West Lothian schools learn remote lessons

Lessons have been learned in the near year-long lockdown about how schools and pupils can adapt to the digital learning experience.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 1:00 pm
Updated Friday, 12th March 2021, 3:15 pm
An additional funding package of nearly £4 million was delivered in West Lothian. Photo by Scott Louden.

From the start of the first lockdown to the latest weeks of this current one, there have been big strides in what has been a journey without maps for teachers and pupils.

Evidence from surveys shows what worked and what could be improved, but the overall picture shows the county to have been one of the best performers in Scotland as it tried to provide education during the pandemic.

An additional funding package of nearly £4 million was delivered in West Lothian.

The council’s Education Quality Assurance Committee recently heard details of the work of the Quality Improvement Team (QIT) to help schools deliver remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

To ensure teaching staff could support their pupils, QIT engage with school leaders to build capacity for self-evaluation and deliver improvement in key areas, such as: leadership and management; learning provision; and success and achievements.

The council’s approved revenue budget for 2021/22 includes an additional £3.7m to support education recovery resulting from the impact of the current pandemic.

This includes over £1m for additional staffing for schools to help children recover any lost ground during the initial lockdown period, with spending plans for a further £2.7m currently being developed to target supporting education recovery over the coming months.

Commenting on remote learning, executive councillor for education David Dodds said: “There’s no doubt the remote learning has been successful in West Lothian, ensuring pupils could continue learning despite most being unable to attend school.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of our pupils, and the amazing support they receive from parents/carers and teaching staff.

“We have helped our teaching staff with this unfamiliar role through our school leaders and our QIT, who have a vital role to play in ensuring all our schools can deliver improvements and interventions to provide the valuable service that our young people deserve.”

During the initial school closure period from March to June, the Quality Improvement Team continued to provide the following key activities and deliver positive outcomes through engagement with school leaders and directly with teaching staff through virtual platforms.

This included: developing Curriculum Recovery Maps for Health and Wellbeing (HWB), Literacy and Numeracy to guide and support schools in these key areas of the curriculum; provided resources and training to embed a reading and writing culture across schools and listening and talking skills across the curriculum; and provided parent/carer information and support materials with a focus on wellbeing and supporting learning at home.

The QIT continued to support schools when they re-opened in August 2020 in a range of ways,before switching focus once more to remote learning from January 2021 onwards.

This has included: produced remote learning guidance to support schools; developed school learner engagement guidance, providing clear standards on how to support all learners to reach their full potential; and regularly meetings with parent forums such as West Lothian Parent Forum and Parent Councils to receive feedback on what’s working well and what could be further improved.