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Praise for Aberdeenshire staff's outstanding commitment to home learning

By David Porter

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Aberdeenshire Council’s education leaders are keen to offer thanks to staff as well as families as many more success stories emerge highlighting ongoing commitment to home learning.

New Machar School has shared how it has adapted to digital teaching.
New Machar School has shared how it has adapted to digital teaching.

Education and Children’s Services Committee chairwoman councillor Gillian Owen said: “We know it’s not an easy time for anyone at the moment but it is heartening to see and hear about so many examples of best practice appearing on schools’ social media channels as well as through direct discussion.

“Teachers and practitioners as well as children and young people, and parents, are demonstrating an absolutely outstanding commitment to home learning. It all looks so fun and engaging – keep up the excellent work, folks!”

New Machar School has shared a video explaining their digital learning journey: http://bit.ly/NewmacharHL21

The school is enjoying 100 per cent digital inclusion among pupils and has demonstrated best practice in terms of finding new and innovative means to engage with families.

In addition to offering weekly bedtime stories and assemblies, the school leadership team is involved in regular check-ins with families, and many support groups are run by the wider staff team. Their ‘whole school live’ events have inspired everything from shortbread making to marble runs and they have seen more than 125,000 pieces of work submitted online by pupils.

Head Teacher Brian Carle explained: “Our team has made the most of Northern Alliance, Education Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council resources and we’ve adapted our delivery model over time to ensure it best supports the needs of our local community.

"Our school values are: Achieve, Include, and Motivate – ideals we really believe in and are constantly coming up with new ideas to support. I’m so proud of my team as well as all of our children and families. #BeYourBestSelf!”.

Over at Westhill Academy and parents and carers as well as young people have responded particularly positively to recent surveys.

98 per cent of parents and carers agreed school communications regarding home learning have been helpful, 79 per cent agreed the amount of work allocated to their child had been about right (with an even split among the rest highlighting this was too much or too little) and 99 per centsaid they had regular contact with at least some of their teachers and regular feedback too.

Parents comments highlighted how impressed they are with how well staff and pupils are adjusting, with many notes of thanks to staff and in particular the great response of guidance teams and support staff when needed.

Responses of young people appear to mirror parents’ feedback, with only 7 per cent highlighting difficulties with following instructions online and all indicating a variety of different ways teachers were keeping in contact, including live lessons, Q&A sessions, drop-in chats, video messages, audio voiceovers, Microsoft Teams and emails.

Again, many used the opportunity to offer thanks for “a really good job at teaching” with some highlighting how much they are enjoying a more flexible timetable while others indicated how much they were missing friends and teachers.

Head Teacher Alison Reid said: “Feedback from young people as well as parents and carers is very important to us.

"We know there is no one-size-fits-all and we are doing our absolute best to engage our school community in a variety of learning activities, offer tailored support and make the best of the challenges we face together. I am so proud of the additional skills my staff and pupils have acquired – absolutely brilliant, folks!”

Vice chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee, councillor Rosemary Bruce added: “Well done to all our teams out there as well as children and young people and parents and carers.

2We know it’s hard work and we can also completely relate to the ups and downs many children and young people as well as adults are experiencing in their mental health.

"We want you to know it’s ok not to be ok and there are support mechanisms in place – please reach out for help when you need it.”

For Aberdeenshire Council’s online learning support website: https://sites.google.com/as.glow.scot/digitaladviceparents/home

A helpline continues to run Tuesday to Thursday from 9am to 3pm if you would like to talk through any education or wellbeing concerns about a child or young person.

Call 01779 403721.

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