Here’s why Falkirk school will not return full-time in August

Falkirk schools will not return to full-time teaching for the first two weeks of the new term. 

By Kirsty Paterson
Thursday, 9th July 2020, 7:30 am

Education chiefs say this ‘soft start’ puts the well-being and safety of pupils at the heart of their approach and will allow pupils and staff to adjust to being back at school after more than four months away. 

The arrangements mean staff will return on Monday, August 10 for two days of in-service and pupils will return on a phased basis from Wednesday, August 12.

This week schools will contact individual families to tell them the arrangements for each pupil.

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From August 24, all pupils should be back at school full-time – unless there is a new wave of the virus or any local spikes.

Before the start of the summer holidays, Falkirk Council’s education team had been preparing for pupils to return to ‘blended learning’ between school and home.

However, as the letters to parents were being sent out, Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced in the Scottish Parliament that pupils would be expected to attend full-time in August if the virus remained low.

Council chiefs have now decided that the sensible option is to keep the plans they had in place for two weeks – a phased return that will, they hope, help pupils cope with a return to the routine of school.

It will also give pupils and staff a chance to get to grips with new infection control measures that will be in place, while primary one and S1 pupils, who have missed out on transition experiences, will be able to find their feet before the rest of the pupils return.

The decision was taken at a meeting of Falkirk Council’s emergency executive on Tuesday.

Pupils will return full-time on August 24, although this is dependent on the coronavirus remaining at low levels locally.

If there is a spike in virus transmissions, the arrangements that had been made for a part-time return to school will be used.

Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “Going into lockdown was so much easier than coming out and getting our schools back into education – whether full-time or part-time – has been hugely challenging.

“While going back into full-time education is much easier, it does bring challenges with the new way of working and that’s one of the reasons we’ve adopted the soft start approach.

“This recognises that our children need time to adjust as we get them back to school – it allows them to re-socialise with their peers and to talk about their experiences of lockdown.

“This is an unprecedented and historic event that’s going to have affected everybody – including our children.

“It will also allow children going into primary one and S1 to become orientated with their surroundings and build relationships  with their peers and school staff.

“We felt that was very important and we’ve taken a lot of guidance from our teaching staff on this.”

As teachers in Falkirk will return a week earlier than previously planned, an extra week will be added on to the October holidays.

This brings forward a proposal that was agreed after 
consultation with parents and staff.