Falkirk's teachers doing whatever it takes to educate their pupils

Doctors and nurses are being rightly praised for their vital roles during the coronavirus crisis but teachers are also going above and beyond the call of duty for our children.

Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 3:27 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 3:28 pm

While those same doctors and nurses have to deal with COVID-19 patients, their fundamental caring and treatment roles remain unchanged – apart from wearing PPE, of course.

However, teachers are now having to teach the majority of youngsters remotely instead of the normal “hands-on” approach in classrooms.

Larbert High School rector, and the head of the area’s digital education project, Jon Reid believes teachers in primary and secondary schools have more than met the challenge.

Larbert High School rector Jon Reid joins pupils at last year's senior prize giving ceremony before the teaching landscape was changed by the coronvirus crisis

He said: “The staff have achieved so much in such a short space of time – they had to change the way they teach and the way they deliver activities. Most staff are used to using the different digital platforms, it has just been a case of scaling it up.

“We are quite lucky in Falkirk because we have had a good staff development programme over the last few years and if they are not as confident with the digital side of things there are people there to support them.

“Staff have been working really hard to increase online opportunities and we’ve had a lot of positive feedback from pupils.”

While schools continue to provide topics and lessons pupils remotely, leaving them to their own devices – literally – to complete the work, there are plans to create even more engagement with teaching staff.

Mr Reid said: “What we are moving towards now is video lessons taking place – we had 70 higher physics pupils tuning in to a video lesson recently. If there are pupils who have not been able to access these lessons at the time they can log on at another time and catch up.”

If families do not have any online access then their children can still take part in lessons with schools delivering paper copies to their homes.

While they cannot exactly put their hands up to ask the teacher when they have a question, there is online support for pupils who may be struggling.

Mr Reid said: “We can see who is logging on so we can check in with those who don’t look as though they are engaging and just ask if everything is okay. Pupil support staff have also been checking up on our more vulnerable pupils to find out how they are coping.”

Mr Reid confirmed Falkirk Council has given the go ahead to the Connected Falkirk initiative, which aims to put a digital device – probably a chromebook or i-Pad – in the hands of every single primary six to secondary school sixth year pupil.

He added: “Connected Falkirk is a really forward thinking commitment from the council. We want Falkirk to be the best when it comes to digital education, that’s our ambition.”

And as time moves on and restrictions are relaxed or changed, Mr Reid said the teaching staff are more than prepared to adapt further.

“We have been planning for number of different scenarios so we are not on the back foot.”