Pupils and teachers happy as easing of lockdown sees more children back in class

Lucinda Cameron and Laura Paterson, PA Scotland
·4-min read

Pupils and staff have said they are “delighted” to be returning to the classroom as many return to school in Scotland for the first time since December.

Children in primaries 4-7 have returned to join their younger classmates who went back to school on February 22, while more secondary pupils have also gone back.

Senior secondary school pupils required to attend for practical work for qualifications were also able to return from February 22, however, now all high school students are returning to the classroom part-time.

They will study as part of a blended learning model meaning they will continue to do some learning at home until after the Easter break.

Coronavirus – Mon Mar 15, 2021
The easing of lockdown restrictions means more pupils can study in class in Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA).

At St Andrew’s RC Secondary School in Glasgow, pupils in S5, S6 and S3 returned to the classroom on Monday March 15 while the other year groups will return later in the week.

Head girl Orla Irvine, 17, said: “I’m really excited to come back to school, it’s been good to see everyone and it feels like a bit of normality is coming back into our lives after the lockdown.”

She said that the remote learning experience has been better this time than in the previous lockdown, but that people have missed the social side of school.

The S6 pupil said: “You haven’t been able to see your pals, we were getting a little bit of normality back and then it got taken away again but we’ve been doing the stuff that you can, zoom calls and that, but it’ll be good to see them again in school because that’s like the main social place where you see everyone.”

Jordy Yahve, 17, the head boy, said: “I’m delighted to be back, it feels good to have a bit of normality back in our lives , it’s good to see other people, seeing our friends again and it’s much easier than being at home because it’s much easier for teachers and pupils to engage face-to-face so I’m very happy to be back.”

Commenting on remote learning, he said: “It was difficult at first but the teachers at this school made it a lot easier, they really helped us, tried to engaged as much as they could with us, really checked up on us to check our mental health and how we’re doing at home, they really care at this school.”

Secondary school pupils are required to observe two-metre social distancing in school and on school transport as well as wearing face coverings.

Coronavirus – Mon Mar 15, 2021
Head boy Jordy Yahve is delighted to be returning to St Andrew’s RC Secondary School in Glasgow (Jane Barlow/PA)

St Andrew’s RC Headteacher, Gerry O’Neil, said they are “absolutely delighted” to have the young people back.

He said: “The next three months will be very important for our pupils in S4, S5 and S6 as they prepare for the assessments that are required to achieve their qualifications between now and the end of the school year, but it’s also great to have a small group of S1, S2 and S3 pupils back.

“The online learning this year has gone really well, there’s been a great deal of engagement, it’s been significantly better than the last lockdown because we’ve had a chance to prepare and we’ve been able to run more of a timetabled offering and there’s been much more been live learning going on, but I think many of our young people have just got to that stage where there’s a lack of variation there and they’ve got to the stage where they just really want to get back into school.”

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the plans in a speech to MSPs on March 2 and has repeatedly stressed that having pupils return to school is her priority in easing lockdown.

She previously defended the partial return for secondary school pupils, despite being told some youngsters could spend less than two hours a week in the classroom.

Education Secretary John Swinney said the Government’s “sole motivation” was ensuring pupils’ wellbeing.