Return to School FAQ

SMPC Return to school FAQ

Last update – 7:03pm, 11.08.20

South Morningside Parent Council has worked with the school to try to answer some of the questions parents and carers are asking most often about the return to school. We’ve made every effort to make sure the answers are clear, concise and accurate but thoughts on how they could be improved, particularly as circumstances change, are always welcome. We will try to update the FAQ as often as we can but of course we’re also working and caring for our own kids, as well as trying to do our bit as volunteers on the Parent Council.

STAYING SAFE AND WELL

How at risk are children from coronavirus and how likely are they to spread it?
There is some evidence that primary aged children may be less likely to catch the virus and it is certainly true that fewer than 1% of all confirmed coronavirus cases in Scotland have been amongst children under 15. Part of the reason for these very low numbers though is that children with coronavirus almost always have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, so they are much less likely to be tested. Even though over 2,000 people have sadly died of the virus in Scotland, there have been no deaths amongst those under 20. There is some evidence that children have a limited role in transmitting the virus – but the evidence is still developing.

What precautions will the school take to keep children safe?
The school has undertaken a series of detailed risk assessments developed by Edinburgh council and the Scottish Government, and will continue to monitor changes affecting these risk assessments. This process is part of the government guidance on reopening schools in a way that will keep pupils and staff safe. The school has been thoroughly cleaned and will be cleaned more often than uusual after it reopens. Everyone will be washing their hands much more regularly. Children will initially stay within their class groups. Classrooms will be well ventilated and pupils will have more time for outdoor learning.

What if my child or someone in our household develops coronavirus symptoms?
If anyone in your household displays any of the recognised symptoms, the whole household should immediately self-isolate and book coronavirus tests. The symptoms are:

  • new, continuous cough
  • fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater)
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste

Will staff or children be expected to wear masks?
Children and staff will not be expected to wear masks but can choose to do so. Personal protective equipment (PPE) will only be used where there is close contact between adults or between adults and children for more than 15 minutes. School staff may need to be near children to provide intimate care or where coronavirus is suspected and pupils require supervision while they are in isolation, awaiting collection by parents or carers.

Will children be required to physically distance from each other?
In line with advice from the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues, children will not be required to physically distance from their classmates but staff will stay 2m away from children and each other wherever possible. Particular care must be taken by parents and carers around school drop offs and pick-ups, where physical distancing between adults, and between adults and children from different families, must be observed. You can help create more space around schools by avoiding taking children to and from school by car wherever possible. If you must drive, please do not park anywhere near the school gates. Please follow the specific advice you have received regarding dropping off and collecting your children to minimise mixing between households, with the exception of mixing between children in the same class. Parents should not enter the school grounds unless they have been specifically asked to do so in the written instructions they have received from the school. Visits to the school will be by invitation only and you should contact the school by email or phone in the first instance.

Will children be in a ‘bubble’ with a limited number of children and staff?
Children will stay mostly in their class groups ‘bubbles’ and will be taught and supervised by the same small group of staff to minimise the risk of infection. This approach will also ensure any infections that do occur can be contained with a minimum of disruption to other pupils and their families. Passing other children briefly, even indoors such as in a corridor, is considered low risk based on scientific advice.

Must all children return to school?
All children should return to school, including those who have been shielding. If your child cannot return for any reason you should contact the school.

What extra cleaning arrangements will be in place at the school?
Normal daily cleaning will take place as well as increased disinfection of common touch points. Plans are being discussed to introduce an ongoing programme of electrostatic disinfection which is sometimes known as spraying, misting or fogging. The intention is for this to be undertaken each month to ensure the school environment remains virus free.

Will there be more outdoor play and learning to reduce the risk of transmission?
There will be a significant increase in the use of outdoor space in all but the very worst of weather. Care will be taken to limit the number of children in the same outdoor space from different classes, for example by staggering access to the playground, particularly at lunch and play times. The school will also be using local outdoor spaces which have been risk assessed.

What extra personal hygiene measures will be in place?
There will be regular handwashing by staff and pupils, and hand sanitisers will be widely available throughout the school. Pupils and staff will be required to wash their hands and/or use sanitiser on entering each classroom or shared space.

Should I wash all my child’s clothes every day after school?
Scottish Government advice is that this is not necessary and parents can continue to with their normal laundry arrangements. The school has suggested children come to school in ‘play clothes’ for the youngest children at Nursery and Deanbank, and joggers or shorts that can be easily washed for the upper stages.

What will the arrangements be for children and families that are shielding?
With the Scottish Government pausing the arrangements for everyone who has been shielding, any pupils who have been shielding or whose families have been shielding, will be able to return to school. Parents from shielding families should contact the school to discuss any additional steps that may be required to ensure their child returns to school safely. Normal arrangements for Health Care Plans are in place.

What happens if a child or staff member develops COVID symptoms while at school?
Please let your children know that if they begin to feel unwell while at school they should inform a member of staff immediately. A space has been identified within the school where anyone developing symptoms can isolate until they can leave safely. The key initial step when coronavirus is suspected is the self-isolation and rapid testing of all symptomatic children and staff. The school will then arrange for the appropriate level of additional cleaning, in line with Health Protection Scotland guidance. The contact tracing service will identify the close contacts of anyone testing positive and advise them and their households to self-isolate while they are tested. Other children, their families and staff members at the school will not be required to self-isolate. If the school has two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 within 14 days, or an increase in background rate of absence due to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, they may have an outbreak. In this situation the school will work closely with the local health protection team and local authority to take the necessary steps and decisions to keep everyone safe. A detailed risk assessment for infection control has been conducted and shared with all staff.

Will the impact of reopening schools on the prevalence of coronavirus be monitored?
In addition to Test and Protect – Scotland’s test, trace, isolate, support strategy – a surveillance programme is being developed for schools, where regular testing and survey data will identify symptoms and infections in the school population. This will allow regular reporting on incidences of infection and inform the ongoing development of guidance for schools.

Mental health and wellbeing
Scottish Government advice is that the wellbeing of all children, young people and staff should be the central focus when preparing for the reopening of schools at a local level. Edinburgh’s mental health and wellbeing resources are sector leading, there will be a briefing to senior education leaders and headteachers on the support available before schools return. There will be strong emphasis during the early weeks of the return to school on wellbeing because until all children feel safe and happy, effective learning cannot take place.

Why is the school discouraging children from cycling or scooting to school?
Unfortunately the school has had to ask that children not travel to school by bike or scooter for now, if these would need to be left at school. This is, firstly, to reduce overcrowding at school gates and on pavements near the school entrances, and, secondly, because enclosed bike shed and metal racks would be used by children from different classes, meaning they could become an infection risk. This will be kept under review as the reopening progresses.

LOGISTICAL ARRANGEMENTS

Why aren’t children allowed to bring bags, pencil cases, books and other items from home?
To create space and make regular cleaning easier, classrooms need to be kept as clutter free as possible. These measures are initially for the first few weeks and will then be reviewed. Each class teacher will discuss with their class how personal items will be managed. Due to the curriculum we are following over the first few days especially, there is little need for any equipment to be brought to school initially.  During the first few days back, water bottles can be carried to school and used in the classroom.

Isn’t there a risk of bottlenecks at school gates?
There is a risk of bottlenecks around the school gates and we would ask parents to follow the year, house and site specific guidelines that the school has sent to all families. If you have been asked to drop your children at the school gates then please do not loiter at the gates and in particular do not stop to talk with adults or children from other households. Think about whether older children are ready to get to and from school unaccompanied, or if you could drop them and collect them at an agreed point near the school. You can also help create more space around the school by avoiding taking children to and from school by car wherever possible. If you must drive, please do not park anywhere near the school gates. The Parent Council has supported a proposal by the council’s Spaces for People programme to close Canaan Lane to motor traffic and this change is likely to take effect within a few weeks of the start of term.

Would there not be more room for distancing if parents could drop off to the playground?
Although there is more space inside the school grounds, Edinburgh council has decided that allowing more parents and carers into these spaces would greatly increase the risk of prolonged face to face mixing between households.

What are the arrangements for dropping off and collecting children from school?
These vary by site, by school year and by house – please refer to the email you have received from school. If you are dropping children at the school gate please do not stop at the gate, particularly to talk to other adults. Please do not park at the school gate when dropping off but on nearby streets and walk the remaining distance

In the original letter from the school it says pupils will ‘Attend full day’ on Friday – what exactly does this mean?
On Fridays all children at Comiston Road and Deanbank will attend school in the morning only.  They should be dropped off at the times set out in the original email sent to all parents/carers and new letters regarding the collection times on Friday have now been issued.   Collection times are staggered to enable one parent or carer to collect children from both sites.

Is there a timeline for future changes including drop offs/pick up?
Arrangements will be reviewed after the first full week back at school but any changes will involve decisions by both Scottish Government and Edinburgh council. At present, changes to the staggered drop off and collection process seem more likely than a decision to allow parents back into school playgrounds.

What should my children wear to school?
Please send your children to school in clothes suitable for outdoor play but wearing school shoes and a school sweatshirt. Children should also bring in a plastic bag on the first day with footwear suitable for outdoor play such as walking shoes/boots or wellingtons and a pair of gym plimsolls or shoes.

How can we bring in gym and outdoors shoes without a school bag?
Please bring them in a plastic bag on your first day. These shoes will need to be left at school and spaces have been made available in classrooms for storage.

Do children need to bring in their PE kit?
This is not necessary as the guidelines around clothing and footwear will ensure children are dressed appropriately for indoor and outdoor activities. All PE lessons for the foreseeable future will take place outdoors.

There is a special time for P7s to arrive but what if this doesn’t match the drop off times for any siblings?
P7s can also arrive at school at the same time as their siblings, who will be in the same house group for arrival times.

What if I need to come into the school?
Please contact the school office who will try to deal with things remotely if possible but will arrange an in person appointment if necessary. The school office is not open for visitors or receiving any items during the school day.

How can parents whose children require medication arrange for this to reach the school along with any paperwork that is still required?
Please send your child in to school with all their medication in a sealed bag. Mrs Hughes and Mrs Kuryluk will check all bags and medication and either call or send home to parent’s appropriate health care forms. It is important that all back up medication is held in school as soon as possible, in order to enable outdoor learning to commence. If you require a new Health Plan please inform the school via email and or phone call.

What arrangements will be made for children who need a laptop for written work or other equipment to support their additional needs? Should this be brought from home or supplied by school?
The school will ensure that children with additional needs continue to receive the support they require, including any additional equipment they need. Digital equipment distributed during lockdown will be recalled for in school use.

Will children who receive additional support from specialist staff at the school continue to receive this support?
The school will prioritise ensuring that children with additional needs continue to receive the support they require, subject to necessary measures to limit the risk of spreading the virus. Initially the focus will be on health and wellbeing and appropriate measures to address learning needs will be communicated with parents once diagnostic and formative assessments have had suitable time to be carried out.

When will parents be informed about arrangements regarding the reopening of the nursery?
The Deanbank and Comiston Road school sites were only opened to staff on Monday 10 August. As yet the necessary arrangements, risk assessments and cleaning has not taken part at Fairmile Church Halls. Parents have been advised when their child and new starts will be re-enrolled into the Nursery Classes. There is no Nursery in the week beginning 10 August but it is hoped that staff will gain access to the site by Wednesday 12 August to begin preparations for reopening.

Why was the final decision that children would not require a full school uniform communicated long after most parents had already purchased new uniforms?
Children can wear school uniform if they wish but the school have advised that a large part of each day will be spent outdoors and traditional uniform will be less suitable for some of the planned activities. Up until the final days of last term, there was no expectation that the school would return fully in August. Following subsequent guidance from Scottish Government, including the decision on 30 July that schools would return full time, the school has had to adapt how it plans to deliver the curriculum, greatly increasing the use of outdoor learning, and issuing advice on the most suitable clothing for children to wear.

The letter to parents refers to ‘wet weather’ lunch arrangements – what does this involve?
Wet weather arrangements is what the children refer to, and understand, as a day when the playground is not in use. As part of these measures children will eat a packed lunch and have some scheduled time outside in the playground in a designated area. This will allow the supervision of children both within and outside the school by pupil support staff yet maintaining class and year group bubbles.

Should I send my child with a packed lunch or can lunches be ordered?
If you have ordered a lunch for this week your child will receive a packed lunch to their class, all other children should bring a packed lunch to school.  Lunch orders are now open to book but as always this must be done well in advance.  For the moment all school lunches will be packed lunches.

Might blended or remote learning be needed if coronavirus cases start to rise in the community or if there is an outbreak at school?
The return to school has been arranged in such a way as to minimise the risk of the virus spreading within the school. This will help minimise the risk of an outbreak that would require the school to close again. Contingency plans are in place to introduce blended learning or even full remote learning if the prevalence of the virus within the school or the wider community requires it.

ACADEMIC ISSUES

What are the learning priorities in the first days and weeks back at school?
The first priority will be to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all the children, as well as staff and the wider school community. There will be far more outdoor play and learning than usual, both to support children’s wellbeing and also to help manage the risk of infection. The wellbeing of our children is important not only in its own right but also an essential prerequisite to any effective academic work taking place. There will be a series of mostly informal assessments to understand what children have retained, what they have learnt at home and where any gaps may have opened up. All these assessments will be conducted in a way that minimises stress for children, including those who may have struggled with home learning. When more formal teaching resumes, there will be an emphasis on literacy and numeracy in the first instance.

How will the school make sure children who have fallen behind are identified and supported?
Following lockdown, children may have developed gaps in their development in wellbeing, literacy and numeracy. Teachers will look to establish a baseline of where individual learners are and will work with the information shared by the pupil’s previous teacher. The school will be putting in place interventions to provide suitable challenge and support, as required, across extended bubbles or year groups.

SMASCC AND CLUBS

When will we know when SMASCC will restart?
SMASCC are hoping to reopen on Monday 17 August but this is subject to final agreement on arrangements with the school. Parents using the club will be updated by SMASCC as soon as there is any news.

When will SMPC and Active School Clubs restart?
There is no date yet agreed for the reopening of either SMPC or council run clubs but discussions are ongoing.

NEW SCHOOL AND THE DEANBANK SITE

What is happening with the council’s proposal to shut Canaan lane to motor traffic?
Under its spaces for people programme, the Council has proposed to close Canaan Lane to all traffic except for residents. The South Morningside Parent Council has supported this proposal and also asked the council to consider whether pavements on Comiston Road around the school could be widened on a temporary basis. The deadline for comments on the spaces for people proposals was 12 August and it is likely to be several weeks before the proposed changes are finalised and implemented.

Will the building works for the new school at the Deanbank site be completed on time?
The council are still hopeful the building of the new school will be complete for August 2021 and are awaiting final details of the revised schedule from the contractor. Refurbishment of the existing Deanbank building will not however be completed by August 2021 so this will require management within the affected school communities.

Suggestions for additions, updates or corrections to the FAQ?

Email us

May 2020 FAQ

Frequently Asked Question

South Morningside Parent Council has worked with the school to try to answer some of the questions parents and carers are asking most often while the school is closed. We’ve made every effort to make sure the answers are clear, concise and accurate but thoughts on how they could be improved, particularly as circumstances change, are always welcome. We will try to update the FAQ as often as we can but of course we’re also working and caring for our own kids, as well as trying to do our bit as volunteers on the Parent Council.

Planning your home learning

Do we really have to do all the assigned work?
The Scottish government has made it clear that parents and carers are not expected to be teachers, nor to home educate in the formal sense. The needs and circumstances of families will vary considerably depending on their child’s specific needs, their household circumstances, and their knowledge and confidence.
The school is seeking to provide materials and activities that would allow parents and carers to support children to cover the same core learning that they would at school but it is clear that not all parents, carers and children will be in a position to complete all this work. Your children’s well-being comes first.

How much work should we do each day? What kind of timetable should we follow?
Try to set up a regular timetable that works for you and your children. Make sure you build in time for snacks, breaks and physical activity as well as more formal learning. Even if a parent or carer is available all day, it won’t necessarily be practical or necessary to expect children be work from 9.00 – 3.25pm every day. Government guidance suggests 3-4 hours a day or 15 hours over a week.

Other than what the school provides, what other support is available?

How can we help ensure our children’s mental health and well-being?
The school has shared some advice about supporting children who are anxious about coronavirus. For many children though the hardest thing will not be fear of the disease itself but the disruption of their routines and particularly the inability to see friends and extended family.

While we are physically distancing, social closeness remains more important than ever and many of us are staying in touch with online chats, video calls or by telephone. For P5-7 children there is a chat function on Teams that will allow them to stay in touch with their classmates. The school will also seek to speak with specific children before the school holidays where it is important for different reasons to do so.

Where can I find the learning for my child’s class or year?
Nursery & P1-2 children’s work will be updated via your Learning Journal.
P3-4 children work will be updated by class on the school website
P5-7 children work will be updated by class on the school website as above but also on your child’s Teams account.

When will these be updated?
All classes/years will be updated on Friday for the week ahead. Resources will not be updated on public holidays or inset days when the school would normally be closed.

How can I share progress with teachers?
This is possible via Teams and the Learning Journal, and your teachers will respond to the work you share when they can. P3-4s are being asked to share updates, work or related photos with their teachers by email. P7s teachers are trialling the use of the assignments function on Teams.

Are there not better ways that we could manage online learning?
The school had to move very quickly to put in place the best systems it could to support remote learning based on existing capacities. There are undoubtedly many things that could and should be improved but there are also many other demands on teachers and support staff, just as there are on parents and carers. Different schools all entered this crisis with slightly different capacities to support remote learning based, for example, on whether their teams included specialist digital support staff and how widely they had already rolled out digital learning platforms such as Teams and Learning Journals. Most schools continue to use a mix of these platforms, plus some others, and their websites, to support remote learning. Where schools had strong pre-existing capacities, they have been able to adapt very quickly in some cases and there may be things we can learn from them. The school cannot though simply replicate what other schools may be doing overnight where this is based on different pre-existing capacities or where the school has made decisions based on the age appropriateness of materials and learning platforms.

What are teachers doing now?
Many teachers are supporting and caring for their own children. Some are working in the hubs set up to teach the children of essential workers. A lot of time is spent supporting parents and children who are having issues and responding to their questions and suggestions. They are also of course preparing and posting the learning materials on the different platforms we are using. The school leadership team is also preparing to contact as many children as possible before the holidays and is particularly concerned to reach families with whom they have had no contact to date. Teachers are also learning about and experimenting with new tools and ways of connecting with students, for example Mrs Richardson and Mrs Moore have created the school’s first video assemblies. This all means that time to make improvements to our remote learning systems or for individual contact with children is tight.

Couldn’t teachers run video classes?
The school has now provided some training and support to teachers to help them make their online learning materials more engaging, for example by creating PowerPoint presentations with accompanying voice overs. These approaches are likely to be used particularly where a new topic or concept is being introduced.
There are significant concerns from some teachers and the EIS teaching union about live streaming video lessons from teacher’s homes. Where other schools have run such classes, attendance has sometimes been poor and there is a very real risk that basing learning around online video conferencing could further exclude children with more limited access to the internet. These children already risk suffering disproportionately as a result of the school closure and preventing a widening of the educational attainment gap is one of the school’s primary concerns at this time.

Digital learning, communities and platforms

Why are P3-4s not on Teams/OneNote?
Well before the coronavirus outbreak, South Morningside Primary School was an early adopter of OneNote as a way of supporting home learning. After evaluating the suitability of the platform for different age groups, the school took the decision that it was most suitable for P5-7 children. This was because it is a powerful but relatively complex platform. There were concerns not just about its appropriateness for younger children, but also about the levels of support that many children, and indeed parents, would need to use it effectively. Teams was rolled out across Edinburgh Schools by the Council more recently and South Morningside took the view that it was also best suited to P5-7 children. Some schools, particularly where they had in house support from specialist staff, took a different view and are of course benefiting from this now that all learning is taking place remotely. Rolling out Teams to P3-4 children would be a huge undertaking at the best of times, and there are specific challenges at present, including the need for support from council staff to create new logins for a large number of children. The school still has longer-term concerns about whether these platforms are the best way to support home learning by P3-4 students in the future and it is worth noting that many parents and children who have access to Teams still prefer to use the website for at least some of the time. In addition to the website, P3-4 children and their families can now contact their teachers by email and we are exploring using a private area of the school website to allow us to share more content with P3-4s including videos.

Who do I talk to if I am having trouble logging into Teams?
Please email the school admin@southmorningside.edin.sch.uk

How do I find and use the different features on Teams and OneNote?
Teams is quite a complex system with links to OneNote and other parts of the Microsoft 365 suite of tools. You will need to spend time exploring it and playing with it to get familiar with how it works and all the different tabs and features. I’m afraid you can’t expect to sit down and start learning straight away the first time you start the programme up and you may find there are some things that you can do more easily on the school website.
Finding your home learning resources on Teams

  • On the left-hand side of the screen is a tab called ‘Teams’ and if you click on this it will display all the subjects that are relevant for your child’s level.
  • Within the subject you have clicked on, on the left, you can then click on your child’s year.
  • Now Teams will display a series of ‘Posts’ from year teachers on the subject you are in – these posts will usually tell you about and link to new resources – if you look at the top of the window you can switch from ‘Posts’ to ‘Files’ where you will see just the attachments with the resources.
  • Click on a resource in Posts or Files to preview it, click on the three dots at the top right of this window for the option to download the resource and open it outside of Teams – which may make it easier to read.
  • To go back to the subject menu you can hit back on your browser or the ‘ < All teams ‘ text towards the top left of the Teams window you are in.
    Class chat function
  • On the page listing the Teams your child is part of there will also be a team with the name of their class – click on this to access the chat ‘channels’ set up by your teacher
  • Channels are listed on the left of this new window – click into each one to see what’s there.
  • At least one of the channels will include a place where children can leave messages for the class, not just the teacher

Sharing your learning with your teacher on OneNote

  • Although OneNote and Teams are link it is probably easier to access them separately
  • Once you open OneNote there are a series of resources including topics and activities that pre-date the current school closure
  • On the left hand side of the window, click on the tab with your child’s name
  • This will open another set of tabs that again include current and older material
  • Different teachers my use different tabs but at the bottom you will find one labelled ‘My Home Learning’ and when you click on this it should open another sub-menu on the left with page headers you can click on to open each page
  • When you have page open, you can add to a page by clicking the ‘Edit in Browser’ option at the top of the window with the pen icon.
  • Once you have clicked ‘Edit in Browser’ you can either type messages or use the Microsoft Word style editing options to create your own headings, insert photos/files/links or draw.
  • Leave details here of the home learning you are doing for your teacher and you may receive some feedback or encouragement.

Why are we using Teams/One Note given the issues it causes?
Teams, OneNote and the wider Microsoft 365 suite of programmes were selected and are being supported by Edinburgh Council. They are relatively complex, particularly for younger children, but also very powerful. Not every P5-7 child or family has to use every part of the system to benefit from it. The school will continue to provide as much support as it can to those children, parents and carers who need it, but teachers and support staff also have different levels of confidence in their use of the platform. Some P5-7 children and their parents and carers do still rely on the school website as well as or instead of Teams.

Couldn’t you use Groupcall/ Xpressions to just email the require work to each class/year?
Neither the system itself, nor the school admin team, have the capacity to make this a viable alternative at present.

How can we feedback to school with ideas and concerns?
They school is preparing a survey about the experience parents and carers are having with home learning. If you have further questions or corrections you think should be made to this FAQ you can email communications@sm-pc.org. For questions or suggestions for the school you can email admin@southmorningside.edin.sch.uk but please be aware the school is dealing with a very high volume of questions and suggestions at present. Do contact the school if you need help but please be aware that time spent responding to questions and suggestions is time they cannot spend supporting current learning, or planning and delivering improvements.

Returning to School

When will school reopen?
We don’t know when the school will reopen but Scottish Government ministers have indicated that it isn’t likely to be before the new school year in August 2020. When school does restart, we should not assume that all children will return at the same time and resume classes as normal. Indications of when schools in Scotland may begin to reopen will probably come first from the Scottish Government but specific arrangements will then need to follow in updates from Edinburgh Council and South Morningside Primary School. There will almost inevitably be some delay between the announcement and the release of specific details of how any changes will be implemented. Please also remember that because education is a devolved matter, UK government announcements regarding the reopening of schools have no direct impact on the situation in Scotland.
How can schools reopen while maintaining physical distancing to keep everyone safe?
No decisions have been made about how schools will reopen but it is quite possible there may be some changes to how many children can attend school and classes at the same time.
Will P7s be the first to return?
The Scottish Government has indicated in its updated framework for decision making that any return to school is likely to be phased and schools will not be open as normal for the foreseeable future. So far there is no timescale given for any return to school beyond saying it is unlikely to be until the new school year in August. The Scottish Government has also said that priority will be given to vulnerable pupils and those facing major transitions, such as P7 pupils.

In terms of what a phased return might look like it is perhaps worth quoting directly from the framework (Section 4, final para): “To enable ongoing physical distancing, most pupils are likely to have a blend of in-school and in-home learning. This would include attending school part-time in blocks of a few days or even a week at a time, to enable deep cleaning of schools between groups. Learning at home will be supported by consistent, high-quality online materials which will be developed to support the curriculum.”
Will the new school on Canaan Lane still be able to open in August 2021 as planned?
All work on the Canaan Lane site has currently been paused and it is not clear when they will recommence. The Scottish Government has suggested that some outdoor work and activity may recommence before indoor work and activity but is not clear how this will relate to construction work, where maintaining physical distancing during many activities may be challenging.

There was at least three months between the expected completion of building works on the new school and opening date but it is not currently clear if this will be a sufficient cushion. Neither the school nor the parent council has received any updates at this time regarding when works will recommence or what contingency planning, if any, is being done against the possibility that the new school will not be able to open as planned for the 2021/22 academic year.

Can we keep same teachers next year for continuity?
Unfortunately it won’t be possible for mostcmost to keep the same teachers as over a quarter of teachers tend to move on from the school each year, and keeping all the remaining teachers with their existing classes would make reorganising classes and schedules extremely difficult. Most children will however stay with the same classmates.

How will P7s be supported in their transition to Secondary school
The school is in discussions with Boroughmuir High School and looking at how this could be achieved. The school is still planning a proper send off for P7s whenever school resumes, including the grand march down the stairwell and the ringing of the old school bell.

 

Suggestions for additions, updates or corrections to the FAQ?

Email us

June Update

The last Parent Council meeting of the academic year saw quite a large turn out, probably thanks to the recent clubs announcement!  The estimated profit from last weekend’s Summer Fair is £6,600-7,000!A massive thank you to all who helped and all of you that braved the pouring rain to come and support the school!

 Accommodation
The big news is that the main school is receiving £450,000 for many building improvements, in particular refurbishment of the windows, a new heating system and an electrical rewire. This is fantastic news for staff and children alike!

 Clubs
So the burning question… what’s happening with our clubs?! Well our clubs admin team (parent volunteers) came along and filled us in. They, along with Mrs Morgan, have been working exceptionally hard on this for some time and are working through several scenarios to sort this out. The main issues are:Due to refurbishment the school at Comiston Road will be closed every evening from 3.25 pm for the entirety of next school year. Note: after school and breakfast clubs are NOT affected.After next year the council intend to charge for clubs use in the school. Helpfully, councillor Mandy Watt was present and she is keen to meet with clubs admin to understand the issues and hopefully secure non-commercial rates.If alternative accommodation is found for next year, this raises insurance issues and complications with moving kids from after-school club to the new venue. Paying for room lets, insurance, minders to transport kids all costs money. Hopefully these charges will be shared across the clubs and not be too financially onerous but it will likely mean a reduction in revenue from the clubs to the PC.It really is incredibly complex but thankfully we have some dedicated, hard working, amazing parents on it. They could always do with more parents to help out though, so please do get in touch (clubs@sm-pc.org) if you’d like to get involved. 

Playground
This year the playground works at the main school have finally been completed which is an amazing achievement but it has left our funds depleted. Basically every year the PC commits to many recurring spends (around £14,000) and our current funds for next year cover this with only a very small surplus, so we really need a big push on fundraising. The school and PC would like a multi-use games area (MUGA) for the main school playground – this is not cheap so it’s something we’d really like to focus our fundraising efforts on! 

Fundraising
Speaking of which… most of our fundraising team are retiring having raised a staggering amount (over £100k!) through fairs over the last few years! We need some new, amazing people to get involved and start a new fundraising movement! Our school community needs it so please, if you have fundraising ideas or you want to help with organising and promoting events, please email fundraising@sm-pc.org! We’d love to hear from you, it will make such a difference! 

Comms
Keep an eye on our website as we are hoping to update it over the next couple of months and make it more relevant. If you are a whizz with WordPress, Google Docs or email and you want to volunteer a bit if time for our very friendly Comms group, please get in touch (comms@sm-pc.org). 

New roles!
Lastly a few role changes. Our wonderful chair Brian Sharp is stepping down and we have Olly Headey and Brendan Paddy taking on co-chair roles. Chris Hebden has managed to pass the treasurer baton to Jill Dallas, and Fiona Kippax signs off from fundraising. THANK YOU all so much!   

AGM
Our AGM will be taking place on September 2nd at 6:45pm, at Deanbank. It’s an important event and we encourage as many parents to come along as possible, to hear about the brilliant things our parent volunteers do and how you can help! Please put the date in your diary. Have a wonderful summer everyone! 

April Update

IT refresh

There have been 20 new laptops purchased for pupils to use and an upgrade to windows 10 for the teachers.

Building work

Currently the main school is having some ceilings strengthened as part of a £450,000 building refresh by Edinburgh council.

Playground works

Playground hedges will be put in shortly along the Comiston Road boundary, paid for by parent council fundraising, and our next funding goal is to raise money for a multi-use games area (MUGA) for the playground.

Deanbank building works

Safety concerns raised regarding the building of the new school have been passed on to Edinburgh council and we are hoping for a more formal response soon.

Transport survey

Following the transport survey we are hoping to start walking buses next year.

Grants
Funding was approved for ski club kit, buses to theatre productions and more!

March update

Funding

We approved additional funding for Nursery, P1s and P2s at Deanbank. We also approved an additional £10,000 to complete Phase 1 of the playground improvements at Comiston Rd (exciting!). Once these works are complete, we will be consulting the parent body again on plans for Phase 2 (including sports facilities) – also VERY exciting!. Watch this space!

Deanbank works

Concerns were raised about provision for health and safety at the demolition site for the new school – mainly access and noise levels. There may be more to follow on this.

PVG checks

We discussed some of the teething problems and solutions with securing PVG status for all adults involved in our school’s clubs – a mammoth task. All in all, a very productive meeting!