Following the communication from the Education Department on the return to school, I have worked with a number of local PC Chair’s to draft a statement which we have released today in advance of the South East Locality meeting this evening. It is below for your information. I will continue to work with the other PC chairs on your behalf to influence and shape the return to school plans.
Bruntsfield Parent Council
On behalf of the Parent Council Chairs from Boroughmuir High School, Buckstone Primary School, Bruntsfield Primary School, James Gillespie’s Primary School, Tollcross Primary School, Royal Mile Primary School, James Gillespies High School, Preston Street Primary School and Taobh na Pairce.
We are writing to express our deep concern over the City of Edinburgh plans for the reopening of schools in August 2020. The impact on the education, social and emotional well being of our children and of the ability of parents to return to work will be severely hindered and damaged by the approach outlined so far.
It is the corresponding right of every child of school age to be provided with school education by an education authority that meets those minimum standards (section 1 of the SSS Act 2000). That fundamental right is also enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 28), adopted into UK law in 1992.
The plan for children to return to school in August outlined in the City of Edinburgh Council’s letter dated 12 June singularly fails to discharge the education authority’s obligations under the legislation noted above. The issues with the current proposals are multiple, such as the provision of less than 30% face-to-face teaching time and the lack of clarity about online teaching provision. It also fails to give effect to children’s rights under national and international law and is likely to increase existing inequalities significantly.
In addition, we understand that any changes in education provision should be subject to consultation. Since 20th March 2020 when schools closed, the council have failed to engage with parent groups, for example cancelling Locality meetings, and have consistently been slow to respond to parents’ concerns.
We appreciate that this is a national crisis but feel it is reasonable to expect more to be done at both a local and national level. The devolved nature of responsibility for education should not result in sub-standard and inconsistent provision across the country; we consider that the current situation requires a national and coordinated response across Scotland. Whilst primary schools are craving space – potentially outdoor – in order to increase attendance we appreciate this is not necessarily a solution for secondary schools.
A survey conducted on 16 June 2020 of over 1000 parents in excess of 30 Edinburgh south schools. Whilst this survey was blunt it sought to extract the views of parents around the proposal published on 12 June. Parental views were as follows:
- 89% of parents do not agree that 33% of pupils in school is adequate
- 89% expect CEC to investigate additional buildings including libraries and church halls
- 87% expect CEC to investigate the use of outside spaces such as the Meadows, Bruntsfield Links and Harrison Parks
- 93% of parents expect increased support for in-home learning from August 2020
- 93% of parents expect CEC to publish a full roadmap explaining the review points and progress towards reestablishing full school timetabling
- 71% of parents feel communication has not been adequate since March 2020
We ask that the Council revisit its current approach urgently, engage with parents in making plans for improved provision from August 2020 and display leadership in publishing a clear roadmap to get our schools back to full time teaching in order that families can plan the support they need for session 2020/21.
We want the voice of parents and children to be heard so we can all work together to develop and deliver an approach that safe-guards the health and wellbeing of kids and families and of teachers and the school community whilst delivering the quality education that our children deserve,