When will schools fully reopen?

Scotland's education secretary admits a phased return to school is likely – with certain age groups prioritised
25th January 2021, 11:32am
Henry Hepburn

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When will schools fully reopen?

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/when-will-schools-fully-reopen
Coronavirus: When Will Schools Fully Reopen In Scotland? Education Secretary John Swinney Has Suggested That A Phased Return Of Schools Is Likely

Scotland's education secretary, John Swinney, was asked when all pupils would return to school buildings, during an interview on the BBC's Politics Scotland.

Coronavirus: Getting all pupils back to school

Here's what he said:

How much notice will schools and families get?

Mr Swinney said that "we will try to give as much notice about the return to face-to-face learning as we possibly can do, and I would like to give about two weeks' notice, if that is possible and practical, to enable people to make their plans".

The education secretary, who was asked about suggestions that teachers and pupils may not return fully to school buildings until May (the current target is mid-February, to be reviewed on 2 February), added that "we can only progress on that agenda if the safety of staff and pupils can be assured in the model that we take forward - that has always been my preoccupation in all of the steps that we have taken".

Will certain groups of pupils return first?

"Pragmatically, it is likely that it will be a phased return of pupils in different cohorts," said Mr Swinney. "We are exploring the merits of early learning and childcare and some of the younger primary age groups returning at an earlier stage than other pupils."

He added that "we're also exploring the position in relation to senior phase pupils - the S4-6 pupils who'll be facing national qualifications - [and] at the position of pupils with additional support needs, so these are likely to be the groups that we consider first".

The interviewer also raised speculation that, if pupils do not return soon, it may be necessary for at least some to repeat the school year, but Mr Swinney did not respond to this.

Was it mistake for all pupils to return to school buildings in August?

"No, it was the correct decision," said Mr Swinney. "Community transmission was at a very low level…it was a decision that was supported by all stakeholders within Scotland, because it was justifiable and because our schools were safe."

He added that "we know that if children and young people are not getting face-to-face tuition, their education is diminished".

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