COVID-19 and the re-opening of schools

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) and the Learned Societies’ Group on Scottish STEM Education (LSG) prepared a joint submission to Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee’s evidence session with Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney on COVID-19 and the re-opening of schools, which took place on Friday, 12 June 2020.

In addition to the re-opening of schools, the Committee considered the impacts of lockdown on vulnerable children as well as the replacement of the 2020 exam diet and its impacts on learning and assessment over the next academic year.

Among the issues identified by the joint submission are the logistical challenges of re-opening schools post-pandemic; the delivery of practical laboratory work in the context of social distancing; the impacts of disrupted schooling and digital learning on vulnerable children; and the risk of unconscious bias in alternative assessment methods.

Paper Summary

Through its Education Committee and the recently established Post-COVID-19 Futures Commission, the RSE, as Scotland’s National Academy, is well placed to draw upon a wide range of public, private, and third sector expertise and practitioner experience to support Scotland’s education system in recovering from COVID-19.

The points we make below are informed by initial thinking we have undertaken in this area and which we have fed into the Scottish Government. We look forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee. The RSE is also a member of the Learned Societies’ Group on Scottish STEM Education (LSG).

The LSG’s constituent learned societies and professional associations have been active in supporting remote learning and in monitoring reported impacts of the lockdown on education. In addition to this joint submission, the LSG has also submitted as evidence a letter sent to Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Education Recovery Group regarding the need for a reduction in examinable course content for 2020–2021.