West Lothian digital learning to be scrutinised

The successes, and failings, of digital learning will be put before West Lothian’s councillors at a special meeting.

Home learning stock photo, by Scott Louden.

The council’s Education Quality Assurance Committee will look at the remote and online learning experience of a high school and a primary school at its next  meeting planned for early March.

The committee, which is made up of councillors from across the chamber as well as parents and community  representatives, usually hears from school heads following HMI and other inspections. It gives headteachers a chance to highlight the work being done in their schools.

Schools inspections have been on hold since the first lockdown.

The committee plans to look at the digital learning experience of the initial lockdown and subsequent developments following the latest lockdown at the start of the month. They will look at the digital learning experience of pupils at Southdale Primary and West Calder High School.

West Lothian Council started the new term having delivered 3,000 tablets and digital notebooks to pupils who needed them as well as providing broadband advice and connection if needed.

A council spokesman said: ”Over 3,000 devices have been handed out over the past few weeks.  The message from schools has been that everyone who has asked for online help, has had help in terms of broadband or a device.

“Breakfast clubs, transport and school meals are also still in place for those that need it, albeit some obvious changes in terms of delivery, but nothing has stopped.”

However, there were reports of connection problems for some pupils in schools across the county as the new term started with only the children of key workers returning to schools.

Councillor Stuart Borrowman, chair of the committee said: “The risk of learning loss among school pupils during the Covid emergency is a significant cause of concern.”

He added: “I’m pleased that EQAC is to focus on this at its next meeting with two exemplar schools leading the discussion.

“Worries focus on a whole generation of pupils missing out on important parts of their development and on whether some pupils aren’t engaging as well with remote learning.

“Schools are working very hard to minimise learning loss and finding innovative ways to include youngsters.

“How we make good the impact of the emergency on school students is one of the most important challenges facing society.”