Nicola Sturgeon to decide today if Scottish schools will reopen full-time

Published by The Daily Record

Scottish Government ministers will meet in Edinburgh today to make a final decision on whether to proceed with plans to reopen schools on a full-time basis in August.

Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet will hear the latest evidence on virus infection rates across the country and take expert advice before signing-off on a way forward.

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The First Minister will announce the decision at the Scottish Parliament tomorrow when she makes a scheduled statement to MSPs on the country’s lockdown restrictions.

Education secretary John Swinney has previously said it remains the government’s intention to have all pupils to return to class on a full-time basis from August 11.

The announcement comes as a new study reveals three-quarters of disadvantaged and care-experienced Scottish pupils have been unable to do any school work during the lockdown.

The research by mentoring charity MCR Pathways reveals that more than 40% of pupils asked said they had been too stressed to do any school work – and one in four warned that they had other caring responsibilities that took priority.

Iain MacRitchie of MCR said: “The loss of education has been compounded by the profound impact on mental wellbeing, confidence and self-belief.

“To avoid losing a generation and further fuelling the attainment crisis, we need to listen very closely to the young people and do what they need us to do.”

He added: “Twenty per cent of our most disadvantaged don’t have the space at home to work, and 15 per cent still don’t have the IT kit or internet access. Many are trying unsuccessfully to learn using only their phones.

“This all culminates in our most disadvantaged, despite being keen to engage in learning, facing multiple and continuous barriers preventing them. We must not allow the increasing inequality and a rapidly widening attainment gap to continue.”

Last week, Swinney announced schools could gain around 850  teachers  to help class rooms cope with extra burdens caused by coronavirus.

He confirmed he has “ring-fenced” half of an earlier £100m emergency fund for the recruitment drive.

But a parents’ pressure group, and opposition MSPs at Holyrood, warned the plan should have been set out earlier.

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