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Self-isolating kids? Don’t panic – the new Highland Online Primary School has digital lessons ready to go

Highland Online Primary School
Highland Online Primary School launches today to support self-isolating pupils. Picture by Shutterstock

Every parent understands the challenges of home schooling and self-isolating. If your family got the dreaded double line – or the ping – Highland Online Primary School is here to help.

The brand new resource launched yesterday for pupils in Primary 4 to Primary 7. Developed in collaboration with parents, it promises to deliver fun, independent, online learning.

Highland Online Primary School (HOPS) doesn’t replace school-based learning. Your child’s class teacher will still be on-hand to teach and support all pupils. However, with more and more children having to self-isolate, HOPS is there to take some of the home schooling heat.

Because the system is based on independent learning, children can log on and work their way through a variety of themed activities without constant supervision.

It also doesn’t tie kids to screens – many of the resources include offline activities like bird watching and art journalling.

Focused, targeted – and fun

“We asked ourselves, can we bring to life things that are happening in the world right now, link that to skills-based learning and allow pupils to access it independently without their parents always looking over their shoulder?” explains Tania Mackie, who developed the resource with colleague Robert Quigley.

Highland Online Primary School
A sample timetable from HOPS.

Tania and Robert lead the Highland Council’s digital education programme but say they are “teachers and always will be.” Their conversations with schools and parents across Highland inspired them to create the HOPS resource.

“It’s a fine art to deliver a lesson in class, but even more so to also support pupils who are self isolating at home,” says Tania. “We know that Covid has increased the workload for teaching staff, so we considered how we can help kids at home. Highland Online Primary School aims to provide support in a focused and targeted way. It should be fun, too!”

Each timetable includes an active slot, numeracy, literacy and skill-based lessons linking to all areas of the curriculum. Wellbeing is a theme that runs throughout, and there’s a Friday podcast with topics like ‘What makes you happy?’

‘It’s a fantastic tool’

The Highland Online Primary School is deliberately aimed at pupils in Primary 4-7, on the basis that younger kids will have more play-based learning and secondary pupils have a more formal curriculum to follow and are used to working independently, online. HOPS will help address the gap for P4-7.

For older and younger pupils, there’s a range of tools and resources on the Highland Schools Digital Hub, including Google Classroom, eSgoil and SCHOLAR.

We got insight into the development of the tool and it’s so simple and child-friendly.”

The council consulted parent groups in the development of HOPS, which Highland Parent Council Partnership chairman Jason Hasson says is a “fantastic tool”.

“The council approached us with the idea and we had the opportunity to feed back our thoughts,” says Jason. “I think there’s more pressure on parents during home schooling than they thought. We got insight into the development of the tool and it’s so simple and child-friendly.

“It enhances what’s being done in school already but it doesn’t replace it. It’s something extra to support kids and their parents – and every little helps, as they say.”

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