As the Summer term begins on Tuesday and with schools remaining closed, East Lothian Council is maintaining a sharp focus on meeting the needs of children and young people.
Following the national decision to close all schools as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the council established six Children’s Hubs to fulfil the learning and childcare requirements of key workers and support for our vulnerable children. The Summer term begins tomorrow with six hubs continuing to operate.
Four of the hubs were open during the Easter break, enabling key worker parents to continue making their vital contribution to local and national efforts in response to the emergency.
Lesley Brown, Chief Operating Officer for Education, said:
“It was a challenge to establish six Children’s Hubs but our staff responded quickly to put in place arrangements to provide this essential service at such a difficult time.
“More than 300 children were in attendance across the six locations prior to the Easter break. We were also able to offer provision during the holiday – with more than 150 children accessing provision across the four hubs with colleagues from different services involved.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has made this possible – our school staff for their commitment and hard work as well as our Facilities Management and Transportation colleagues for their assistance ensuring the council was able to provide more than 950 wholesome weekly lunch packs by doorstep delivery for those eligible for free school meals.
“Over the Easter holidays a range of activities were provided with the Hubs operated as a partnership project lead by Active Schools staff. Partners, including staff from the Outdoor Learning Service, Libraries, Education, Ranger Service, ‘Can Do’ Playscheme, learning assistants, Early Years Practitioners, Admin Staff, Connected Communities team members, Arts Service staff and others, all volunteered to be involved.
“Feedback suggests the hubs have been successful to date and now, as the Summer term begins, we are focused on ensuring we can continue meeting the needs of all children and young people in East Lothian notwithstanding the difficulties arising from the ongoing closure of schools.
“With this being a difficult time, it’s important to recognise that we do not expect children and young people to always follow a typical school day, especially when parents are sometimes having to juggle other tasks such as looking after others or working from home.
"Learning can be carried out in a flexible way to suit a child/family’s individual circumstances and, if you have any questions about this or the best approach to take, please do not hesitate to contact your school.
“Our school staff will continue to embrace a flexible creative approach to learning and teaching, where possible maximising the use of digital technology to support learning for children who are being cared for at home. This includes use of online tools which children and teachers can use to provide learning for children at home through Google G-Suite. Teachers will continue posting learning assignment tasks for children, including active learning opportunities which they can undertake with their families. Anyone who doesn’t have a phone or internet access at any point during the closures should let their school know. They will ensure you have the ability to stay in contact with school staff and receive information and support in continuing children’s learning."
Providing additional advice and support
Judith Tait, Chief Operating Officer for Children’s Services, added:
“We recognise it is a very difficult time for families and that our children will be missing their friends and the daily interaction they get from school and clubs. We also understand the challenges of keeping children and young people engaged in learning without the structure of the school day.
“Our Educational Psychology Service has produced advice for children and young people and families who are adapting to the current situation and how to have discussions around it.
“While being at home will be the safest place for most young people to be, we realise this is not necessarily the case for everyone.
“That’s why we are highlighting that there a number of people or organisations who can help if anyone feels worried, upset or unsafe – either for themselves or indeed someone else:
- If possible speak to an adult you know and trust who can listen and take action to help.
- Although our schools are currently closed, staff are still available for you to talk to. Please email the school office if you would like to speak to someone.
- You can contact Childline about anything and whatever your worry they are there to support you and help you find ways to cope. There are lots of different ways to get in touch with them.
- cool2talk provide a safe space where young people can get their questions answered accurately and without judgement. They respond to questions within 24 hours.
- Social work are there to help and support children and young people who are at risk of harm or don’t feel safe at home. Find their contact details.
- If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call the Police on 999 who will take action to keep you safe.
- With schools being closed, pupils will be spending more time online and it is more important than ever that you are protected from cyberbullying and online grooming. Net Aware and Thinkuknow can help you report abuse and have lots of information on how to minimise potential risks online.
“Supporting and meeting the needs of all our young people, including the most vulnerable in our communities, is always a priority for the council and our partners. In these unprecedented times, this has never been more important.”