Jenny Gilruth MSP's column in the Glenrothes Gazette and East Fife Mail - 24/02/2021-02/03/2021

Published date : 02 Mar 2021

School bells have been ringing for more pupils this week as nurseries, primaries 1 to 3 and a limited number of senior pupils returned to the classroom on Monday.

 

I know that this first phase of the reopening of schools will have been welcomed by most parents and carers who have been busy balancing work and home learning – no mean feat. For our children returning to school, most will have been excited to see their friends and teachers again.

 

But I also appreciate that, for some, there will have been anxiety about the return to school this week. Importantly, the Scottish Government’s decision to go ahead was informed by advice of an expert group, and everything that can be done to ensure that schools are as safe as possible for children and the education workforce is being done, including at-home lateral flow tests for staff and senior phase pupils.

 

The impact of the change will be monitored carefully before the government takes any further decisions, but the First Minister has made it clear that she hopes to set out the second phase of school reopening on 2 March.

 

Before then, the government will publish a new strategic framework, plotting a gradual route back to greater normality for all of us. It will continue to prioritise the reopening of schools because children’s education and wellbeing is such an overriding priority. 

 

For now, pupils in primaries 4-7 and most secondary pupils will continue to learn at home. Recognising that everyone involved in education has made some very difficult changes because of the virus, I want to put on record my gratitude to our hardworking headteachers, teachers, and support staff for going the extra mile to ensure that our children are not losing out. I also want to thank our children for weathering this storm and parents and carers for supporting their home learning. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for our youngest throughout the pandemic - but hopefully, as we begin the process of re-opening our schools, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

 

As home learning continues, many parents will need help towards the costs of supporting their family now more than ever. That’s why I partnered with Glenrothes-based charity Fife Gingerbread this week to encourage local families to apply for the Scottish Child Payment. It’s a weekly payment of £10 for every child under 6 years of age. To apply, please visit www.mygov.scot/scottish-child-payment or call Social Security Scotland on 0800 182 2222

 

There was also welcome news in the Scottish Government’s budget update last week: with councils receiving an extra £20 million to help families to tackle financial insecurity and an additional £100 COVID hardship payment for young people receiving free school meals. 

 

A good friend of mine pointed out recently that her Grandson hasn’t been in her house since he was 14. He’ll be 16 in April. Whilst we’ve all made difficult sacrifices throughout the pandemic, we must never forget the impact COVID-19 has had on our young people. As they move back to formal schooling and some degree of normality, we must all commit to ensure they have the necessary support to go on and thrive in life. It’s the least we owe them. 

East Fife Mail, Glenrothes Gazette, EDUCATION, COMMUNITY, FINANCE & ECONOMY
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