EDUCATION chiefs in East Renfrewshire have drawn up a ‘Plan B’ to allow children to spend more time in classrooms once schools return in August – but it will only be implemented if coronavirus is being conquered.

As things stand, youngsters attending nursery or primary school are only guaranteed to be in class for two days a week, either on Mondays and Tuesdays or Thursdays and Fridays.
Children at secondary school will attend lessons for at least five half-days a week, in a combination of mornings and afternoons.

For the rest of the time, kids may have to be taught at home, as part of a ‘blended learning’ approach.

However, East Renfrewshire Council has stressed that these are contingency plans – and have pledged that, if social distancing is relaxed over the summer, then the amount of learning in school will be increased.

Whilst headteachers have been drawing up plans based on the current two-metre guidance, they also have alternative plans based on social distancing of one metre, which can be swiftly implemented if national guidance is changed.

Schools started contacting local parents yesterday to provide them with details of which days their children will be in school after the summer break.

The council also plans to increase in-school learning time within a few weeks of the August 12 return, as long as national guidelines allow for this.

It said the popularity of East Renfrewshire’s top-performing schools has posed “significant challenges” in drawing up plans for the return of pupils.

A range of options are being explored by the council to safely accommodate children and staff whilst adhering to social distancing measures.

These include more outdoor learning, the use of portable buildings and the use of suitable non-education council and non-council buildings.

This will be in addition to maximising existing space within schools.

Work on all of these options will continue over the summer holidays and parents will be informed of any changes relevant to their children’s schooling.

Councillor Paul O’Kane, East Renfrewshire’s education convener, said: “East Renfrewshire Council is acutely aware of the challenges pupils and parents have faced in continuing young people’s education during coronavirus lockdown measures.

“I can assure everyone a huge amount of effort has been put in by staff to provide remote learning and in drawing up the plans for pupils returning to schools in August.

“The safety of our young people and staff has been our top priority and individual schools are contacting parents to share more details with them on what their children will be doing after the summer holidays.

“East Renfrewshire has a long track record in educational excellence and innovation and we have used all of that experience to draw up these plans, in consultation with our Parent Councils and trade union partners.

Council chiefs have also confirmed plans for the children of key workers to be cared for five days a week from August.

More information on how schools will operate from August, including a ‘frequently asked questions’ section, can be found online HERE.