School attendance ‘positive’

Attendance at schools across Aberdeenshire has been hailed as “really positive” following the return of pupils full time.

By Kirstie Topp – Local Democracy Reporter

The Director of Education and Children’s Services at Aberdeenshire Council Laurence Findlay gave an update to members of the Education and Children’s Services Committee on Thursday, May 27.

Mr Findlay said that attendance of pupils across the region last week was 94.8 per cent, above the national average of 92.3 per cent.

He also revealed that pupils not in school for covid reasons was 0.5 per cent and 4.7 per cent for other reasons.

Pupils not at school due to parent refusal was just 0.05 per cent.

Mr Findlay added that staff attendance “remains high”.

He said that staff had been positive about the return with parents “equally happy” to see children back as homeschooling had put a “significant pressure” on families.

In his update Mr Findlay said that the uptake of lateral flow testing in staff and pupils was “very high” and said it “underlines everyone’s commitment to doing all we can individually and collectively to live with the virus and hopefully move beyond the pandemic”.

Mr Findlay told the committee that he holds virtual meetings with head teachers across the region every week to discuss any concerns they may have.

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He noted that the biggest concern at the moment is around the alternative certification model that is in place for this year’s SQA assessments.

He has met with Parent Council chairs to discuss the process and received “positve” feedback adding that this helped assure him that the local authority was doing all it can to meet requirements.

However Mr Findlay was quick to note that despite this assurance it did not take away the “stress and pressure” felt by students across the region.

He gave his thanks to everyone involved with the alternative certification model process in Aberdeenshire.

Committee chair councillor Gillian Owen said it was “great” to see the schools back despite the mitigations in place due to the pandemic and thanked staff who had “worked hard to get us to this point”.

Councillor Louise Mcallister added that it was “absolutely wonderful” to have the schools back.

She noted there was negativity in the press regarding the SQA assessments and how they are being handled this year but added that pupils were doing “really, really well” and “coped marvellously well during an absolutely horrendous time for them all”.

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