Schools, early learning and children

Most pupils learning from home until mid February (19 January)

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday 19 January that Scotland's Covid-19 lockdown has been extended until at least the middle of February, with most school pupils to continue learning from home. She hopes schools will be able to at least begin a phased return to the classroom in the middle of next month.

Schools will continue to provide critical childcare only for key workers and for our most vulnerable children and young people.

Category 1 or 2 key workers should contact their child's school directly with any queries about places. 

Schools will continue to provide home learning until at least the middle of February. This learning experience will be different, however it will still be based on children’s current learning targets.

Arrangements for education after the school break (4 January)

The First Minister has extended the break for pupils until 11 January 2021. From that date, most pupils will learn from home until at least the end of January after new restrictions were announced on Monday 4 January. 

Staff will return on Wednesday 6 January. From Thursday 7 January until the end of January, schools will provide critical childcare only for key workers, and for our most vulnerable children and young people. 

Update after the First Minister's announcement (Sunday 20 December)

Following the First Minister’s announcement on Saturday, please find more details of what this will mean for schools.

Following public health advice, the Scottish Government advises schools should remain OPEN until the end of term. Having taken advice from public health, Midlothian Council will ensure our schools and early learning and childcare settings will continue with effective preventative measures in place. 

We understand that some parents have been in touch to say they will keep their child at home. If you intend to keep your child at home please inform your school as you normally would.

On Tuesday 22 December, we will update parents and carers about arrangements for schools and our early learning settings after the festive break.

Update on schools coming later today (20 December)

We will be updating parents and carers later today about school arrangements for Monday onwards in the light of the First Minister’s announcement last night about tighter coronavirus restrictions. Many thanks for your patience. 

Highers and Advanced Highers update (17 December)

With Higher and Advanced Higher exams cancelled, we have more details of the awards process.

1140 hours of early learning and childcare update (16 December)

The expansion to 1140 of free early learning and childcare for all 3 and 4-year-olds and eligible 2-year-olds was scheduled to take effect across Scotland from August 2020. Due to the pandemic the implementation was paused and will now come into effect from August 2021.

In recognition of the benefits that the increased hours provide to children and their families, Midlothian Council has a continuing commitment to offering 1140 hours to all eligible children. 

As a result, we have worked hard, in partnership with early learning and childcare providers across Midlothian, to do so prior to it becoming a statutory responsibility. 

Almost all settings in Midlothian including private and voluntary providers, and childminders are able to offer 1140 hours currently. Parents have the option of taking their full 1140 offer at more than one setting through a blended model.

Update on contact self-isolation period (13 December)

We are reminding local people anyone required to self-isolate, due to contact with someone who has had a positive test for coronavirus (COVID-19), or as a result of quarantine rules on arrival from overseas will need to do so for 10 days following updated clinical advice.

Currently the self-isolation period for international travellers and for contacts of positive cases in Scotland is 14 days but this will change from tomorrow (Monday 14 December).

Highers and Advanced Highers (8 December)

This afternoon, the Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced Highers and Advanced Higher exams will be cancelled for 2020-21. 

Instead, results will be based on teacher judgement of evidence of your child’s attainment.  Your child’s school and the SQA are committed to working together to support teachers. 

A robust quality assurance model similar to that already being carried out to determine provisional results awarded by teachers at National 5 level will be extended to include Higher and Advanced Highers. 

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is also developing an equality impact assessment as part of this quality assurance model which aims to ensure fair and credible results for all learners. 

We realise today’s announcement, which comes after October’s announcement that National 5 exams too will be cancelled, may be stressful for some pupils and their families.

We are confident the process for Higher and Advanced Higher provisional results will be in place to make sure your child’s results will be fair. 

If you have any further concerns then please contact your child’s school directly. We will continue to keep you and your child informed of what this means for them as candidates as soon as we can on receipt of further details as a result of today’s announcement.

School holidays - no change (updated 3 December)

The Scottish Government has announced there will be no changes to the planned Christmas and New Year holiday dates for schools. This means Midlothian schools will close for the festive break on Tuesday 22 December and will reopen to pupils on Wednesday 6 January, as planned. 

•    More information about school term dates

The Deputy First Minister John Swinney made the announcement today (Thursday) after taking public health advice on if the holiday period should be extended.

That advice is, on balance, there would be less transmission of COVID-19 through children and young people being in school than mixing out of school. Adding this to the issues around vulnerable children and the need for childcare for key worker children, public health advice is to not change term dates at either end. Mr Swinney was also mindful extending the school holidays could cause significant difficulties for working parents. 

Individual schools will provide information to their parents and carers about contact tracing arrangements for the holiday period.

Many thanks for your support and co-operation. 

Update on Scottish Government guidance on reducing the spread of COVID-19 in schools and childcare settings (Friday 30 October)

Our Executive Director Children, Young People and Partnerships Fiona Robertson has written to parents about new Scottish Government guidance on reducing the spread of COVID-19 in schools and childcare settings.

From week beginning Monday 2 November, our schools will be taking steps to implement the new measures. Schools will be in touch with parents and carers about these changes.

In the meantime, from Monday please wear a face covering when dropping off or picking up your child from any school or childcare site. Please note, as Midlothian is following Level 3 protection measures, senior phase secondary pupils (S4-S6) will also be required to wear a face covering in classrooms from Monday.

The guidance has also been updated regarding those with the highest clinical risk (shielding) and states parents or guardians should discuss with their GP or clinician whether children with the highest clinical risk should attend school.

Free School Meals and Clothing Grants update (9 October - 22 December 2020)

Currently, BACS payments are set up for those families who qualified for free school meals based on criteria applied during the lockdown and summer period. However, a number of changes are due to take place.

Exams: 7 October announcement

The Deputy First Minister has today (Tuesday) announced a number of measures for the awarding of National Courses at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher in 2020–21. We will be reviewing these new measures and updating parents and carers about what it means for local pupils as soon as we can.

Music tuition letter to parents and carers 

A letter has been sent to parents and carers with a further update on music tuition plans on 3 September.

Message to parents to remain vigilant

Midlothian Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Jim Muirhead reassured parents and carers that, as schools are now fully open to all pupils, we’re doing all we can to keep staff and children safe. However, he stressed parents and carers need to do their part too.

He said: “It’s absolutely vital we all remain vigilant. If your child or a member of your household has any of the symptoms of coronavirus, however mild, be that a continuous cough, a temperature or a loss of sense of taste or smell, under no circumstances send your child to school. Please follow the guidance to the letter. This will ensure schools can remain open and ultimately, it could save lives.”

Instrumental music tuition reminder

A letter has been sent to parents and carers to say pupils studying for an SQA Music qualification will be offered online tuition and one-to-one lessons where possible.  We expect further national guidance about music tuition during the term. For all other children and young people, lessons will start again week beginning Monday 26 October, after the mid-term break.

Free school meals update (11 August)

We would like to clarify the position with BACS payments for those entitled to free school meals:

Currently, BACS payments are set up for those families who qualified for free school meals based on the criteria applied during the lockdown and summer period. As of the start of the new academic session ALL P1-3 children are entitled to free school meals. It has not been possible at this time to expand the BACS payment system for ALL P1-3 children. Therefore:

  • From Monday 17 August, ALL P1-3 children will be provided with a free packed lunch from our school meals service- until then they should bring a packed lunch to school
  • This can be ordered on a weekly basis, with further information about the ordering system being issued by the end of this week by your child’s school.
  • For all other children and young people from P4-S6 who are entitled to free school meals, BACS payments will continue until Friday 18 September and they should continue to bring a packed lunch to school until then or are advised otherwise.

Please contact your child’s school if you have any further questions or concerns about the provision of school lunches.

If you are worried about your child coming back to school

If you have any concerns at all about your child coming back to school this week, please do not hesitate to contact the school. They will be happy to arrange for either a phased return, or a different start time for your child if they don’t want to arrive at the same time as the rest of the class. Our schools will do everything they can to support a happy and safe return to school.

School transport update (11 August)

We have sent letters to all pupils travelling to school by public or school transport.

Please note if your child was entitled to FREE school transport last year (i.e, you didn’t have to pay) and is still at the same school then the same arrangements will be in place. In this instance, contact the bus operator for pick up times.  Many thanks for your patience.

Early learning and childcare update (10 August)

A letter dated 10 August has been sent to parents and carers with further information about the return to school Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) Centres (PDF) on 12 August and our commitment to delivering the 1140 hours per year of ELC just as soon as possible. 

School transport update (6 August)

A letter has been sent to parents and carers about school transport including information on physical distancing and face coverings (PDF).

Schools reopening (6 August update)

A letter has been sent to parents and carers with further details about arrangements for schools to reopen, including lunches, drop-off and pick-ups and uniforms.

Midlothian Schools will open full-time to pupils from 12 August 2020. In line with government advice, we have been planning a phased return of pupils to ensure the wellbeing of everyone in schools. Our phasing plan is as follows:

Monday 10 August and Tuesday 11 August : In-service days. Staff only in primary and secondary schools.

Primary Schools

  • 12 August-14 August: Primary 2-7 full-time. Individual schools will be in touch to confirm local arrangements for a phased P1 return.
  • 17 August: P1-P7 full-time.

Secondary Schools

  • 12 August-14 August: S1 full-time. Individual schools will be in touch to confirm local arrangements for a phased S2-S6 return.
  • 17 August: S1-S6 full-time.

Saltersgate and primary provisions

  • 12 August: All pupils will return full-time.

Other arrangements

Individual schools will be in touch to confirm other arrangements for school uniform, equipment, lunches and transport. We continue to undertake all necessary risk assessments and protective measures in each school to allow the safe return of staff and pupils to our schools. Once again we would like to thank you for your support and cooperation as we plan to welcome our pupils back in a supportive and safe manner.

Early learning and childcare update (Tuesday 4 August)

We have more information for parents and carers about reopening our local authority childcare settings and providing 1140 hours of early learning.

More information about reopening of schools (Thursday 30 July)

The Scottish Government has announced more details and guidance on the reopening of schools.

We will be sharing more details of our reopening plans with parents and carers early next week. 

However, based on current information, we anticipate our primary schools will be able to re-open to all children at the start of the academic session on Wednesday 12 August with no social distancing, if the coronavirus remains suppressed.

We expect that all of our secondary schools will have all children and young people in full time by 18 August at the very latest.

Reopening of childcare settings

The childcare sector, such as nurseries, could re-open from 15 July. Critical childcare continues for key workers and vulnerable children.

Here is an update on the early learning and childcare 1140 hours expansion plans.

Free school meals over the summer 

We will continue providing free school meals over the summer to our most vulnerable families. If you have been getting a packed lunch delivery, your school or nursery will contact you to arrange payments. If you currently receive BACS payments, this will continue and no action is required.

Payments will be made 4 weekly in advance, from Friday 26 June. This will continue until national guidance on schools reopening is confirmed. Please email any enquiries to [email protected]

Response to Depute First Minister's statement (23 June)

Depute First Minister John Swinney has made a statement in the Scottish Parliament about all children and young people returning to school on 12 August. He indicated that the Scottish Government’s planning assumption is now to have all pupils returning to schools 12 August, if it is safe to do so. He has also indicated that this will be conditional and dependent upon scientific and health advice. Clearly, our schools are delighted at the prospect of welcoming all of our pupils back to school in August with the knowledge that it is safe to do so.

Midlothian Council’s plans to deliver a blended learning model will remain as a contingency and essential preparation in case they are needed. We would like to assure you that all our schools have a robust blended learning plan ready, should it be needed.

We are now urgently considering the implications of this announcement on our plans for August. It is clear that final decisions on a full return will not be confirmed until during the summer holidays. We await further specific guidance and will be in touch with you again as soon as we can. We continue to assume that staff will return to school on the 10 August, and pupils will return on 12 August.

We appreciate that this is a fast changing situation and you will be keen to know what this means for your children. As this change has to be achieved safely, it inevitably remains conditional and dependent upon ongoing scientific and health advice, therefore we are committed to continuing to share information with you as soon as we can, including during the summer holidays.

Schools update (12 June)

Parents and carers have been sent a letter with updated information about returning to school.

Schools update (3 June)

Early learning and childcare 1140 hours update

We are committed to implementing the increase in funded early learning and childcare hours as soon as it is safe to do so. Coronavirus infection control measures have significantly reduced the number of children that settings can care for and, as a result, the Scottish Government has postponed the implementation date of the expansion in hours.

If these restrictions continue we will not have capacity to offer 1140 hours for all children from August. The Scottish Government and the Care Inspectorate will publish revised guidance in mid-June and we will review our plans at that time and maximise the number of funded hours we can offer, with priority given to those children most in need.

We will continue to work in partnership with our local authority settings, childminders and private and voluntary sector providers to develop a model of delivery that reflects the national guidance. If we are able to revise our plans, we will contact parents as soon as we are able to with details of the hours that they can receive.

Fill in our survey by 8 June

Are you the parent or carer of a child who you want to attend a Midlothian Council Early Learning and Childcare setting in the next academic year? Have you completed the survey which will help us allocate places in August?

Virtual tours (from 1 June)

Virtual tours of schools are now available. Open the map of Midlothian then select your high school catchment area to find your primary or secondary school tour.

Schools update (29 May)

A letter has been sent to all parents and carers around arrangements to reopen schools. There are also more details about transition arrangements for P1s and P7s.Schools update (21 May)

Plans are already well underway to re-open schools in Midlothian and today’s publication of the Scottish Government’s ‘Strategic Framework for Reopening Schools and ELC Settings in Scotland’ gives further clarity on progressing those, including arrangements for the return of specific groups of children in late June to support transition.

All ELC settings should continue to provide childcare for key worker families only until further notice.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also announced that schools will reopen on Tuesday 11 August, which is earlier than our planned date of 19 August.

We will be sharing an update on reopening and transition arrangements with staff, parents and carers as soon as we have them. A key priority is to ensure the safety of our children, young people and staff.

In the meantime, read more about the First Minister’s plans for schools on the BBC website.

We'd like to thank our carers who are providing stable homes for children and young people (14 May)

Parent Club

The Scottish Government's Parent Club website has lots of tips and advice to help families during the Coronavirus and in general.

Young carers

Update for parents and carers 28 April

We have more information about school progress reports.

Update for parents and carers 27 April

We want to make sure children and young people either starting early learning, primary or secondary schools or leaving school have a positive experience when making that move (transition) during the epidemic.

Update for parents and carers 24 April

We have responded to the SQA (PDF) about determining exam results in 2020.

Update for parents and carers 17 April

Current position regarding schools

Schools are closed to most pupils.

Exceptions

Saltersgate School

Saltersgate School will be open to support our children with severe and complex needs. The head teacher contacted individual families about individual arrangements.

Vulnerable S4-S6 pupils

Only S4-S6 pupils who access Complex Needs Provision should attend. Please follow individual arrangements already in place with the school.

All other S4-S6 pupils must not go into school for any reason. This follows updated advice to local authorities issued Sunday 22 March by John Swinney, Deputy First Minister. 

Exams and coursework

The SQA shared more details on Tuesday 24 March on the arrangements being put in place because of the cancellation of the examination programme.

For this year, schools and colleges are not required to submit learner coursework for marking in Higher and Advanced Higher courses. This also applies to National 5 qualifications where coursework was due to be uplifted in April and May.

Please don’t contact schools about this update on your child’s estimation of grades: the SQA will provide fuller details on their approach to certification. We will contact parents and pupils with more information about estimation of grades, when staff have taken the guidance being developed by the SQA into account.

We are following public health guidance on self-isolation for staff and pupils with underlying health conditions.

Key workers

We are organising childcare for families of Lothians key worker groups based on the latest Scottish Government school closure guidance for key workers

Schools are acting as hubs to deliver this.

Please don't call - we'll be in touch

Please be patient and do not call us about places at our hubs. This will allow us to work through the requests received. The team will plan faster if you let them focus on this rather than taking your calls.

If you do have a query please email:

Updated government guidance

Scottish Government advice now says:

  • If one parent is a key worker and the other is not, the non-key worker should provide childcare. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.

Social distancing

The fewer children travelling to school and the fewer children in schools, the lower the risk that the virus can spread to vulnerable people in the community. 

Our hubs will care for a limited number of children:

  • who are vulnerable
  • whose parents are critical to the pandemic response and cannot be cared for at home.

Early Learning

Some of our early learning partner providers are open to support:

  • category 1 critical care workers
  • care workers
  • households where both adults are key workers
  • single parent key workers. 

Contact the partner providers directly. Send details of your names, jobs, names and ages of your children, and if they currently attend an ELC along with contact details. The provider will be in touch as soon as they can.

Hawthorn Family Learning Centre

Hawthorn Family Learning Centre remains open to support our most vulnerable families. This support is prearranged and by appointment. Please do not attend the centre unannounced. If you and your family are needing support please contact Children’s Services on 0131 271 3413.

The centre works with pre-5 children in partnership their parents/carers. The centre also works with children with disability or affected by disability.

Free school meals

Midlothian Council has now set up a BACS payment for all Secondary pupils S1-S6 entitled to free school meals. Households with Secondary age children and younger siblings will receive payments for all children. However families with children only in Primary schools will not receive the payment but will continue to receive food.

This will be processed as a 4 week period direct to families. The first run will be from Monday 6 April to Friday 1 May, then processed in subsequent 4-week periods. The first payment will be in parents' accounts on 9 April 2020.

If you have not received your payment, contact your school and they will be able to help. However, during the Easter break, any family having trouble accessing their funds, leaving the house, or who has received a shielding letter should contact Heather Ritchie.

More information

Children's Services

Although our buildings have limited access, our Children's Services, including help and support for foster carers, continues.