HOME learning services are being accessed hundreds of thousands of times in Argyll and Bute – and processes are in place to ensure all school pupils are using them.

That was the assurance given to a councillor at the authority’s business continuity committee meeting on Thursday, May 14.

Councillor Lorna Douglas also sought and received details of how Argyll and Bute Council is looking after the mental health of its educational staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A report for the meeting showed that the council’s online learning portals had received more than 300,000 hits during only five days in March after schools closed on Friday, March 20.

The learning facilities are hosted on sites such as Google Classroom, Glow and Show My Homework.

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Councillor Douglas, who works as a teacher when not fulfilling her duties as a representative of the Helensburgh Central ward, said: “I realise this is a really difficult time, but when I read through the report it is good to see all the things that are going on.

“However, I have two questions. The first is that when you look at the graphs, I was pleased to see that use of the likes of Glow, Google Classroom and Show My Homework have gone up.

“But what does it actually tell us? To me it shows there are more people using computers, but there is concern over a few local authorities that pupils are not doing anything.

“Are pupils using the application and then immediately coming back off it? It is not showing if there is any working going out and coming back.

“My second question is to do with health and wellbeing – how are we measuring those among our staff?”

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Louise Connor, education manager with the council, said that schools oversaw whether pupils were completing work allocated via the online resources.

She added: “At secondary school it is managed by the principal teacher, feeding up to the depute head teacher and then the head teacher.

“They know regularly to audit the interaction of young people in their classes.

“In primary school, the head teacher will regularly talk with class teachers and if a child is not interacting, they have processes in place for contacting them asking if there are any issues.

“Could these be with technology, or is the pupil unwell? The technology has to be managed in that way, but the data is just the hits on to the applications.

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“On health and wellbeing, we have fortnightly meetings set up with cluster head teachers and secondary head teachers and wellbeing is discussed.

“We also have our corporate website giving details of services that staff can access.

“Anything that is said is acted upon and we take our staff’s health and wellbeing very seriously.”

Councillor Douglas then said: “It is difficult to quantify and measure how productive or successful remote learning is, but it is good to have that clarified.

“If we are going into a blended approach then the accessibility of young people’s learning has to be key.

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“I am happy to hear that at least every two weeks, there is some way that health and wellbeing is being looked after.

“The authority that I work in sends an email which we have to fill in every day, asking if our wellbeing is good, about our home circumstances and what we are capable of doing.”

Ms Connor added: “We have just concluded questionnaires to parents around remote learning, which ask how often their child is accessing the resources.

“These will show how parents are coping at home and see if there is any further support we can give.”

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