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Education Scotland to review remote learning practices

Nigel French/EMPICS Entertainment

Education Scotland to review remote learning practices

Education inspectors have been instructed to review remote learning taking place across Scotland as school sites remain closed.

Pupils began learning at home on Monday as new public health restrictions mean only the children of key workers and the most vulnerable children have access to in-school learning.

Education secretary John Swinney confirmed in a statement to parliament there would be a series of overviews published for the duration of remote learning.

The first of these overviews, to be published on Friday 22 January, will focus on local authority planning and guidance.

Swinney said: “The quality and effectiveness of remote learning across the country will be reviewed by HM Inspectors of Education. A programme of national overviews will commence immediately and last for the duration of remote learning.

“These will evaluate what is working well and where further improvement is required, based on information collected from variant sources, including engagement with schools and local authorities.”

Scottish Conservative education spokesperson Jamie Green criticised differences between school and council approaches across Scotland, attributing this to “uncertainties” about how remote learning should be delivered.

He said: “Why, ten months into this pandemic, are there still so many uncertainties, such as why access to meaningful remote learning has become a postcode lottery, whether or not teachers are supposed to perform live lessons, and many questions still remain over this year’s qualifications model.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour’s Iain Gray asked why there had not been a sufficient “stress test” of Education Scotland IT infrastructure, following a difficult start to the week as Microsoft Teams – the platform Glow is based on – experienced problems.

Swinney said the government expected Microsoft to “fulfil its obligation” as product supplier and that the company had since “addressed these issues to our satisfaction”.

The education secretary also said the number of children receiving in-school education must be kept to an “absolute minimum” and urged employers to ensure their staff are only taking up the option when necessary.

He announced extra funding would be provided for daycare to ensure there were fewer children in school, up to £3.8m for every four weeks of lockdown, while cash for childminders was being given further consideration.

In addition, £45m will be given to local authorities to provide electronic devices to children to support e-learning, as well as recruit additional teaching staff.

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