Muthill Primary School – Parent Council Meeting
Wednesday 4 November 2020 – remote meeting via Teams
Attendees: Curstaidh Robertson (CR), Anna Wilson (AW), Claire Scott (CS), Fiona Cannon (FC), Rachel Bell (RBe), Chris Flower (CF), Richard Boddy (RB), Nicki Sutcliffe (NS), Keri Reid (KR), Emma Hepburn (EH), Keri Reid (KR), Vivienne Whyte (VW)
Apologies: Fiona Kimber, Lisa Kelly
Curstaidh opened the meeting and welcomed everyone she then gave the apologies as noted above.
Previous Minutes and action points update
CR responded to Perth Theatre and virtual panto now booked.
KR has ordered the graphic novels.
· COVID 19 Update
Ø New Scottish Government guidance came into play from Monday – 5 levels – (PKC currently at level 2) – updated guidance for schools – 2m distancing absolutely key in reducing transmission risks – face coverings to be worn whenever this cannot be maintained (regardless of whether just for a couple of seconds or longer) – face coverings to be worn by staff in communal areas / classrooms etc as appropriate to guidance (as per public health measures) – face coverings to be worn by parents / carers at drop-off & pick-up – some re-arrangement of classrooms to facilitate staff to maintain 2m distance where they can (experience of outbreaks in primary schools is that whole classes would self-isolate together if there were positive cases) – staff will discuss contingency measures for any home learning circumstances during November In-Service Days next week.
Ø PE will now ultimately be able to take place inside for all but level 4 schools – PKC are risk assessing all indoor venues used by schools – PE has to continue outside until this process has been completed and we receive a further update – we continue to plan outside activities as much as possible and are planning for continued work towards our next Eco Flag – we cannot run mixed-stage committees currently but plan to involve all classes in this work, with different groups taking a lead on different aspects.
Ø School meals now include some hot options – these seem to be more popular with pupils – these are served in disposable containers in the classrooms although the containers can be run through the dishwasher to sterilise them and re-used – schools are requested to use Dining Halls again where they can, but this very much depends on school size, circumstance and cleaning arrangements and is not suitable for our school at this time.
Ø A new school Risk Assessment will be produced by PKC for us to personalise later this week – it will be available to share with parents / carers once it has gone through the final PKC checking procedure – it will be an ever-evolving / changing document to respond to the ongoing COVID 19 situation.
· Tempest Photographs
Ø Tempest advised by PKC that photographs could not take place (unnecessary visitors into school) in their schools – we could look at taking photographs ourselves if that would be welcomed – or can wait to assess the ongoing picture and whether they might be possible later in the school year.
· Virtual Assemblies
Ø Trialled last week using Teams to share information regarding Dyslexia Awareness Week – went well – allows class groups to see each other and the presenter (me) as well as any presentations, videos etc. – plan to use this method for classes to share their learning (including Eco Flag work) and to share Stars of the Week in a whole school venue – next virtual assembly next Tuesday.
· Houses / House Captains
Ø Discussions with current P7s and House / Vice Captains agreed – current task to be creative in their ideas for House activities to generate house points (competitions / virtual quizzes / sports events etc) bearing in mind that we currently have to gauge activities to 3 different age groups.
Would the Parent Council be able to source some badges again please? CR to action
· Communication / Seesaw
Ø Much confusion and extreme frustration around this – mixed messages coming from different schools / nurseries
Ø Muthill in a slightly unique position as we were just starting on this course of action when issues came to light
Ø Use of Seesaw serves a number of purposes for us at Muthill – communication pathways with parents / carers (individually / class group) – replaces paper Learning Journal Journeys & allows parents / carers involvement in ongoing class work / activities – allows pupils to share their chosen learning and reflections with their parents / carers – provides a platform for sharing homework and home learning (paid version allows families to photograph an share home learning activities with teachers).
Ø Initial consent letter went out – PKC were alerted of this – coincided with a change in legislation regarding where data can be stored (free version stores data in the US – this is no longer legal – PKC misunderstood and thought we were looking at using the free version) – there was also some general concern over Brexit – we were told not to proceed until this was sorted out.
Ø PKC allocated a working group to address concerns – after a lot of work for them and us: paid version is GPDR compliant – data is held in the UK – update yesterday that things are looking positive post-December / Brexit so we can now move forwards.
Ø New consent form will need to be completed for all pupils – this will also state that parents / carers can withdraw their consent at any time by contacting the school – if a parent/carer does not wish to consent, their child will continue with a paper-based Learning Journey Journal, communications will need to take place via phone etc and any activities / home learning will need to be provided via different means.
Ø Once we have consent, parents / carers will be provided with a QR code & internet link to allow them access to their child’s account.
Ø Staff will recommence activities to teach pupils how to use Seesaw.
Ø Staff will take time during November In-Service to become familiar with the capabilities of Seesaw (cover time had been allocated from the AST but we were unable to use it); we will also explore how it can be used as part of the home learning package and will communicate this with parents / carers.
Ø Parent Consultations – Teams / a few appointments by telephone – thank you to parents / carers who responded – all parents / carers have been allocated an appointment time – appointment times and the meeting link will be sent out at the end of this week (not a 5-minute job!) – hopefully process will run smoothly!
· Plans for Christmas
Ø Virtual class performances (play / poem / music etc) that can be filmed and shared on a private Vimeo link
Ø Class Christmas craft activities
Ø Class parties & Christmas film
Ø Friday 11th December 2020 – Save the Children Christmas Jumper Day
Ø Tuesday 15th December 2020 – Perth Theatre virtual pantomime “Oh Yes We Are!”
Ø Thursday 17th December 2020 – Christmas Lunch
Ø Muthill Community Choir Christmas recording – to involve pupils – recordings made virtually / socially distanced outside
Audit is still ongoing, update should be available on this by end of year. Nicki is currently looking at bank account options as TSB branch will be closing next year. Currently considering a bank that offers services via Post Office – RBS, Bank of Scotland or Clydesdale. Clydesdale looking like the best option. Curstaidh mentioned that the ability to deposit and transact business in the village would be great. Nicki would welcome any thoughts or suggestions on bank account options. There has been no movement on account since last meeting. Nicki also looking at fundraising options and will register as main contact for Easyfundraising. Also looking at info from Curstaidh on Amazon Smile. Nicki will also look at promoting these via website to encourage more parents to sign up. Fiona mentioned sometimes people are reticent to sign up as they feel there is a catch, she is happy to write a testimony if that would be helpful. NS to action
Grant Applications from Staff
None received since last meeting.
Curstaidh gave the following update - The saga continues! I have sent on the reply from PKC stating we have no community support which to be honest is just laughable. We have a petition which gathered nearly 200 signatures in 1 week. I have also had several more reports of near incidents this week with unsafe parking with families forced into the road, cars driving on pavements and yet another near miss on the side road. PKC seem to want to wait until an accident occurs to do anything to help. John Nicholson MP has asked PKC to look again. The PA and Strathearn Herald are keen to do another piece for us to spread the word. Muthill Kiddy Club is continuing to support our campaign and Busy Bees have also written an email in support. A parent suggested that the pavement might not be the way forward and pupils would be better using the other road if it was effectively pedestrianised although it is on a blind bend and also has no pavement, especially as pupils must enter at the front of the school. I am keen to say we aren’t set on any particular way forward but we must have a safe route for our children to get to school. Crieff now has another crossing a few yards along from the existing one and we still don’t have a single safe crossing on a very busy route. CR to progress media coverage.
Discussion of the best way forward followed and the followed action points were agreed.
Fiona offered to ask Muthill Village Trust to write a letter of community support. FC to action
Chris suggested building the record of incidents into a log document which can be presented to the council and also providing a risk assessment for the council. Keri suggested this should be done using PKC documentation. Chris happy to take this on. CF and RBe to discuss and action – update since meeting – CF and RBe are now due to meet virtually next week.
Vivienne suggested we then take the incident log and risk assessment to the top of the council for best chance to action.
The council referenced a meeting in their letter to discuss issues which neither Rachel nor Curstaidh were aware of. It was agreed we should push for a meeting ideally at drop off time so the council representative can see the issues. RBe to action
Anna shared with the meeting a frustration much of the parent body have about a lack of communication. She made the point that, as members of the parent council, we see the staff at these meetings and are in the loop about much of what is happening in school but that this isn’t the case for the vast majority of parents. Some parents have never seen Mr Boddy and, despite plans to rotate those welcoming children in the mornings, the parents dropping off at the back door have only seen Mrs Hendry since the start of term (absolutely no offence to Mrs H here!). Anna acknowledged that this is a time of uncertainty. We are all so isolated from staff and school because of the guidelines and as such parents would welcome even more communication then usual from the school to ensure there is a strong link there. Now more than ever it is important that parents are “taken on the journey” with the school as it is so easy for them to be left behind, with no meaningful knowledge about what is happening in school. There is much goodwill amongst the parent body and everyone wants to be part of one big team.
Rachel acknowledged the point about taking parents on the journey but has also been trying to strike the right balance and not flood parents with emails from school. The frustration around communication was also acknowledged and every effort will be made to get SeeSaw up and running as soon as possible. As previously mentioned the delay with SeeSaw has been completely outwith the school’s control. Claire mentioned that St Doms do an excellent Friday newsletter which works very well at keeping parents in the loop, she will forward a copy to Rachel. Curstaidh mentioned the newsletter from the High School which has been circulated before, copy to be sent to Rachel. Rachel agreed this was a good idea and, in the short term, will produce a weekly newsletter. Vivienne suggested using a template style set up so that we can look for regular info e.g. star of the week. It was also suggested that a link to homework via the website would be a good addition to the newsletter. CS, CR and RBe to action – Update since meeting RB will produce a weekly newsletter similar to that from St Doms – 1st one will go out prior to InService – then on Fridays. Photos / updates / homework will be covered via website & Seesaw. All parents should be invited to Parent Council meetings – an email can go out from the school office for future meetings - they also have access to minutes on website which will be promoted on the newsletter.
Anna stressed that we’re all in this together and with the situation changing so quickly parents need info and reminders regularly so we can, in turn, support the school, again pulling together as one team.
Outdoor Learning/Forest School
Vivienne asked if Muthill had considered looking at Forest School learning. Braco offer this and Madderty offer some aspects of den building etc due to their extensive grounds. Rachel has looked into this and found that there are significant training and cost implications. She also pointed out that our setting would not lend itself to this type of learning quite as well as the other schools mentioned. She also said that we need to consider what our school’s USPs are and that if we were to focus on this we would have to lose something else as there simply isn’t room to do everything. It’s certainly possible to take aspects of the Forest School ethos and try to work it into outdoor learning. Anna mentioned that prior to Covid we were hoping to take advantage of many opportunities with Glenalmond, one of which was Forest School learning, hopefully in the future we should be able to pick this back up again.
Some discussion then followed around outdoor learning and the expectations of the parents - that there would be a lot of this as a result of communication from the school at the start of term and the focus on sourcing waterproofs etc. Some parents are disgruntled that they sourced waterproofs as requested and they don’t seem to be being used. Emma spoke about the constraints on staff and the very limited windows of opportunity to get her class outside. Rachel mentioned that the waterproofs have been used. Fiona made the point that it wasn’t so much that parents were expecting their children to be outside rather that they had been told this would happen and had received no communication to the contrary. Rachel said she would include info in the newsletter on outdoor learning and use of waterproofs. RBe to action.
Keri said she was very happy to look at pulling together info for the staff on structured “learning outdoors” activities and said it was important to differentiate between this type of learning and the Forest School type of education. Learning outdoors has many documented benefits and should be easily achievable in our setting. Learning outdoors needs to be planned with a specific focus so it is taking planned learning outside and taking advantage of the outdoor environment to support and enhance that learning. KR to action
Curstaidh has entries and will circulate on PC whatsapp so they can be judged. If anyone is going shopping please let Curstaidh know as we need prizes for the competition. ALL
Curstaidh gave the following update - The website is up and running. Thank you to all the staff members who have all logged in and had a wee go at posting. We now just need content. Would the classes be able to share some of the work they have been doing? It can be used by ‘posting’ any relevant information. I know that Mrs Hendry updates Twitter and it would be great if the school could add updates and reminders if someone was willing- it is easy and we can do a step by step guide if necessary but unless content is published regularly, a static page is fairly useless which is a real shame as it should be a really useful tool. If anyone is interested or needs further help, please let me know. We now have updated the ‘Our School’ page with a wee paragraph and photo of our teachers which looks great. Could RB ask for the same from Mr & Mrs Hendry, Mrs Jarvie, Mrs Wright, Mrs Webster and Mrs Garrow? Also if I have missed anyone else. Mrs Bell is also missing. RBe to action missing bios.
Rachel suggested that the staff look at posting on the website during in-service days next week. RBe to action – Update since meeting - RBe would appreciate further discussion with GS / CR (perhaps a Teams meeting to include RB & EH too as they were taking a lead?) to clarify website feeds into Twitter / Facebook etc)
Curstaidh suggested we proceed with the Christmas Hamper as we have been offered one again this year, she asked Nicki to investigate ways of taking the money online. NS to action
From last meeting - NS and CF to research lottery/50:50 options
Anna asked if P1/2 could be given access to the trim trail now and Rachel said that with the latest guidelines it should now be possible for them to use it. School to action. Update since meeting - RBe has referred to COVID-19 guidance and school still needs to ensure only one class group using on any given day. RBe is currently reviewing school timetables for breaktimes etc and it looks likely each class will take a turn for a week on a 3-weekly cycle to meet the guidance for school settings.
Anna asked what guidelines were in place around children getting access to water bottles during the day. Rachel and Emma confirmed that the children have access to them throughout the day and are encouraged to drink from them regularly.
Fiona raised Discipline Policy as an ongoing issue. All classes have completed class charters as this is most relevant to current circumstances. Rachel agreed that it is still on the agenda to be updated and is still ongoing – COVID-19 has and will continue to impact on how consultations will take place with pupils and what the final document might look like (it will be a Relationships rather than a Discipline Policy & linked to the UNCRC). RBe to update.
Curstaidh had received a number of queries as to why homework has not been issued in all classes. Some discussion followed and it was apparent that some staff were unaware they could now send homework out in paper form as initially they had been told they couldn’t due to following COVID-19 guidance. Paper methods have recently (updated guidance last week) been identified as less risky provided appropriate sanitising and hygiene guidance is followed. It was agreed that in the short term spelling and maths homework should be sent home for P567s until SeeSaw is up and running. Methods were discussed and it was agreed that paper was an option but that the staff could also utilise the website which would also build awareness of it. Homework and links to relevant learning games/videos could be placed within each classroom on the website for parents to utilise. School to action
Next Meeting – Date set as Wednesday 2 December 2020 at 7pm on Teams