School inspectors in Scotland are to start assessing the quality of remote learning “immediately”, education secretary John Swinney has announced.
He told the Scottish Parliament that “a programme of national overviews will commence immediately and last for the duration of remote learning”.
Mr Swinney added: “These will evaluate what is working well and where further improvement is required, based on information collected from varied sources, including engagement with schools and local authorities.”
Also this week: Call for government to rethink exam replacement plans
Mr Swinney said that inspectors “are this week evaluating the first focus area – local authority planning and guidance on remote learning”. He added: “These overviews will be published weekly. The first report will be published by Friday 22 January.”
He also said: “Schools are, rightly, deeply focused on delivering quality remote education now: we will make sure these reviews do not distract or burden them while providing important assurance to parents and ensuring further improvement in the remote learning offer where needed.”
There were a number of sceptical and angry responses on Twitter shortly after the announcement was made late this morning.
One teacher’s reaction to the idea that Education Scotland inspectors would ascertain the quality of remote learning was to write: “One’s first instinct is to ask: how is it possible to believe they’d be able to do that?
In addition, Mr Swinney, who is also deputy first minister, announced “£45 million of new funding to allow local authorities to deploy more support to their schools and families”, for “devices for children who still need them, [to] recruit additional staff, and provide support to parents and families to engage with home learning”.
He added: “The funding is sufficient in principle to support the recruitment of an additional 2,000 teaching staff up until the end of the financial year.”
On getting pupils back into schools, Mr Swinney said: “As the first minister has made clear, this is not a simple choice between opening and closing schools – if the evidence tells us we can get some pupils back safely, we will maximise the numbers able to benefit.”
After his statement, Mr Swinney was asked, by the Scottish Greens’ education spokesperson Ross Greer, to respond to staff safety concerns in special schools where, in some cases, all pupils are still attending. Mr Swinney replied that the issues raised “are being explored”.
Many special school staff are comparable to care workers in terms of their exposure risk due to unavoidable close contact. They should be prioritised for vaccines on the same basis as care workers. Good that government are considering this but need a decision ASAP. https://t.co/AmKRAGMoTN— Ross Greer (@Ross_Greer) January 13, 2021