Senior Phase Update

Dear Parent/Carer,

Ordinarily, this would be the point in the session where I would be exhorting families to keep calm and pace themselves over study leave and where our senior students dip in and out of school and home on SQA exam business, college preparations and/or work placements. Sadly, we all know this is no ordinary year and normality still appears to be some way off.

So, things are and will remain very different for us all this year. There is no way around that. We will strive to make sure that we adhere to key markers in our academic 2020 calendar as we close this session out and ensure that, under the current circumstances, we prepare as best we can for the 20/21 session.

To that end we are now in a position to move to more formal arrangements for senior phase students who had just about reached the end of National courses when the schools closed.

We have taken the decision to continue with the change of timetable to ensure continuity for our pupils and allow them to move on with work for the subjects they have chosen. As is the case each year, the level studied is subject to change depending on SQA results in August.

For any further questions relating to SQA results please refer to the March update published on our school website. Please find below some sample questions and our responses in this area.

When will the timetable change? 

The timetable change will be staggered to factor in the logistics of working remotely and the inbuilt constraints of this necessity. We usually change mid May for S1-3 and June for S4-6.

  • Higher and AH subjects: Mon 4th This is around a month early due to no exams
  • National subjects: Mon 11th May
  • S3 subjects: Mon 18th May 

How do I find the Google Classrooms for the new timetable?

Faculty Heads have a list of pupils who have chosen each subject. Pupils will be added to the relevant classrooms and should ensure that they accept the invitation.  This will occur on the Friday before the date listed above.

Pupils will be invited to join the Google Classroom of their chosen subjects. If they have not been added to a relevant Google classroom they should send an email to their pupil support teacher who will check the reason for this and respond. Contact details can be found in the March update we released on the school website.

During the period of working from home, specific subject teachers will co-ordinate specific years and levels of study; all teachers will not deliver work at all levels.  Please note that these arrangements are for workload and organisational purposes and will change when we return to the school building. 

What work will I be set?

Work will be set by class teachers assigned to a Google Classroom. This work may include a variety of tasks including taking notes, watching video clips or completing research projects. Materials for use will be posted on the classroom and class teachers will set clear instructions of tasks and dates for completion. Class teachers may also use pre-recorded clips to help pupils understand new concepts. Pupils can then send any questions that they may have to the teacher on the Google classroom. We are working to advice from Education Scotland and SLC with regard to which platforms can be used and the level of interactivity allowed for security purposes.

Can I change a subject that I have chosen?

As previously stated by Mr MacLeod on the website, due to the current circumstances, we are unable to process changes of subject at this time. We would hope to manage this before summer but always re-course in August once the SQA results are in.

I had chosen a subject that may run at a different school. Will I still be able to do this?

Due to the current circumstances, this cannot be confirmed. As such, we will continue with the subject that you chose as an alternative Plan B. Until we know more about returning to school, we cannot guarantee that working with other schools as we usually do will be possible.

I had chosen a course or programme with a college input. Will I still be able to do this?

There is no change to the plans previously agreed regarding vocational, college and apprenticeship pathways. Pupils with expectations of leaving or taking up other courses elsewhere are still being supported into those pathways by school, college and SDS staff. Much time and thought and effort has already gone into matching students to appropriate opportunities of this nature. At time of writing, these other organisations are, as normal, still completing their applications processes and as such we will update when we can.

So, for the moment, this is how the school will be moving forward and how we are able to manage the move from the old timetable to the new. This has already been quite an undertaking for staff, well experienced and comfortable in ways of working known to be successful over a period of time. I am indebted to them all for the new and unfamiliar skills that have been picked up thus far to keep learners and families furnished with resources. This will develop further as time goes on and in future will be another dimension for our approaches. As I look for silver linings in our current context, that is one. Another is the opportunity that 8 weeks of learning provides for most senior phase learners before the summer. I would wish all of us to note that we can achieve great things with a full term’s work ahead of us and ask that all of the commitment to new ways of working from staff colleagues is rewarded with a high level of engagement from learners when our plans go live next week.


Stay Safe.

Graeme Sives

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