A REGION which is home to some of Scotland's top performing state schools has had a shake-up after parents lodged complaints about a postcode lottery of live online teaching.

Investigations were launched last week after the online remote teaching time that existed within the East Dunbartonshire Council area varied between over 50 minutes and a structured four-and-a-half hours a day.

Now moves have been made to ensure there is consistency at some of the major schools in East Dunbartonshire which are being introduced with one school now falling in line with others.

Guidance on remote learning by Education Scotland, the Scottish Government schooling improvement agency, states that children and young people are "entitled" to "a balance of live learning and independent activity".

But parents in East Dunbartonshire had raised concerns at an "unacceptable" disparity on the amount of online teaching that had emerged.

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Since remote learning kicked in on January 11, Lenzie Academy, ranked in the top 20 top-performing schools in a Times league table, were getting two, 25 minute live lessons with parents told that the approach "ensures that if a family has three children in Lenzie Academy, all in different years, they can access a computer at the appropriate time for them and there is no clash".

For many pupils live lessons were accompanied with offline work with parents and pupils reporting it is not keeping them occupied takes between 15m and 30m to complete.

Parents were also told by the school that the timings took into account that many parents and carers would be working from home and may also need access to a computer.

One-and-a-half miles away at St Ninian's High School, the Roman Catholic co-educational comprehensive secondary school, in Kirkintilloch, parents said their children were getting three structured 90 minute online sessions. And it was a similar story at other schools, where the offering was a mix of live lessons and pre-recorded videos with work to go with it.

Angry discussions on online forums led to the complaints within the local authority.


Now it has been confirmed that the Lenzie Academy timetable has been changed to become "more structured" and will be in line with other schools from Monday.

The Herald understands that Quality Improvement Officers and Education Officers had been collating all feedback within East Dunbartonshire to identify what the current online provision does not provide.

It comes after Rona Mackay the MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden met with East Dunbartonshire Council officers to discuss parents' concerns.

Children at Lenzie Academy were told of the changes at assemblies on Thursday morning in advance of being brought in from February 1.

The new timetable will give online learning blocks covering four-and-a-half hours a day mixing live lessons, narrated powerpoints, video lessons and quizzes.

In a letter to parents, the head teacher said: "Teachers will devise directed learning blocks for their own classes. This means that teachers have a responsibility to plan and direct the learning approaches that they consider most appropriate for their classes and they can be online to respond to pupil questions."

READ MORE: Scotland's remote learning postcode lottery: Just one in three councils say all their schools have daily live teaching

A letter from Ms Mackay's office to some concerned parents said: "First and foremost, Rona conveyed to the council how urgent and serious this matter is for pupils at the school.

"We were assured that... the council have relayed all initial feedback and complaints regarding the online provision to the school. As a result, there was a clear feeling we would expect this to be acted upon as quickly as possible.

"The overarching point is the clear lack of parity and provision of online learning being offered by the school.

"As was made clear, Rona was deeply concerned to hear of the inequity of provision within Lenzie Academy as compared to other schools both within her constituency but wider throughout East Dunbartonshire. We received assurances that these discrepancies between provision has been highlighted to the school from both the council and, of course, by parents and carers.

"Rona and the council were in agreement that the communication from the school in regards to their model of online learning should have been, in one regard, more thorough, clear and transparent to parents and pupils. It is unacceptable that parents and pupils feel shut out from the process and unable to voice their concerns to enact change."

Ann Davie, East Dunbartonshire Council's deputy chief executive responsible for education said:"There is no minimum amount of live online learning stipulated by the authority, remote learning will vary depending on the age and stage of each child and the context of their school. The Quality Improvement Team has been working with all schools to evaluate the remote learning programme and good practice is being shared. Schools will make changes and adaptations to the provision taking account of feedback from pupils, parents and staff."