Education matters - East Ayrshire enters Tier 3

The First Minister, in response to rising numbers of positive cases across Scotland, announced a new Covid-19 Strategic Framework that includes a 5-tier system of restrictions, starting at Level 0. The First Minister also made it clear that it was the Scottish Government’s intent to keep schools open, as far as possible, with necessary safety measures in place, including the use of face coverings at all times for non-exempt young people in the senior phase (S4 – S6).

Linda McAulay-Griffiths, Head of Education said: “As East Ayrshire moved into Tier 3, new enhanced protective measures have been introduced within our schools in line with Scottish Government local protection levels.

“There was some welcome news with the return of indoor PE, something we are all delighted about especially as the weather starts to turn colder. Tier 3 requirements also include the introduction of face coverings to be worn in classes during lessons by pupils in the senior phase (S4-S6). I am very happy to report that we have had an outstanding response from our young people and I would like to thank them for acting in such a mature and responsible way.

“I would ask that parents and carers continue to work in partnership with our schools and Early Childhood Centres and follow the additional Tier 3 requirements for all visitors to schools and ECCs, including outdoor drop-off and pick-up areas, to wear face coverings.”

In addition to the new Tier 3 enhanced protective measures, the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney has also confirmed that there will be no external coursework or examinations for National 5 courses in 2021, with results being based on teacher judgement, supported by assessment resources and quality assurance.

Examinations at Higher and Advanced Higher levels are currently being scheduled to take place, beginning on 13 May 2021. The Scottish Qualifications Authority will publish subject specific guidance on work that learners are required to complete for each subject and level throughout November.

Councillor Fiona Campbell, Spokesperson for Skills and Learning said: “I would like to reassure parents and our young people that we are preparing as thoroughly as we possibly can for next year’s exam diet and to prepare estimate grades for National 5 courses. A working group has been formed to ensure a coordinated approach to assessments across all East Ayrshire secondary schools and parents and young people will be kept informed throughout this process.

“I would also like to confirm that public health advice will be reviewed at key checkpoints throughout the session up to the February break to assess the impact of Tier levels and self-isolation on plans for any exams.

“We recognise that this is a key time in a young person’s life and that clarity is important for our young people and their parents. As a Council, we will continue to represent our young people at a national level and ensure that all assessments are fair and represent each young person’s ability.”