More teachers, digital devices and support for families.
A new package of £45 million will help local authorities to provide support to schools and families as they deal with the challenges of remote learning during lockdown, Education Secretary John Swinney confirmed today.
Councils may use the funding – sufficient to fund 2,000 additional teachers – for purposes including recruitment of additional staff, additional digital devices or to provide additional family support. This is on top of £160 million already committed for education recovery since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total additional support provided to more than £200 million since the start of the pandemic. Private and third sector day care of children settings will also receive almost £4 million in temporary financial support.
Mr Swinney has also asked HM Inspectors of Education to commence with a national review of the quality and effectiveness of remote learning across the country with the first report published next Friday, 22 January.
We will ensure all appropriate mitigations are in place to support a safe return including enhancing our testing programme in schools. We expect that pilots of two different testing models – one using in-school testing with Lateral Flow Devices (LFD), and another involving at-home testing using PCR tests – will begin in a small number of schools from next week.
Mr Swinney said:
“I appreciate only too well the additional burden home learning is placing on many of our children and their families. After the last period of school building closures we commissioned an Equity Audit, published today, to better understand the impact on children’s learning and health and wellbeing, particularly disadvantaged pupils.
“Since the start of the pandemic our funding has led to an additional 1,400 teachers and over 200 support staff being appointed. The new funding can be used to recruit further staff – which might include teachers, classroom assistants, administrative staff, home/school link workers or other support workers – as well as the resources that families and schools need to support home learning, including additional digital devices where there is any remaining unmet need, and other home learning resources.
“The quality and effectiveness of remote learning across the country will be reviewed by HM Inspectors of Education. A programme of ‘national overviews’, will commence immediately and last for the duration of remote learning. These will seek to identify what is working well and where further improvement is required. These overviews will be published weekly to ensure they are available for everyone to learn and build from, starting week ending 22 January.
“I am aware that remaining open for very small numbers of children creates pressure for some childcare providers, and I can therefore confirm we will make temporary financial support of up to £3.8 million available for each four week period of restrictions to day care of children providers and childminding settings caring for 12 or more children who remain open for vulnerable and keyworker children during these restrictions. We will confirm details as soon as possible.
“If the evidence tells us we can get some pupils back safely, we will do that, and we will ensure the package of mitigations in schools remains robust and tailored to the circumstances we face. As part of that work, we expect that pilots of two different testing models – one using in-school testing with Lateral Flow Devices, and another involving at-home testing using PCR tests – will begin in a small number of schools from next week, helping to inform options for wider rollout.
“I am grateful to our hardworking, dedicated teaching professionals for their intense work to plan, organise and deliver learning. The virus will be beaten, and schools will return fully to intensify our efforts to achieve excellence and equity for all of Scotland’s children.”
Advice and support for parents and carers is available at the Parent Club.
The Equity Audit is available here.
Further information on the support for private and third sector childcare providers is available here.