Full Return For Education in Highland Following Scottish Government Confirmation
30th July 2020
Today's announcement from the First Minister is very much what we have been anticipating and preparing for in our return to Highland education settings. It is a great reassurance that we can now continue with our work to achieve a full return of pupils and staff, including those who were previously shielding, in August.
Chair of Education Cllr John Finlayson welcomed the news. He said: "As always, the safety and wellbeing of our pupils, their families and our staff remain our priority. Officers are working to ensure Highland schools meet the Government and our parents expectations on safety measures such as ventilation, good hygiene practices and improved cleaning regimes.
We will continue to be guided by Scottish Government advice, and have contingency plans in place if we should need them. Officers will be reviewing our communications following this announcement, and information will be issued over the coming days to parents, carers and school staff. I am sure all stakeholders, will be pleased and relieved to hear that as normal as possible a return to school, is now confirmed."
In a report being presented to The Highland Council's Recovery Board on 24th August, Steve Walsh, High Life Highland's Chief Executive, has outlined the charity's road to financial recovery thanks to its bounceback campaign. Mr Walsh explained, "It now seems like an over-used phrase, but when the pandemic hit in March it was clear that High Life Highland, along with every other organisation was facing unprecedented challenges.
On Tuesday 11 August 2020, Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, announced in the Scottish Parliament a change to the way that SQA results would be decided. In some cases, the moderation process carried out by the SQA during July and August had meant that candidates might be awarded a lower or higher grade than their teacher had estimated.
Members of The Highland Council's Housing and Property Committee have agreed a one-year capital investment plan of £15.667 million to be spent improving existing housing stock - £1 million of which will be specifically to fund aids and adaptations for disabled tenants. The money will be allocated on an area-by-area basis with local members making decisions on projects to be carried out during 2021-2022.
Members of The Highland Council's Housing and Property Committee have had the chance to discuss the progress made to implement a Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan aimed at tackling homelessness. In November 2018 the Scottish Government and COSLA published the "Ending Homelessness Together" Action Plan which included the recommendation that all local authorities produce Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans to document how they would tackle homelessness.
All Highland Council school lets will remain suspended to assist in the Government's goal in suppressing the coronavirus. We will review this position in October and will reopen the lets booking process, in line with national Covid-19 guidance, when it is deemed safe to do so.
Members of today's postponed Corporate Resources Committee have supported recommendations contained in item 9 of today's report, regarding critical issues around COVID-19 school trip refunds. Those members who would have been in attendance at today's meeting were contacted by the Chair of the Committee, Cllr Alister Mackinnon, due to the importance of a decision being made on this item.
Pupils travelling by dedicated school transport. ‘Dedicated school transport' means transport which is only available to pupils.
Pupils whose results were downgraded by the SQA are to receive new grades based solely on teacher estimates. The SQA's alternative certification model was put in place after exams were cancelled due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Notice is hereby given under section 11(2) (b) of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 ("the Act") that Highland Council proposes to make The Highland Council (Limekiln Forest, Reay, Caithness) Order 2020 ("the Order") under section 11(1) of the Act. The effect of the Order will be to exempt a 7.8km length of forest track at Limekiln Forest, Reay, Caithness (part of Limekiln Forest Core Path CA11.03) from the access rights which would otherwise be exercisable in respect of the land by virtue of Part 1 of the Act.
The Highland Council, NHS Highland and Police Scotland are working closely to ensure that we all stay alert to the threat of COVID-19. The public are being asked to be vigilant and observe all guidance especially when attending licensed premises.