1. Learning and Teaching at Home
What are we seeking to achieve?
We are living in extraordinary times and we understand that learning in Term 4 will be different. We also know that this is a new and evolving situation and that we must be both ambitious for our learners, yet realistic too. In addition to supporting wellbeing, a key goal during this period will be to maintain engagement in learning, with approaches that are appropriate to children and young people in different age groups; in different home circumstances; and with different levels of digital connectivity.
Not all learning, however, will be done online or through digital channels or platforms. We know that there are many other learning resources and activities, including books, television, radio, and creative activities that will help with learning at home.
What support will be available?
Support for Digital Learning
Following school closures in March, Scotland's local authorities, schools, teachers and practitioners responded quickly and creatively to put in place measures to support learning through digital platforms. This is taking many forms, including use of online platforms and apps such as Glow and DigiLearn, focusing on the immediate needs of their learners and teachers and practitioners. We have seen great examples across Scotland emerging, which use digital platforms and social media to ensure young people learn and continue to have social interactions with friends and peers through virtual groups or gatherings.
More support will follow in Term 4, building on the positive feedback to date and taking account of the continuing priorities that teachers and practitioners identify.
School leaders are engaging with their professional networks, local authorities and with national agencies for advice and support in relation to use of digital platforms that will best support learning. Privacy and safeguarding should be a primary concern when considering use of any online tools, particularly in respect of live video conferencing or when signing pupils up for a service using their personal details. The General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS) has published Engaging Online, which provides guidance on this.
Glow has been developed and configured with safeguarding, child protection, information security and the GDPR as primary considerations. The public facing Glow Connect website includes a range of advice, guidance and support on all aspects of Glow usage, including account management and provision, and 'how to' guides for the range of services on offer. This will help school leaders and teachers and practitioners to choose activity and appropriate tools and configure online spaces for collaboration and engagement with learners.
To support digital learning, all partners in the education system are working together to ensure:
- the provision of clear guidance and direction for teachers and practitioners about the digital platforms that can, and more importantly, cannot be used in view of online safety – beyond the Glow platform, these will be local decisions respecting the position of local authorities as data controllers;
- that online services, functionality and configurations are made in full recognition of data protection, information security, safeguarding and child protection.
Education Scotland is continuing to engage with individual local authorities and partners to review the Glow service offering and to make changes where appropriate, including for online safety purposes. Education Scotland will also:
- make use of its network of 'Glow key contacts' in local authorities who are supporting the use of the Glow service across Scotland. Regular contact (weekly or more frequently if required) will enable Glow key contacts to raise issues directly with the Glow team at Education Scotland.
- further enhance the Glow Connect site, providing information, advice and user guidance on all Glow services and engaging with local authorities to understand where there are gaps.
- develop and deliver a range of other support with local authorities and teachers and practitioners.
Learning at home – equity of support
We are very aware that the current situation is likely to affect disproportionately the most disadvantaged children and young people in our society. We recognise and value the efforts which colleagues across the country have already made to support our most disadvantaged children. Against that background, the Scottish Government has provided local authorities with the flexibility they need to redirect resources aimed at closing the attainment gap to help mitigate the impacts of school closures on our most disadvantaged families.
Flexible use of The Attainment Scotland Funding - comprising Pupil Equity Funding, Challenge Authority funding, Schools' Programme Funding and Care Experienced Children and Young People funding – can play an important part in mitigating the impact of home learning arrangements that may prove more challenging for our most disadvantaged families to adapt to. Local authority/school level Pupil Equity Funding allocations will be announced by the Scottish Government shortly.
There are already examples of schools and local authorities deploying the additional funding flexibly to support disadvantaged learners in innovative ways. Examples of this include: providing laptops/tablets; the purchase and delivery of books and other learning material; providing transport to enable some learners to attend local authority hubs and childcare provision; and supporting home-school link workers to maintain regular contact with children.
Extraordinary circumstances require creative approaches: we would encourage schools and local authorities to continue to seek innovative solutions to the challenges faced.
The Scottish Government's 'No One Left Behind' project is currently working with industry and other partners to identify and support digitally excluded households, whether that be through devices, connectivity or skills.
The extent to which teachers and practitioners have access to digital devices, or are digitally connected, will impact on their ability to connect with pupils. These factors will be carefully considered by partners and addressed wherever possible.
Support for Learning at Home for children with additional support needs
For some children who have additional support needs, their parents and carers may find it particularly challenging to support their learning when they are at home. While almost all children and young people will continue to learn at home, it may be necessary for some children and young people to access appropriate provision within their local authority.
The Scottish Government will continue to work closely with local authority partners to ensure families have the advice and support they need at this time. This will include providing support to the Enquire service and additional guidance will be added to the Parent Club Scotland website.
All partners in the education system will work together to signpost parents and carers to:
- CALL Scotland which has information on tools that parents can use to support home learning, such as overlays and text to speech.
- The Reach – which provides information to young people on coping while schools are closed.
Enquire – which provides advice for parents and carers of children with additional support needs.
Support for Transitions
Local authorities, head teachers and teachers are experienced and skilled in leading transition arrangements. For Term 4, and looking ahead to the next session, schools, clusters and local authorities are considering new and innovative approaches to transition in relation to curriculum and wellbeing matters. This will include consideration of a wide range of factors, including the challenges faced by young people who have been particularly affected by COVID-19. This could be due to illness or bereavement, the impact of social isolation or experiencing poverty for the first time. The importance of relationships at a local level is paramount to successful work in this area.
To support local authorities and schools, Education Scotland is developing further bespoke Term 4 guidance to assist in planning for the many transitions that take place during Term 4. These materials will be available in early May.
Appropriate links will also be made to joint Scottish Government and local authority work on employability for those young people moving into further education or employment.