Published 22 June 2020

A new model for education has been put in place across West Dunbartonshire to ensure pupils and staff can return safely to schools in August.

Following the summer break, young people will start a phased return to their education on Wednesday 12 August, and Education staff and teachers have been working tirelessly to ensure Early Learning Centres, Primary and Secondary schools can operate in line with national guidance around physical distancing and hygiene.

These necessary measures mean that not all of the 12,542 school children will be able to attend at the same time, and the new way of working will see them instead benefit from a mix of in-school learning, learning online,  and offline learning with materials provided.

To support pupils’ learning, a new virtual school called campus@wdc  has been created. This is being lead by experienced Head Teacher John McDonald, and  will enhance digital learning with a mixture of live lessons and pre-recorded videos from teaching staff .

In ELCCs, children will be split into two groups, both attending on a 600 hour model which equates to 16 hours across two full days, and an additional half day every second week.

In primary schools, pupils will attend two days each week and the remaining days will be spent at home doing a mix of online learning and completing work sent with the child from school. This work will be reviewed when they return to the classroom to ensure pupil progress is monitored.

Each secondary school will design a bespoke model of learning to suit individual schools, meaning the number of days students spend in-school will vary. As a minimum, senior phase pupils in S4, S5 and S6 will attend school two days every week with students in S1, S2 and S3 attending one day each week. In addition, pupils will receive one day of  targeted support  every week..

Childcare Hubs for children of key workers  and pupils who have not fully engaged in home learning will continue to operate, with provision also available throughout the summer holidays.

The new model will initially be in place until October, when it will be reviewed in line with Scottish Government guidance.

In addition to restricting the number of staff and pupils in the buildings at the same time, a number of other measures have been put in place to ensure a safe return.

This has included installing 682 hand sanitiser stations and 300 cleaning wipe dispensers.

In addition, regular hand washing will be undertaken by all pupils and staff with additional sinks installed where required and break times and pick up times will be staggered to reduce children arriving and leaving together.

A one way system will be in operation in buildings, and we have created age-appropriate signage to remind all pupils of the importance of physical distancing.

Laura Mason, Chief Education Officer at West Dunbartonshire Council, said: “We know the impact the closure of schools is having on our young people and we understand the concerns parents and carers have. We all want to see pupils returning to school and full time education as soon as they possibly can.

“The model developed for schools is the only feasible way we could bring pupils back under the current two metre physical distancing restrictions. I want to reassure families that  we will continue to actively review those plans daily in line with Scottish Government guidance and as soon as we can bring additional numbers of our pupils back into schools for more face to face learning, we will do so.

“The entire education team in West Dunbartonshire, including teachers and support staff, have worked tirelessly over the last three months and we all have a common goal of seeing all of our young people back in school.  

“The social, emotional and physical wellbeing and development of our young people remains our priority and during this time when pupils are not physically in school, they will have access to a new way of digital learning via a virtual classroom, which will offer live and pre-recorded lessons. Teaching staff will continue to be available for support, and will also provide materials for working on at home to monitor progress.”