East Lothian Council education gap unknown

Tuesday June 8th 2021


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

The impact of Covid lockdowns on East Lothian’s pupils will continue for years to come, councillors have been warned.

Lesley Brown, East Lothian Council’s education chief, said that the effect on children and young people of schools being closed over the last 18 months was still to be seen.

And a report on the return of schools warned it could be years before the impact is tackled.

Miss Brown praised the work of her staff, young people and their families in tackling an “extremely challenging time”.

At a virtual meeting of the council’s education committee, Miss Brown, the council’s executive director for education and childrens services, said work to identify pupils who had been most affected by the lockdowns and needed additional support had been ongoing as they returned to classes.

But she warned: “It is not yet possible to fully quantify the gap or gaps.”

She said: “There is no doubt this has been a challenging time for our learners, families and staff. But they have demonstrated their commitment to going on during this extremely challenging time.”

A report on the Covid impact on schools told the committee a wide range of measures were in place to support pupils, from introducing and looking to expand a tutoring initiative for senior students to prioritising Covid recovery in schools and supporting pupils and teachers.

The report said: “It is likely that we will continue to see the impact of the pandemic for years to come on our learners.

“Schools and the wider education service will do everything we can to mitigate this impact, learn the lessons of what has worked and what we need to improve and ensure that we continue to improve outcomes for all.”

Councillors praised the efforts of everyone involved in looking after the county’s school pupils during the pandemic.

The report went on to outline the education service’s plans moving forward adding: “Following a range of assessments carried out during the summer term, schools have in place a range of interventions to support children.

“This includes direct teaching support and small group interventions to enhance learning where gaps have been identified.

“We are also working with our partners to put in place a further year of the East Lothian Tutoring Initiative which in year one supported around 200 young people from S4 to S6 across all six secondary schools.

“Work continues with our Education Scotland Attainment Advisor to learn about what is working elsewhere and to plan further interventions that will support our children and young people.”

Among the initiatives praised by councilors was the ability to continue providing the instrumental music service in children’s homes during lockdown.

Councillor Jim Goodfellow said: “I found it really incredible that instrumental music managed to continue.”

The report reveald that there are currently 725 registered learners with the service and a waiting list of 60.

Video lessons were offered to pupils in their homes with an 87 percent engagement rate. Lessons returned to schools from March, with the exception of brass and wind lessons which continue virtually.

Councillor Fiona Dugdale, education committe convenor, added her thanks to the school communities for their work during the pandemic.

She said: “I think everyone has pulled together to work with real purposed to support our young people and children.

“I am extremely proud to be sitting her as convenor at this time. My heartfelt thanks (to everyone) as convenor and as a mum.”

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