HEAD TEACHER'S UPDATE 22 JANUARY 2021

The update by the First Minister sees us continuing with remote learning until Friday 5 February. Nicola Sturgeon has said that this will be reviewed by the Scottish Government on Tuesday 2 February. This is a position that none of us want to be in but appreciate that everyone’s health and safety comes first and foremost and we hope that the news in the near future gives us hope for a return to face:face teaching soon.

Engagement in remote learning seems to be high still and this is not only down to the young people’s motivation to keep their learning going but also due to the work of our staff team in providing a mix of learning through prepared tasks, live lessons, pre-recorded lessons and Google Meets. It is also down to the fantastic support from you as parents/carers in supporting your young people with routines at home and encouraging them to link with their teachers and progress their learning.  Thank you!  I have just sent out a link to all pupils, parents/carers and teaching staff for views on remote learning over the last two weeks and I would really appreciate your feedback on this.  We can use this feedback to know what we are doing well and what aspects we need to improve.

I met with Mr Miller and a group of nineteen young people earlier this week and majority of them were very positive about their experiences so far, the mixture of learning tasks (including Google Meets, live and recorded lessons) and also the feedback they have had from their teachers. 

This week we held assemblies for our S4-S6 pupils and spoke with them about expectations of engagement, flexibility of approach and their mental health and wellbeing. We also said that at present we don’t have any further information from SQA but as soon as we do we will hold another assembly to update them on this, as well as writing home to parents and carers. We highlighted to them that for S4-S6:

  • In the current period of remote learning, formative assessment continues to be used for the purposes of informing teacher judgement of pupil progress through course content and to identify additional support required by pupils in their learning.
  • That our current focus is to provide quality teaching and learning in relation to course content.
  • Assessment through remote learning will not be for the purposes of SQA verification of grades at the moment.

We have spoken to our young people about focusing on the ‘quality’ of their work over ‘quantity,’ and pacing themselves. We stressed the need to submit work to their teachers to ensure they get feedback to help them progress and if they are able to, to engage in Google Meets to collaborate with their peers and teachers and to ask questions.

We asked our young people if they require any support whatsoever to contact their House teams (see below for details of these).

S4 Virtual Parents’ Evening

Thank you to all parents/carers and pupils who attended these meetings with teachers to review performance and next steps in learning. Thank you also to the parents/carers who have sent some very positive feedback commending these virtual parents’ evenings.

Parent Council

If you would like to come along to our next Parent Council on Thursday 28 January, please let Lesley Pirie (Chair) know by emailing her at parentcouncil@ka-net.org.uk so you can be invited to the virtual meeting. 

S3-S6 Course Choices/Learner Pathway Reviews

At present the coursing process for S2-5 will continue as planned. The revised Curriculum Booklets will be made available on the school website by 27 January and additional information for parents/ carers and pupils will also be made available to support the process. This will include a Google Form that will be emailed to pupils, in order for them to indicate their choices prior to the coursing interviews. Depending on the circumstances, these interviews will either be conducted in school or via Google Meet.

Foundation Apprenticeships – East Lothian Works (also linked to learner pathway choices)

In light of the current restrictions and not being able to come into schools to host information sessions, East Lothian has scheduled some virtual events. They will host 5 events covering Foundation Apprenticeships, School College Partnership, Full Time College Courses, Post School Opportunities (MA, EF, Trainee Opportunities) and Employment Support (CV Building, Interview Prep, Job Opportunities). The aim of the events is to provide information to pupils and parents around what these areas are and how we can support young people wishing to explore or apply for any of these opportunities.

The events will be hosted on Google Meet to allow pupils to access through their Edubuzz accounts.

The first event will be Foundation Apprenticeships on Wednesday 27 January, 5:30 – 6pm. The link for the meeting is -

meet.google.com/eah-vsmr-bdc

They hope that hosting these events will be helpful and assist pupils and parents with any questions they may have.

Future events will be confirmed in due course. They are hoping to have the college events just after the February break with the last two events taking place the end of April / beginning of May.

Update from Skills Development Scotland

As schools across Scotland are closed to the majority of pupils, Skills Development Scotland careers advisers will continue to provide careers information and advice by phone and digitally.

Our advisers will contact pupils who were scheduled to have a face-to-face appointment to make alternative arrangements.

Subject Choices

If your young person is choosing their subjects, their school careers adviser will be providing support over the coming weeks to help them think about their choices, including a one-to-one conversation. There’s also the opportunity for you – as a parent or carer – to join the conversation and discuss where their options might take them in the future. As current government guidelines don’t permit these conversations to take place in person, we’ll seek to make alternative arrangements by phone or video conference.

You’ll also find lots of helpful tools and information to help with subject choices, on the careers service website, My World of Work.

Please be aware that career information and advice is available online for anyone who needs it at My World of Work.  You can also contact your local centre to speak to an adviser or call the SDS helpline on 0800 917 8000.

Digital Access - all pupils

If any young person still requires a Chromebook to access remote learning please email sillingworth@knox.elcschool.org.uk . We also have 70 Vodafone data-only SIM cards, for distribution to pupils who do not have a reliable broadband connection, and who currently access learning through 4G on their phone. Any parent or carer who feels that their young person’s learning would benefit from one of these during the school closure should email admin@knox.elcschool.org.uk and we will post a card out to you.

In School Learning – all pupils

Parents/carers who are key workers are able to make an application to East Lothian Council by emailing seemis@eastlothian.gov.uk  to request a space in the in-school provision. Priority will be given to those key workers in category 1 and category 2 where both parent/carers are key workers or where there is a single parent who is a key worker. Information about the category definitions can be found here: Wherever possible, parents/carers should make use of informal young person care arrangements in line with the Scottish Government Guidance. As always, health and safety of our school community comes first. In order to ensure the risk of transmission remains low, there is a need to limit the number of pupils working in school with a focus on supporting those in the most need. When in school, all pupils will be working in defined ‘bubbles’ (including at break and lunchtimes), asked to ensure hand sanitising on entry exit to the building, encouraged to wear face coverings (S4-S6 must wear these as do staff supporting this provision) and asked to maintain physical distancing at all times.

COVID-19

Positive Cases: Please continue to report any positive cases to covidinschools@eastlothian.gov.uk .

Please note: If your young person is attending the in-school provision during this period, please do not send them to school if they, or anyone in your household has tested positive or has Covid-19 symptoms.  Please self-isolate and book a test.

Support for pupils

If you or your young person require any advice or support please contact their House Team in the first instance:

Ms Adam/Mrs Clubb (Garleton) garleton@knox.elcschool.org.uk;

Mr Meekison/Mr Russell (Lammerlaw) lammerlaw@knox.elcschool.org.uk;

Mrs Doig/Mr Illingworth (Traprain) traprain@knox.elcschool.org.uk 

Support for Parents/Carers – Parentline

I would like to take the opportunity to highlight Children’s 1st Parentline available to all East Lothian parents.  Parentline provides emotional, practical and financial advice and support to families.

Free School Meals

Families with young people who meet the eligibility criteria, and have registered for a free school meal, will receive a BACS payment to cover 11 to 29 January 2021.  Find out more about free school meals and clothing grants here.

Contacting School

A reminder that you can contact us at any stage of school closure by emailing admin@knox.elcschool.org.uk.

Dates for your diary:

Virtual Parent Council                   28 January 2021 (6.30-8pm)      

S2 Virtual Parents’ Evening         3 February 2021 (5-7pm)

February mid-term holiday         8 – 15 February (inclusive) for pupils

Please also remember to follow us at: www.ka-net.org.uk for the latest information and updates

Sue Cook