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Top marks for Banff Academy support

By Kyle Ritchie

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Banff Academy's head teacher has praised the work of pupils, staff and families in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

Since the school closed when the lockdown was imposed in March more than 1200 lessons have been delivered to young people through digital platforms.

There has also been more than 1800 phone calls made to families to offer them support.

Head teacher Alan Horberry said he had been "overwhelmed" by the commitment that has been made.

He said: "I am delighted and overwhelmed by the commitment staff have demonstrated over the past 11 weeks to ensure that our young people and families continue to be supported in learning.

"Since the Covid-19 lockdown it has been an extremely busy time for our school community and I am immensely proud of the way in which we have worked together to build sustainable support and maintain contact with our learners and families."

The change has seen teachers and pupils having to adapt and work through digital platforms.

The school also distributed learning packs to its younger students in S1-3 with more than 400 being sent out.

Learning squads have been established to support pupils' engagement, with 51 being formed.

The MCR Pathways programme has also assisted young people, with a particular focus on helping disadvantaged children.

Digital support was also prioritised through the @bxadigital helpline and technology kits were provided to pupils who needed them.

The school has strived to keep all involved updated through thousands of letters, e-mails and social media posts and videos.

Mr Horberry has also been providing online community broadcasts.

One of the significant achievements was design and technology staff making protective face visors for frontline workers in the community.

Principal teacher Caroline McFarlane, and colleagues Caitlin Paton and Roisin Steele created more than 1400 face masks using materials in the school and a laser cutter.

The school will recognise the achievements of the year during its virtual prize-giving ceremony, which will be broadcast online for senior pupils on July 1 at 7.30pm, with the event for S1-S3 the following evening.

The school's focus now shifts to work to prepare for the return to class in August.

Mr Horberry added: "As we move forward over the next few months we will continue to work together to plan and deliver new learning opportunities for our school community."

Aberdeenshire Council has begun work to support schools in the area to prepare for the return, which will progress over the summer.

Director of education and children’s services Laurence Findlay said: “It is clear that we will all have to continue to be flexible about learning arrangements for the foreseeable future.

"Safety must come first and we are doing everything we can to ensure children and young people can enjoy the best possible experience when they return to our schools in August.

"There are many issues we need to resolve over the weeks ahead, including school cleaning, hygiene, catering, staffing and transport, and our in-house expertise in learning estates planning has already given us a head start.

“We will also draw from lessons learned in our key worker childcare hubs."

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