Renfrewshire Council

Last updated: 16:30, 25 May 2020

Schools and nurseries advice on Coronavirus

We continue to monitor the situation and are following national guidance from the Scottish Government.

On this page:

Schools and nurseries

Nursery places and 1140 ELC

School placing requests and appeals

Childcare

    Exams and qualifications

    Home learning and support

      Other support and information


      Schools and nurseries

       

      When will schools and nurseries reopen?

      Scottish Government have issued a route map for schools and nurseries reopening.

      The route map includes: 

      • Teachers returning in June to prepare for the new school term in August
      • Childcare for key workers, those in early years and children in need in June and during the summer 
      • Transition support for P1s and S1s 
      • All schools and nurseries reopening after the summer break 
      • A mix of learning at school and learning at home for all pupils  

      The safety and wellbeing of pupils, parents and carers and our teachers and school staff remain our highest priority and we will do everything in our power to support everyone through these challenging times.

      Our headteachers and nursery heads of centre have already been working on making sure our schools and nurseries are safe and welcoming places for children and young people to come back to and learn in. We will continue to adhere to national guidance on safe working arrangements. 

      Director of Children's Services, Steven Quinn, has issued a statement on the route map. You can read that here.


      Nursery places and 1140 ELC

       

      What is happening with 1140 ELC expansion in Renfrewshire?

      In March, Scottish Government removed the legal duty on councils to provide 1140 hours of early learning and childcare to all eligible two-year-olds and three and four-year-olds by August 2020. This decision was made to support councils who are providing front line support in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

      Legally this means all children must receive 600 hours of early learning and childcare, but we are working to provide the majority of children with 1140 hours from August and quickly increase the number of children receiving the additional hours when building works are complete. 

      We are committed to rolling out our current expansion plan, however there will be a delay to our original timeline. We will be able to advise you on our new timeline once the building trade opens up again and we know their timeline.


      When will I find out about my child's nursery place?

      Before Coronavirus, we had committed to letting parents and carers know about their nursery place by the end of April. Since then our normal day-to-day nursery provision has changed significantly with nursery staff working hard to provide a childcare service to key workers while also providing engaging content for children at home.

      While we had to focus on meeting new demands, we have continued to work hard on processing all applications received to date.

      If you applied by 31st January - you will hear from us by the end of May

      If you applied after January and before the end of May - you will hear from us by the end of June

      If you apply in June, July or the first two weeks in August - you will hear from us at the start of the new school year

      Parents and carers will receive a letter confirming their nursery placement.

      Can I still apply for a nursery place?

      Yes, you can still apply for a place at a council-run or funded private nursery provider, but how you apply is slightly different.

      Parents and carers can download our nursery application form, edit the document, save it and email it to their preferred nursery.

      We will shortly have an online form available that will submit the form to your preferred nursery automatically. This will replace our existing downloadable form and paper versions. We will advise you when that is ready.

      For parents and carers without internet access, you can call your preferred nursery and speak to a member of staff who will help you complete the form. You will need to send in your documents to the nursery by post. We recommend recorded delivery for added security.

      If you apply before the end of May - you will hear from us by the end of June

      If you apply in June, July or the first two weeks in August - you will hear from us at the start of the new school year

      What evidence do I need to provide?

      You must include the following evidence when you apply for a nursery place.

      • Proof of where you live (your residence)
      • Your child's original birth certificate
      • Proof of any benefits you receive

      If you apply by emailing your nursery the form, you can include screenshots of your evidence. Please make sure the image is clear enough to read the text.

      If you apply over the phone by calling your preferred nursery, you will need to send us your evidence by post. We recommend recorded delivery for added security.

      If you are having any difficulties with providing any of the above evidence, please get in touch with your preferred nursery by email or phone.

      What if I don't get the nursery place that I wanted?

      Unlike school placing requests, there is no appeal process for nursery placements.

      I have a question about my nursery place or about making my nursery application. Who can I speak to?

      Please email your preferred nursery with your questions and a member of staff will get back in touch with you. You can find the contact details for our nurseries here.


      My child already gets 1140 hours. Will they still get those hours when nurseries reopen?

      If your child already receives 1140 hours of early learning and childcare, this will continue when nurseries reopen as normal.

      We will advise parents and carers of any changes to nursery provision that are need to adhere to Scottish Government advice on reopening nurseries when lockdown restrictions are eased.

      Will you be able to give every child 1140 ELC from August?

      Currently we are predicting that we will be able to accommodate the majority of children with 1140 hours, with the rest coming on board when building works at their nursery centre or class have been completed.

      Around 80% of all parents and carers with an eligible two-year-old or a three and four-year-old have applied for a nursery place. By allocating these places, we will have a clearer picture of nursery provision across Renfrewshire.

      We will also continue to look at our nursery provision alongside Scottish Government advice on reopening nurseries when lockdown restrictions are eased.

      Will it be safe to send my child to nursery?

      We will take every safety measure and precaution needed to ensure children and staff are safe and will follow Scottish Government advice on physical distancing, handwashing, cleaning of surfaces and other requirements.

      What impact will physical distancing have on my child getting 1140 ELC?

      We are looking at what our nurseries can provide when lockdown is eased, but right now we don't know the full impact until we have further guidance from Scottish Government.

      When will you restart building new nurseries or carry out extension or refurbishment work in nurseries?

      We continue to liaise with our contractors and building work on our nursery centres and classes will resume once Scottish Government advise that lockdown restrictions can be eased.


      I work in Early Years. Where can I get more info?

      Head teachers, heads of centres and depute head teachers are managing communications within their nursery communities so please speak to your line manager with any questions. There has been a phenomenal response from early years staff and we are utterly indebted to those of you volunteering to ensure the early education of our children is still being delivered. You do an incredible job but that has never been the case more than now. Our heartfelt thanks go to every one of you.


      School placing requests and appeals

       

      What is happening with my placing request?

      Scottish Government have issued guidance on amended timescales for placing requests and appeals giving councils until the end of May to review and respond. This is in recognition of the work councils are doing to support childcare for key workers and pupils learning from home as well as supporting those most vulnerable in the community.

      On Wednesday 6 May we wrote to all parents or carers who had applied by the deadline of 15 March to let them know if their request can be accepted or not. If you applied after the deadline, we will be in touch as soon as we can, if we haven't already.

      I need to appeal a decision. How will that work?

      You can appeal a placing decision within 28 days of the date you received a decision from us. The letter with the decision will tell you how you can make an appeal.

      In line with the amended Scottish Government timescales, councils have up to three months to hold an appeal hearing, but we hope to hold all of ours before the end of June if we can.

      The amended rules allow hearings to take place through video or telephone conference and we plan to use Skype to allow parents or carers to make their case to the appeal panel.

      The council will provide support to any parents or carers who need help with the required technology. As an alternative, appeals can be made in writing if all agree to it.


      Childcare

       

      Can I get childcare?

      Schools and council-run nurseries have been closed since the middle of March as part of lockdown measures in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

      A few schools and nurseries remained open to provide childcare for specified groups. These groups are as follows:

      • children whose parents have been designated as key workers (see below for who this covers)
      • the children and young people deemed most vulnerable or in need of support.

      The families who we can accommodate have been contacted directly and made aware of the arrangements for their child.

      Scottish Government have announced their route map to schools and nurseries reopening after the summer break. You can read it on the Scottish Government website. We will provide further updates as soon as we are able. 

      We continue to follow Scottish Government directives and to try and strike a balance between respecting the health advice designed to stop the spread of the virus, while still supporting those most in need and allowing the frontline staff providing lifeline services to do so.

      Who is considered a key worker?

      We are able to accommodate children of the following, in line with government guidance:

      • All NHS and social care and associated staff supporting COVID-19 response;
      • NHS and social care workers supporting life threatening emergency work and critical primary and community care provision;
      • Key staff working for energy suppliers;
      • All other NHS and social care workers and the wider public sector workers providing emergency and critical welfare services (Fire, Police, Prisons, Social Workers, Residential care);

      How do I get a childcare place?

      If you believe you meet the criteria and haven't applied you can still do so via this link.

      If your child has a place and you no longer require it or are unable to use it, please let us know via Education as we will be able to reallocate it to someone else. 

      Our capacity to offer childcare to the families of key workers is limited by the number of available staff and by the need to ensure a safe level of social distancing for pupils.

      Which schools and nurseries are providing childcare?

      Currently only our childcare hubs are open for children of key workers, however Scottish Government have announced that this is to be expanded as part of their route map to reopening schools and nurseries. You can read more above - when will schools and nurseries reopen?

      Primary or secondary pupils who have a childcare place can attend one of the following schools: West PS and St Mary's PS (Paisley), West Johnstone campus (Johnstone) and Trinity HS and St James PS (Renfrew). Riverbrae School will also support our children with complex needs.

      Nursery pupils who have a place are able to attend either Hugh Smiley nursery (Paisley), West Johnstone campus or Moorpark nursery (Renfrew).

      Schools and nurseries are open each day from 9am until 3pm Monday to Friday for the time being. All children attending schools and nurseries will receive a free school meal.

      How is infection risk being managed?

      The health and wellbeing of our pupils and staff is of course of paramount importance and robust plans are in place to look after that. All the schools and nurseries which remain open and being thoroughly cleaned each day. Class sizes are reduced to a maximum of eight to allow physical distancing and ensure pupil are not in close contact. All current handwashing and hygiene advice is being strictly applied.

      When schools and nurseries reopen for children and young people after the summer break, we will continue to adhere to national guidelines on cleaning, hygiene and safety measures.

      What about pupil transport?

      Unfortunately, we cannot offer school transport for the schools which are open. Parents who have a place at a school or nursery will need to make their own transport arrangements. 

      Are private nurseries still open?

      Private nurseries will decide for themselves if they will choose to stay open. The directive from the Scottish Government is that they should refocus their operations to looking after the children of critical workers and those families most in need of support. Please speak to your private provider for more information on what they are offering.

      Is out of school care still on?

      All out-of-school care run by the council or in a council building is closed. Private providers who operate from a non-council building may still be open and parents should contact them directly to find out more information.

      I'm a parent - where do I get more info?

      This is an unprecedented situation and we had to reach to very fast-changing circumstances to put a very different service in place. We hope the level of detail on this page should answer most questions but if there is something not covered here, please email Education and we will do what we can for you.


      Exams and qualifications

       

      What's happening with qualifications?

      Read letter from Steven Quinn, Director of Children's Services, outlining the SQA Awards process during the Coronavirus outbreak (2 April 2020).

      There will be no exams before the summer holidays, as confirmed by the Scottish Government. 

      We know how important exams are for the future prospects of our pupils. The cancellation of exams is unprecedented and we will do all we can to ensure the hard work of our pupils throughout the year is fairly rewarded and you get the grades you deserve. 

      The Scottish Qualification Authority has announced that for this year, schools and colleges are not required to submit coursework for marking, in Higher and Advanced Higher courses. Full details can be found on their website. No pupils should come into school to complete their coursework.

      Please sign up to MySQA, the SQA's online and text service, as a direct way to receive your results.


      Home learning and support

       

      Are parents having to become teachers at home?

      The quick answer is no. Learning at home will not be the same as learning during a normal school day and that's ok. The main thing you need to do for your child is to ensure they are active, happy and healthy.

      The responsibility of educating your child remains with their teacher and the school, and they will do everything they can to support you, but if you are having to work full time from home then we know you won't have the same amount of time to dedicate to your child's learning.

      The wellbeing of your child and you as parents and carers is the most important thing right now. Please take time to have regular breaks, to do physical activity and to spend time outdoors together (within Government guidelines on physical distancing).

      In terms of learning at home, each teacher/school will send activities home that your child can work on. This could be every day or once a week. Tasks set each week can be spread out over the whole week.

      There is no need for you to provide additional learning resources for your child, but you might find some of our resources useful for keeping your child occupied and giving you some moments on peace.

      You can see these suggested ideas on our How do I keep my child active, happy and healthy during lockdown? and Where can I find additional learning resources? sections on this page, but please remember you do not need to provide a full day's worth of learning opportunities for your child.

      How will my child receive their learning activities and what should I do with them?

      Pupils will be sent home activities set by their teacher/school that will suit both their age and their capabilities. These activities may be sent home through your school's digital platform of choice or a physical copy sent to your home.

      The activities may also be sent to you each day or once a week. If you receive a weekly bundle of activities, please split this up into five chunks so your child has one chunk per day. You can ask your child's teacher to clarify what is expected - please see How will my child keep in touch with their teacher?

      Core activities around literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing will feature regularly, with science and other subjects given occasionally.

      You should ask your child if they need any support to complete the activities set by their teacher/school. They may be happy to work through the materials themselves.

      Please do not worry if your child has not finished a piece of work. If they have worked on it for an hour, then it is fine to move on. They can always come back to it another day or time.

      If your child is working through the work quickly or slowly, remember that is ok too. Our children can catch up with their learning, but they need to know it's ok from us as adults. If you are worried about your child's progress, then contact their teacher and let them know.

      How should I support my child's early learning while nurseries are closed?

      Just like home learning for primary and secondary school pupils, early learning will not be the same as learning at nursery and that's ok. The main thing you need to do for your child is to ensure they are active, happy and healthy.

      The wellbeing of your child and you as parents and carers is the most important thing right now. Please take time to have regular breaks, to do physical activity and to spend time outdoors together (within Government guidelines on physical distancing).

      In terms of learning at home, each nursery will be sending home activities with suggested daily activities to engage your child. These activities will suit the age and capabilities of your child and will be a game or play activity that links into an education aim.

      • Literacy - story book or sound hunt
      • Numeracy - set up shop or shape hunt
      • Creativity - junk modelling, create puppets

      Some activities will be done on their own and others will require minimal parental support. This can help you choose the right activity to support your needs if you are working or have other commitments.


      How do I keep my child active, happy and healthy during lockdown?

      Being indoors most of the day can be challenging for most of us, and we understand children and young people may not have the skills we have as adults to cope.

      That is why it is important that the main focus is on your child being active, happy and healthy during lockdown. Positive mental wellbeing is the most important thing right now.

      Keeping your child active

      It's a struggle to get motivated to exercise while in the house but it certainly helps children let off steam. Here are some free online exercise videos your child will find fun and get them going:

      Keeping your child happy

      We all know a screaming meltdown is not going to be good for you or your child, yet we also know balancing working from home when you have a child at home eager for your attention is going to be difficult. Here's some ideas of what you can do:

      • Build with Lego
      • Draw or colour in
      • Make art and crafts
      • Use junk materials to make a model
      • Sing or play music
      • Cook or bake with an adult
      • Do a jigsaw or puzzle
      • Play with clay or plasticine
      • Supervised access to electronics - iPad, Kindle, tablet, computers, consoles

      Keeping your child healthy

      While this is a strange situation for all of us, children might need more support understanding what is happening and why they can't go outside and play with their friends.

      One tip is to limit the amount of screen time they have (and it is a good tip for adults too). Too much screen use can lead to visual fatigue.

      It's good to take time out to:

      • Play relaxing music
      • Read a story
      • Watch a TV programme
      • Play a game
      • Do a jigsaw

      Our Education Psychology Service have put together some mental wellbeing tips for how your can support your child to adjust to this 'new normal' - see our How you can help your child page.

      If you need additional advice, don't hesitate to get in touch with your child's teachers or school and explain what is going on. They'll help you find the right resources you need.


      If I want to plan my child's day, how should I do that?

      Planning your child's day can help you balance their needs and yours during this very challenging time but remember your day will be unique to the needs of your child and your work and home situation. Here's some things to consider:

      1. Decide how you want to chunk up your day. If you are working, you might want to incorporate activities that your child can safely do with minimal supervision.
      2. Plan in regular breaks, physical exercise and outdoor time for you and your child. There are plenty of exercise videos your child will enjoy that will keep them fit and active if they need to run off steam while you are working.
      3. Choose activities that your child enjoys. You can find ideas for fun, engaging and learning activities on our Where can I find additional learning resources? and How do I keep my child active, happy and healthy during lockdown? sections.

      For young people at secondary school, there is much less supervision required. Here are some activities they could use to break up the day

      • Study their choice of subject
      • Do exercise
      • Do a hobby
      • Listen to music
      • Read a book
      • Watch TV
      • Talk to friends (online)
      • Do chores
      • Help round the house
      • Practice mindfulness
      • Practice relaxation

      Where can I find additional free learning resources?

      If your child needs support or wants to learn more about a subject, there are resources they can use on TV and online. Please make sure that they use an appropriate digital device and that they are supervised while using digital technology.

      General learning resources

      • BBC Bitesize has videos and interactive lessons for all age groups and subject areas
      • BBC Scotland has a range of educational programmes each weekday
      • Twinkl home learning support on a range of subjects for ages 3-5, 5-7 and 7-11
      • Parentzone has advice and ideas for home learning activities.
      • Parent Club has advice on all things parenting, from dealing with difficult behaviour to supporting home learning.

      Literacy, reading and writing

      • Spelling City has online spelling and vocabulary games that help children explore spelling, phonics and aspects of writing.  Printable resources are also available.
      • The Literacy Shed has a wide range of films and visual resources and your child can choose a genre that meets their individual interests, such as adventure, history, myths and legends, and fun. Each short film is accompanied with discussion questions and suggested follow-up activities.
      • Topmarks has a variety of literacy-based learning games for 3 - 11 year olds, including letters, sounds, punctuation, spelling, grammar and much more that can reinforce the learning set by your child's teacher.
      • Authorfy have a 10-minute writing and illustration challenges
      • World of David Walliams for his reading Audio Elevenses
      • Story Time for Home Time for end of day reading

      Numeracy and maths

      • Mathsfactor website with lots of numeracy support
      • Khan Academy has videos and interactive courses for almost every maths topic imaginable. 
      • Corbett Maths has video tutorials and worksheets on a large number of topics. 
      • Sumdog helps children hone key numeracy skills in a games-based environment. 

      Social subjects

      Science

      Music and Art

      Languages


      We're having problems. What should we do?

      There will be times you or your child will be stuck for one reason or another. It's important to know that it is okay and that teachers understand the demands on parents and young people right now.

      Here's how you can support your child:

      1. Contact their teacher directly via Google Classroom, GLOW, Teams or email asking for advice and support. 
      2. Search for help on YouTube or Wikipedia can help you and your child find a solution.
      3. If none of the above helps, put the task on hold or make a partial submission and get feedback from the teacher.

      If your child is feeling overwhelmed by the volume of work they have been provided with, here's how you can help. 

      1. Check to see what the teacher expects. It may well be that work is issued on a Monday for the whole week and there is no need for your child to race through all the work in one day. 
      2. Allocate an agreed time for each task, such as 50 minutes of maths, then 50 minutes of literacy. When the time is up, move onto the next task or activity, even if the task is not fully complete. Your child has fulfilled their learning in that subject for the day. This is in line with how a normal school day works.

      I'm concerned about my child's wellbeing. How can I get support?

      The weeks ahead are going to be unsettling for children and young people as well as you as their parent or carer. We know that these are challenging times and that staying indoors and physically distant from family and friends may take its toll on everyone's wellbeing.

      Please get in touch with your child's nursery or school if you are concerned about the wellbeing of your child or your family. We are here to help. You can read more from our educational psychologists on supporting your child's wellbeing on our mental health and wellbeing page. 

      You can also see some ideas on keeping your child active, happy and healthy above.


      How will my child keep in touch with their teacher?

      Many of our teachers are working from home and are keeping lessons going via online learning. Our schools have done an incredible job to pull together materials to let this happen.

      We are using Glow to facilitate this as it allows pupils to work in a variety of ways, including with their peers and at their own pace. It is free to all pupils and can be accessed anywhere, any time and on any device.

      Pupils are being given homework tasks assigned by their teacher and should work to complete these at home. Here's where to find the information - Glow - sign in

      Your child was given their log in details at the beginning of the school year and in the last week. If you have problems logging in, please email your school directly.

      Here is where to find support on how to use certain apps within Glow:

      Pupils should follow the Acceptable Use Policy for using digital platforms at all times. For a reminder of this policy, please contact your school.

      Anyone who does not have internet access should let the school know as soon as possible and alternative arrangements will be made for these pupils to receive a homework pack. If your school uses an alternative ICT solution such as Seesaw or Sumdog, please contact the school directly.


      My child is due to start primary or secondary school, or due to leave this summer. Where can I find support for them?

      In line with Scottish Government's route map to reopen schools and nurseries, transition support will be made available, however this might not look like it normally does in previous years. We will keep you updated as the guidance develops.

      There are a few resources online that you may find useful.

      For all ages

      Starting P1

      Moving from P7 to S1:

      Leaving high school:


      I'm a teacher - where do I get more info?

      Head teachers are managing communications within their school communities so please speak to your line manager with any questions. There has been a phenomenal response from teachers and school staff and we are utterly indebted to those of you volunteering to ensure the education of our children and young people is still being delivered. You do an incredible job but that has never been the case more than now. Our heartfelt thanks go to every one of you.


      Other support and information

       

      Will free school meals/clothing grants still be provided?

      Free school meals are being provided for the children in the groups who are attending school. The parents of children who qualify for a clothing grant will receive fortnightly payment direct to their bank account of £11.25 per child per week. These payments will continue over the Easter holidays and for as long as schools remain closed, even if over the summer. The parents of children in P1-3 who would normally receive a free school meal will only receive this payment if they are in receipt of a clothing grant.

      Unfortunately, the deadline for clothing grants applications for 2019-20 has now passed but you can still apply for free school meals.


      Can childminders be used?

      The Scottish Government has advised registered childminders to cease all provision apart from for key worker families and vulnerable children until further notice.

      If carrying this out, childminders are strongly advised to limit the number of households for whom they provide childcare for to two, other than their own, to limit the risk of transmission.

      Should my parents look after my children?

      It depends on their age and their health. Anyone over 70 years old, pregnant women or anyone under 70 with an underlying health condition i.e. anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds, should reduce social contact and stay at home for 12 weeks.

      If your parent falls under the above at risk categories, you should follow the advice given by the government and NHS.

      What if me or my child has health issues or needs additional support?

      We recognise this a challenging time for many. The health and wellbeing of our local communities is our priority and we understand the concern these changes will cause.

      We are working through the emerging guidance on supporting families who need it most. Please be assured that we will update you on what support is available as quickly as we can.

      In the interim, if you face a situation where you become unwell and do not have alternative childcare arrangements, please speak with your school directly for advice and guidance.

      What should I do if I or someone in my family contracts Coronavirus?

      If you have the symptoms consistent with coronavirus stay at home for 7 days from the day your symptoms started. You do not need to call NHS24 or your GP unless your symptoms do not get better or your health condition changes significantly.

      See Coronavirus symptoms and the latest guidance from Scottish Government

      If you live with others, all other members of the household should stay at home for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day illness began in the first person. Detailed stay at home advice can be found at NHS Inform.

      The following groups should reduce social contact and stay at home for 12 weeks: Anyone over 70 years old, Pregnant women or anyone under 70 with an underlying health condition i.e. anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds.

      To reduce the spread of illness, follow the Catch it, Bin it, Kill it advice as well as washing your hands often with soap and water regularly or use an alcohol based hand rub.


      Refunds for school meals and trips

      We are currently working on refunding all money paid by parents and carers for school meals, and for any day and residential school trips which have been cancelled. We are aiming to get this to parents as soon as possible.

      For school meals, where the money was paid into our ParentPay system, our Children's Services staff are currently working through this and will refund the money direct to your bank account. Where the money was paid direct to the school, they will arrange for this to be refunded direct to you if they haven't already.