Falkirk teachers are 'unsung heroes' of 2020 pandemic says chief executive

Falkirk Council's chief executive has described teachers as the "unsung heroes" of the Coronavirus crisis.

By Kirsty Paterson
Monday, 28th December 2020, 12:43 pm
Falkirk Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn and the local authority's chief executive Kenneth Lawrie
Falkirk Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn and the local authority's chief executive Kenneth Lawrie

Kenneth Lawrie says the way they have kept schools open and infections low has been remarkable in the face of "constant pressure and challenge.”

He also paid tribute to pupils for working with staff to keep everyone safe.

Mr Lawrie’s comments came as he looked back on the most challenging year for schools - and ahead to 2021 as it prepares for delayed start to the new term with the Christmas holidays already extended.

Pupils were praised for their commitment

He said: "In the whole time since the schools went back in August we've had fewer than 70 teachers and children get infected out of a school and teacher population of over 25,000.

"That's a real testament to how things have been done - and the care and dedication of the staff.

"Pupils have obviously worked with them and that is really impressive and really remarkable."

Mr Lawrie says that the education authority is now ready to cope with the fact that pupils will not return to the classroom before January 18, at the earliest, and home learning will be in place from January 11.

"It's still a big challenge but all of the work we've done puts us in a stronger position than we were in - for example, getting equipment out and helping with issues such as broadband.

The hubs will be open for the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils from January 7, the date that Falkirk pupils should have returned to school.

"In terms of everything from social distancing to one way systems and all of the practicalities around that, we're good at that now and we'll make it work because we've shown we can," said Mr Lawrie.

"The remarkable thing about Falkirk - and it has been surrounded by areas which have had consistently higher levels of infection - is that, aside from a small blip, we have consistently had one of the lower rates in Scotland.

"In other council areas, not so far away from here, children have been losing really large amounts of their education because several periods of isolation have been required due to the number of infections - but, in general, that's been less here and we've done really well."

Mr Lawrie added: "We'll get things up and running and we'll education back into a great position really quickly after January because we've got the knowledge and the ability to do that now."

The dramatic changes in education were also underlined by the leader of Falkirk Council as she looked ahead to 2021.

Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, added that home schooling was now a very different prospect for parents who had worked with the schools to make it work.

She said: "We have learned to better communicate with parents throughout Covid and there are some good ways of communicating with all parents now, right down to an individual level.

"That's being supported in the child's learning during the home schooling."

Parents and pupils can find out more about the support that is available for home learning by visiting Connected Falkirk.

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