Socially distant but learning together

A blog post by Catriona Rae

Catriona Rae
Education and Learning Officer

Posted 09/10/2020

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Scottish pupils have just completed their first part of term since returning for a new year of learning after months of lockdown. 

Being back in school – a return to something approaching normal was welcomed by some - a chance to see teachers and friends without a screen in the way.  My own two children actually missed school and were glad to have returned, something I thought would never happen!

For others, returning to school was and still is the source of some anxiety and uncertainty which is completely understandable. A lot has changed in the last six months and school doesn’t look quite the same as it did in March.  New habits like hand sanitiser and social distancing now mix with the familiar routine.

Food and the environment at home

Eco Schools

Eco-Schools at home

For educators especially the return to school involved weeks of planning, and detailed rethinking about the entire school day.  This is on top of the work many teachers did throughout lockdown keeping hubs open for children of essential workers.    

When lockdown started, and we hid away to protect one another, our education and learning team moved quickly to provide online learning with e-Sgoil.  For us this was the best part of lockdown.  We really enjoyed teaching pupils, even if it was through a screen. The resilience of pupils in adapting to online learning was outstanding.  So many pupils joined us; all still wanting to learn despite the upheaval lockdown brought, the technology not always behaving the way it should, and the uncertainty of being away from a familiar routine.  Their creativity and drive to learn was what got us through work during lockdown and gave us a renewed appreciation for what we are able to offer.


Catriona working from home

We even developed Eco-Schools at Home materials to support parents and educators who were home schooling and looking for resources and ideas to bring the environment, particularly what we could relate to in local parks, beaches and neighbourhoods and our own back gardens into a modified curriculum.   It was inspiring to see so many engage and share their experiences on social media as they reconnected with nature and experienced new learning behaviours as a family.

After all that has happened since March, we started this new school year with a renewed appreciation for the familiar but also a new sense of excitement at what we can achieve even when we’re not able to visit schools in person. 

We’re getting quite good at this online teaching stuff, and after the October break we will be ready to offer Climate Ready Classrooms, Train the Trainer, Outdoor Journeys, and Food & the Environment courses to whole classes or pupils who are learning online.  It is an exciting change for us, one that will help us support educators and young people across Scotland in ‘virtual’ person at a crucial time, as we urgently encourage action to be taken to tackle the climate and nature emergency before it is too late.

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