Renfrewshire Council

Last reviewed: 17:30, 10 July 2020

Returning to schools and nurseries

Updates and information on how our schools and nurseries will reopen, and how children and young people will return or start nursery or school.

On this page:


Timing and learning model

Safety measures and arrangements

Transition support

Learning and welfare

Teaching, schools and early years staff


Timing and learning model


Timetable for schools and nurseries reopening

The current school term ended on Friday 26 June. Renfrewshire pupils will return from Wednesday 12 August. Teachers and support staff will return from Monday 10 August. The current intention of the Scottish Government is that all schools will return full-time from August, should the scientific advice around Covid19 deem it safe to do so. Our Director of Children's Services Steven Quinn wrote to parents on Wednesday 24 June to confirm this.

Blended learning - contingency plan

It is expected schools and nurseries will return to a normal full-time schedule from August should it be judged safe to do so. However if not, the alternative is a model of blended learning - which is based around physical distancing and reduced class sizes, and would see pupils attend school or nursery on some days and learn at home on others.

Your child's school will have written to you on Monday 22 June with details of what your child's timetable would look like under a blended learning model. That model was based on the national guidance we were being asked to work to at the time. It should now be treated as our contingency plan - it will only be needed if the national advice in August is it isn't safe for children to return full-time.

Please note the Scottish Government have since updated their guidance to confirm that physical distancing is no longer required for those under 12 years - if that was to remain the case blended learning would not apply to nurseries and primary schools.

For your info, the contingency plan we had previously set out was as follows:

Early-learning centres and classes - A blended learning model for early years would see council-run nurseries offer either half days or some full day placements. Private partner providers will be in touch with parents directly to offer details of what provision they are able to offer. We will work with our partners to support them where possible.

Primary Schools - Under blended learning, half the children would come into school on a Monday and Tuesday and the other half would attend on a Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays would be used for enhanced cleaning and to allow all teachers to have their contractual non-class-contact time to prepare lessons and support pupils with remote learning.  

Secondary Schools - Pupils would have five days of face-to-face teaching across each two-week period. The pattern of days that pupils would attend would vary across each secondary school, as each has different layouts - but all young people would have 10 blocks of two-and-a-half hours face-to-face teaching each fortnight.

Under blended learning, starting and finishing times would be staggered to allow children to arrive and leave safely at the beginning and end of the day. Schools days would run approximately from 9am until 3pm.

More details on how we devised our blended learning contingency plan are available in our Build Back Better education recovery plan documents - which you can see under the Related Documents tab on this webpage.

We know this model could be tricky for families with siblings who attend the same school but are in different year groups, or have siblings who attend different schools but schools have ensured they would be in school at the same time as much as possible. We also know school transport could be a challenge and are working with our transport providers to find solutions to that.

With smaller class sizes in almost all cases, teachers and support staff would have the opportunity to work more intensely with children and to set appropriate tasks to be done at home. There would be a level of remote teaching support for pupils on the days they not in school, although this would not necessarily be from their class teacher, who would be in school teaching other pupils. Greater detail of how this would work in practice will be given - if required - by your child's school when they return in August.

Working parents and carers

Please visit our childcare page for more information on supporting working parents and carers.

Safety measures and arrangements


How physical distancing would work in schools

Physical distancing is no longer required for children under 12 years. If physical distancing is required in August for older children, we will do so in line with government guidance. We would also apply the lessons we have learned from doing so successfully in the childcare hubs for the children of key workers since March.

In developing blended-learning timetables, each school had to consider how to maximise the amount of time in school, provide the broadest range of subjects for each young person, and how to best use classroom space and minimise movement between classes.

Our plans include maximising use of non-classroom space to safely accommodate as many pupils as possible. We appreciate the layout of every school is different and we gave head teachers and heads of centres flexibility to develop solutions tailored to them

There is a balance to strike between safety and wellbeing - it is important our schools would continue to feel natural and normal for pupils when they return. We will be working with unions to ensure staff are comfortable with the measures being put in place to protect them. As with everything we do, safety will be our priority.

Cleaning and hygiene in schools and nurseries

The Scottish Government guidelines recommend regular and enhanced cleaning of surfaces and we are already looking at how to expand the existing school cleaning regime to ensure we can do that across all schools and nurseries. Regular hand washing will continue to be crucial and teachers will support pupils to follow the advice on this. We will learn from the practice that is now standard in our childcare hubs.

High-risk pupils, parents and carers, and staff

The scientific consensus is that Covid-19 has a much less severe impact on children than it does on adults. However we appreciate there will be pupils and staff with medical conditions who will be more at-risk than others, as well as pupils who share homes with high-risk individuals. Decisions over how they return to school and when will be based on the circumstances of those individuals and on the government guidance at the time. If you have any specific concerns, we would suggest you refer to the health advice in the first instance, but you can also speak to your head teacher to see how best we can support.

Absences based on shielding or safety concerns for pupils, parents and carers

The safety our pupils and staff is our biggest priority - we wouldn't ask pupils to attend school if we weren't confident we were doing all we could to make it safe. Parents have a legal duty to ensure their child receives an education - that can happen in school or not. We think the best place for children to be educated is in school but we trust parents to make the decision they think best. Your head teacher will be happy to talk through any concerns to see how best they can help.

Test and Protect for pupils and staff in schools and nurseries

The Scottish Government has made testing available for anyone over the age of five who shows symptoms and we would urge all residents to get themselves or their child tested if there is reason to do so. The Test and Protect strategy is there to stop the spread of the virus and it's important everyone follows that. As it stands, the national guidelines would mean any pupils in close contact with someone testing positive for Covid19 would need to self-isolate for 14 days. One benefit to keeping pupils in small groups means if one tests positive the number who need to self-isolate is small.

Transition support


Transition support for pupils starting P1 or S1 in August

We appreciate starting P1 or moving up to high school is a big moment for parents and pupils and we are doing all we can to help it go smoothly. The government guidance allows us to support that transition before the summer. Pupils starting P1 or S1 were able to visit their new schools during June to get to know their new school and teachers as well as meet new people and make new friends.

In the meantime, our best advice would be for you and your child to look forward to a new challenge and a new environment, and if you need any additional support please get in touch with your child's school.

Online resources for transitions

In line with Scottish Government's route map to reopen schools and nurseries, transition support will be made available, however this might not look like it normally does in previous years. We will keep you updated as the guidance develops.

There are a few resources online that you may find useful.

For all ages

Starting P1

Moving from P7 to S1:

Leaving high school:

Learning and welfare


Learning support for nursery children and pupils

We appreciate many parents will be worried about the impact of lockdown on their child's education. Learning at home was never going to replicate learning in school. When schools return, our teachers will do what teachers are best at - they will assess where the pupils are at and work out the best way to help them. If extra support is needed, we will make sure it is in place.

But it's important to remember the curriculum is about more than academic learning - social interaction is a massive part of school too, and children will have missed that over recent months. Getting them back into school is about wellbeing as well as attainment. It's important our schools are places where children can thrive and flourish - that will be key to allow them to learn.

Exams and qualifications support for S4, S5 and S6 pupils

Please visit our exams and qualifications webpage for more information on supporting children and young people with their national qualifications.

Wellbeing support for nursery children and pupils

We of course understand months of lockdown will not have been easy for children of any age and that they will have missed social interaction. Pupil welfare is of paramount importance to us and, as ever, our staff will have a key role to play in that.

For any pupils who are experiencing difficulties, most schools - including all our secondary schools - have access to trained counsellors, who will be able to support. If any parents have specific concerns we would encourage you to speak to your head teacher, who can help put appropriate support in place. For more information, about children's wellbeing, see our mental health and well-being guide.

Additional Support Needs (ASN) support for nursery children and pupils

It is recognised that nurturing wellbeing will be an important requirement for all children and young people as they return to school in August. Enhanced arrangements for those with additional support needs will be established in each school and early years centre. This will further support children to make the move back to school in as successful and positive a way as possible.    
Special consideration will be given to children and young people needing specialist support in Riverbrae and Mary Russell schools or in mainstream settings. Staff will work with families to ensure this support is appropriate. 

Parental concerns on pupils moving into the next year of schooling

There will be no need for children or young people to repeat a full school year. We know learning at home is not the same as learning at school, but that only started in late-March - meaning pupils had already completed more than three-quarters of the school year. We will be supporting all children and young people back into school, but would reiterate that education is also about social interaction, not just learning.

Teaching, schools and early years staff


Information for teaching, schools and early years staff

We have a dedicated page with information and updates for our teaching, schools and early years staff