Education Chair Welcomes Return Of More Pupils To Highland School Settings
3rd March 2021
The First Minister announced yesterday (2 March 2021) to the Scottish Parliament that all remaining primary school children are to return to school full-time from 15 March, with all secondary pupils returning in some form from the 15 March and until the 2 April.
Welcoming the announcement, Chair of the Education Committee, Cllr John Finlayson said: "I am delighted that we can see the return of more of our pupils to school settings in the next couple of weeks.
“While we were anticipating the return of our P4 to P7 pupils and more of our Senior Phase pupils back into schools, the inclusion of our S1 to S3 pupils is a welcome surprise although we do clearly recognise the additional challenges this presents.
“We have been working towards detailed plans to accommodate the increase in numbers in our settings and I am confident that our schools will be able to establish detailed plans which take into account the number of pupils based on accommodation, safety, transport and other relevant judgements that support the national guidelines, prior to their safe return.
“I can appreciate that, given the diverse nature of our schools, this task will be easier to implement in some settings than others. However, the Scottish Government has provided local authorities with some flexibility and the implementation of our phased return will rightly be led by individual schools. This flexibility which supports local circumstances is clearly needed in Highland as we have over 200 schools of different sizes across both rural and urban areas covering a land mass bigger than the size of Belgium.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank each member of staff who has supported our delivery of Education to date and who are now involved in helping our pupils return safely to their schools, to our pupils for their continued resilience throughout the pandemic, and to our parents and carers for their ongoing understanding and patience. We will be providing more information very soon and each school will be in touch with parents and carers as they develop their own plans."
In addition to the full-time return of primary school children and part-time return of all secondary pupils, it is the Scottish Government's expectation that all secondary pupils will be back in school on a full-time basis following the Easter holidays.
Further guidance is to be made available from the Scottish Government to the Council, and subsequently an update to parents is expected early next week.
Visit www.highland.gov.uk/backtoschool for information, support and updates.
Members at today's full meeting of Highland Council agreed a motion from the Leader and Chair of Corporate Resources, which would call for a fairer share of income derived from the development of the region’s natural resources to establish a Highland Renewable Fund. In the motion Highland Council Leader, Cllr Margaret Davidson, highlighted that at a time when private energy companies are making huge profits from the abundance of natural resources of wind and water in the Highlands the region’s roads were suffering.
At the Highland Council Gaelic committee to beheld on 18th May 2021 the committee will be asked to agree that the National Mòd for Inverness in 2021 should be given a further £80,000. The council has an agreement to pay £40,000 annually that aids the Mod to come to Highland every three years.
Anja Johnston from Thurso will take up the role of Highland Youth Convener early in May 2021 This full-time role is a bursary position that will run for 12 months. The 24-year-old, has previously worked as an Assistant Youth Worker, delivering the YOJO digital youth project with High Life Highland.
Since the launch of the Highland Employment Recruitment Offer (HERO) in March 2021, there has been a positive uptake of the grant scheme across Highland as 157 applications have been approved in principle, with 73 recruited/currently being recruited. HERO is funded by The Highland Council and the Scottish Government under the No One Left Behind and Young Person's Guarantee Funding Streams.
Members of the Highland Council's Economy and Infrastructure Committee have agreed to allocate up to £200k of the Council's Cycling, Walking and Safer Routes 2021/22 grant award to the delivery of a new Council 20mph programme, and 10% of this annual budget is to be used in future years. The introduction of more 20 mph speed limits on Highland roads will help the Council to meet the challenging road casualty reduction targets set out in the new Scottish Road Safety Framework launched in February this year.
With the majority of businesses re-opening this week, Highland Council's Environmental Health team with assistance from Police Scotland will be undertaking joint visits to premises throughout the Highlands. The visits aim to help raise public confidence that businesses are doing all they can to protect public safety as the lockdown restrictions are eased.
A bid to fund the design and delivery of over £55 Million of transport infrastructure in Highland was submitted to Transport Scotland today. A partnership including The Highland Council, bus operators and other stakeholders has put together a package of measures to prioritise buses in congested parts of the network.
The Highland Council is inviting people to follow them on YouTube so that the local authority can broadcast live the Highland constituencies and the Highland and Islands Regional results. Please follow (subscribe to) Highland Council's YouTube at: www.youtube.com/user/TheHighlandCouncil (external link) Constituency and Regional Returning Officer, Donna Manson explained: "Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the need to provide a safe election we are facing new challenges and opportunities in delivering the Scottish Parliamentary Election count and declaration of results.
The Highland Council's Tourism Committee has approved a final draft Visitor Management Plan for 2021 yesterday (Wednesday 21 April) which aims to assist communities and the public during the anticipated busy summer months. Chair of the Tourism Committee, Cllr Gordon Adam said: "Welcoming visitors back to the Highlands from Monday 26 April is a positive sign that the road to recovery can finally commence.
Twelve successful projects have been awarded a share of £409,652 Highland Coastal Communities Fund (HCCF) yesterday (Thursday 22 April 2021) by The Highland Council's Caithness Committee. £98,803 was agreed to be invested in moving forward an economic development project that will benefit the whole of Caithness, with a view to securing match funding for local partners.