Praise and prizes for pupils in face of coronavirus challenge

Mid Argyll Rotary president John Peace presents the dux medal to Daisy Carter, who is only the second ever pupil to be awarded Lochgilphead primary and secondary dux

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A Mid Argyll head teacher has praised pupils, teachers, parents and carers for their positive attitude during the coronavirus lockdown as they prepare for a return to classrooms.

After a sudden government change in direction it appears that – all being well – pupils will be returning full-time to school in August.

Until Tuesday’s announcement by Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney, schools across Argyll and Bute had been issuing advice on a ‘blended’ return to school involving staggered weeks for different year groups and a mix of home and school learning.

Throughout the pandemic, however, school staff and pupils have continued to work, a fact recognised this week by Lochgilphead Joint Campus as the school prizes were awarded.

Lochgilphead Joint Campus principal Ann Devine said: ‘During these unusual circumstances, we felt it was more important than ever that we celebrate the achievements of our pupils within both the school and the wider community. The sheer number of awards reflects the positive attitude of Lochgilphead High School pupils towards their learning and demonstrates their enthusiasm to embrace opportunities for wider achievement; qualities which they have continued to display during the lockdown period, encouraged as always by our tremendous team of dedicated staff.

‘The unexpected closure of the school presented new challenges to both teachers and pupils with the sudden introduction of online learning and the removal of direct, face to face communication.

‘As always, our pupils demonstrated their characteristic determination, firstly completing outstanding SQA coursework in the senior phase, continuing with classwork and making preparations for the transition to the new timetable.

‘Some of the concerns around online teaching simply have not materialised – for example, the interaction between teachers and pupils has been conducted appropriately and sensitively by the pupils and has, in some cases, enabled stronger relationships between individual pupils and teachers to be forged.

‘We will take the best from this and build on it when we return in August.’

Ms Devine added: ‘We have never been prouder of our pupils, nor more appreciative of the fantastic support of our parent council and our wider parent body.’

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: ‘While there will be a number of things to consider, the health and wellbeing of our pupils and staff will remain the council’s number one priority.

‘In Argyll and Bute Education staff have put a huge amount of effort into preparing for a blended learning approach from August in our schools. We are ready to use this if required should the situation change.

‘Moving forward, we will keep parents and carers updated as to plans for reopening in August.’