementation of some of the key measures in this framework and the supporting guidance. The Continuity Direction will be reviewed and updated to provide continued legal clarity to education authorities as the situation and required actions evolve.
This Strategic Framework plus aforementioned supplementary guidance should be read to include those in the independent and grant-aided school sectors. It is the responsibility of those sectors to translate this guidance into operational detail applicable to their specific circumstances.