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Highland Council sets out careful and gradual approach on school's return to Education and Learning

18th June 2020

Today, The Highland Council's approach to a phased reopening of schools and Education Learning and Care (ELC) settings in the Highland region was discussed by Members at the Recovery Board.

Guided by the national framework, Highland Council will look at the local and individual circumstances of each of it's 203 school and ELC settings to provide the safest and most valuable learning experience possible to its 50,000 children and young people when term resumes in August.

Newly appointed Executive Chief Officer for Education and Learning, Paul Senior, has commissioned a programme management office (PMO) to ensure the effective delivery of this programme of work. The PMO, comprised of 11 sub-groups, consists of a range of local area partners, stakeholders and providers, meeting weekly to develop operational plans, risks assessments and develop a shared approach to progressing matters. These 11 Sub Groups cover the following areas:

Transport

Communications

ELC

Catering

Facilities Management

People

ICT

North Area Project

West Area Project

Mid Area Project

South Area Project

Executive Chief Officer for Education and Learning, Paul Senior, said: "Wellbeing and safety is a top priority for all our children, staff and communities. There are 203 schools in the Highlands, all with different sizes and configurations in response to the needs of their respective communities. We will continue to work with our key partners, stakeholders and providers to ensure our educational settings are safe but also positioned to provide the best possible Learning and Teaching experiences for our children and young people, taking account of the restrictions presented by the Covid-19 crisis".

Chair of the Education Committee, Cllr John Finlayson, added: "The Recovery Board has discussed the many areas needed for deliberation to safely get our young people back to school. Future plans and risk assessments will take account of children’s educational outcomes, equal opportunities, social and emotional needs and their rights.

Communication with parents is key and plans at individual school level will, of course, be informed by national guidance, authority guidance and very importantly local circumstances. We all want to get our young people back in the school setting as soon as possible, but this needs to be done as safely as possible".

Chair of the Recovery Board and Depute Leader Alasdair Christie said: “The Recovery Board welcomed the proposals put forward today for the return of Education in Highland. We will all be working together with parents and communities to ensure that the arrangements are as smooth as possible and in line with government guidelines.”

 

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