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Remote learning in Highland Council schools during coronavirus lockdown 'could change education in the future'


By Hector MacKenzie

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Tania Mackie.
Tania Mackie.

SCHOOL pupils across the Highland Council have been benefitting from an innovative approach to teaching and learning which has made the transition to home learning smoother for all, it has been claimed.

Highland Council was one of the first local authorities in Scotland to develop a schools digital learning hub, which provides a resource for staff, parents and pupils to support home learning.

The coronavirus outbreak has led to school closures since March, forcing Highland pupils to learn remotely during lockdown.

A daily programme of professional learning for all staff is in place and there has been an increasing engagement with G-Suite for Education as a platform.

G-Suite is a free collection of productivity tools offered by technology company Google. It includes Google Docs, Gmail, Google Classroom, Google Meet and Hangouts.

Members of the education improvement team leading on this innovation include Tania Mackie, head teacher at Ben Wyvis Primary and Milton of Leys Primaryhead, Robert Quigley.

We’re seeing this as an interim solution but equally one which could change education in the future.

Both have featured in the Highland Council’s new video which shines a spotlight on the work being done to ensure children continue to receive a quality education experience during lockdown.

Tania Mackie said:“Communication has been key. One of the ways we are supporting staff across Highland is through networks. These networks are formed using Google Classroom, we are connecting teaching together by using ICT platforms to collaborate and share good practice across all key stages and subject areas.

“We’re seeing this as an interim solution but equally one which could change education in the future. For some time now we have been discussing and planning networks of principal teachers, depute heads, head teachers, sharing of resource and now we are actually seeing this happen.”

The Highland Digital Schools Hub was a way for pupils, parents and staff to be able to engage in a variety of different resources and learner experiences to help them through this period of home learning.

A number of different resources, at each different Curriculum for Excellence level and subject specific level, have been added to the hub.

Head of education Nicky Grant said: “The manner and means in which the resources have been produced and shared across all 204 of our Highland schools has been incredible. Our priority at this time in line with Government expectations is first and foremost the well-being of our pupils, staff and community as well as delivering quality learning and teaching in both numeracy and literacy.

“I am extremely grateful for the support of the central team and our staff and parental community in grasping the digital landscape for today and for the future of our young people.”

What is happening across Highland schools is I know, viewed favourably at national level and I would like to thank all staff for their hard work and input whichis appreciated by both pupils and parents.

Chairman of the education committee, Cllr John Finlayson, said: “I have been very impressed by how the staff in schools both teaching and non-teaching, with support from the central team, have moved digital learning forward including not only upskilling pupils but also themselves.

"What is happening across Highland schools is I know, viewed favourably at national level and I would like to thank all staff for their hard work and input whichis appreciated by both pupils and parents.”

A short video has been created to highlight some of the work going on across Highland – Learning During Lockdown.

High Life Highland has also been uploading resources to the Highland Digital Schools Hub, including fitness videos for young people, to help them keep physically fit during lockdown.

Steve Walsh, chief executive of High Life Highland, said: “It is great to see the hard work put in by our fitness instructors mirroring that of our music instructors in helping our partners Highland Council to lead the way with technology and innovation to provide classes online for pupils to help them keep physically fit during lockdown.”

How are YOU and your children been finding the experience of learning remotely during the coronavirus lockdown? Share your views by emailing hector.mackenzie@hnmedia.co.uk


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