Life @ EA

Rector's Blog

Letter from the Rector

22 May 2020

Dear members of the Edinburgh Academy community,

As we head into Half Term, which starts later today, I am delighted that we finally have some positive news regarding education in Scotland post lockdown and school closure. It was wonderful to hear the announcements from the First Minister yesterday about the ways in which Scotland will begin to transition away from lockdown through four clear phases, starting on Thursday 28th May. If you were like me, you were waiting for the detail on school opening and when this would be allowed. Now it is clear that this will happen in Phase 3, beginning, if all goes well in the weeks before then, from the 11th August. Further details of this process can be found HERE.

There are a great deal of plans and modifications to be made before we get to August and so please do have patience while these plans are made. As the guidance stated yesterday, when schools do re-open it will be to provide a blended model of part-time ‘in-school teaching’ and part-time ‘in-home learning’. With social distancing in place throughout Phase 3, it will impossible to have all our students in school at one time. Consequently, elements of our online programme will need to continue for some time yet and running this dual system requires a great deal of organisation and co-operation between all involved. The Senior Management Team are already planning the various scenarios that such an opening will require and we very much hope to be able to invite some of our students back to school in the week beginning the 17th August 2020.

Further detailed plans will come out in due course regarding who we invite back first, how we manage their time in school and in what order our year groups will re-engage in face-to-face learning. There are many things that still need to be arranged and we await further Government guidance on Monday which will give us greater detail and clarity regarding managing risk and ensuring a safe, welcoming and successful transition back into school learning. We will ensure that the school communicates a clear plan of action once final decisions are made, but until then, I do hope that the possible opening of schools fills you with as much energy and excitement as it does me. The simple fact is that we have missed our students and are looking forward to welcoming them back to their School.

At times like this, often due to a period of uncertainty and change to the norm, stories and suggestions can quickly circulate and become ‘fact’ – I very much hope that this News Sheet provides some clarity but do remember that we only have a skeleton plan in place currently. This is:

The school will use parts of June to prepare the campuses for delivering a socially-distanced school programme – other than the continued support of key workers and vulnerable students, the School will be open to staff only. We do not have dates from the government when this can start. Our remote learning programme will continue until the end of term.

In the week beginning 17th August we will seek to begin transition of students to the School. We do not have a fixed start date – our original Start of Term date of 20th August (for Day Zero in the Senior School) may move earlier. We will confirm this shortly.

It is likely that we will focus on Transition Years first – those students in the Nursery / Junior / Senior School who are moving into a new school or new school environment. Further details will be communicated when we have them.

A blended programme of face-to-face and online education will make up a considerable part of the Autumn Term. This is clear from the Government guidance documentation. We will continue to develop and enhance our remote-learning programme. We hope to build in sporting activities (modified) and as much outdoor learning as possible – these activities will be vital to enhance social integration, well-being, healthy minds and healthy bodies. We will continue to plan and develop ways in which we can deliver co-curricular activities (music, clubs, societies etc) but the delivery of core education will be prioritised.

We will continue to support those taking national exams and make their education a priority, such that they are not disadvantaged in their important exam year. We will try to keep as much of our traditional school offerings as we can, while recognising that the health and safety of our whole community is paramount.

We will communicate further updates via the News Sheet and our website as these plans are finalised and confirmed.

As we look ahead to events after Half Term, it is worth mentioning that various 6ths Careers events are planned for June and will now take place on Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd June. All 6ths will be ‘off timetable’ on both days so that members of the 6ths can attend live presentations from universities, research courses, register and start filling in their UCAS forms and start working on their Personal Statements. They will be fully focussed on Higher Education for these two days with the support of the Careers Team. This work is very valuable before we head into the Summer break and in preparation of the busy university application process that starts on our return to the new school year.

I very much hope that you have a wonderful Half Term and look forward to being able to give you further updates as soon as we have them.

Have a wonderful break.

With best wishes

Barry Welsh

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