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Fears internet issues in Moray schools may affect online learning

Moray Council has been discussing the use of technology in the classroom during coronavirus and beyond.
Moray Council has been discussing the use of technology in the classroom during coronavirus and beyond.

Moray Council has been urged to ensure its school infrastructure is fit for online learning amid concerns it is struggling to cope.

Lessons delivered through internet platforms were commonplace before classes returned following the summer holidays.

However, the services remain under consideration in the event pupils need to self-isolate or classes need to be reduced in size if rules surrounding the coronavirus pandemic change.

Yesterday Forres Academy teacher Susan Slater, who is local branch secretary of the EIS union, warned learning may start to suffer amid concerns the internet bandwidth in some schools is already struggling to cope with demand.

She said: “The reality is that if we move towards classes where individuals need to self-isolate then staff will be responding more and more on digital platforms.

“It will be crucial to resolve these issues otherwise there will be an impact on attainment and the workload of class teachers.”

At yesterday’s meeting of the council’s education, communities and organisational development committee, Phil McDonald, the authority’s head of transformation, said work had begun to examine the causes of the problems.

However, he explained more investigations were necessary before being able to identify the cause – adding he believed schools had sufficient internet bandwidth.

Meanwhile, education bosses revealed online services used during the pandemic were being explored to expand the curriculum offer for pupils in future academic years.

Talks have begun to examine whether subjects can be delivered online in some schools from elsewhere, in instances where specialist staff are not available locally.

Head of education Vivienne Cross said: “Some learners who go to college on a Wednesday or to another school have found that experience quite daunting – some didn’t want to go as a result, so this is an opportunity to get that barrier removed.

“We have already expanded our offer of qualifications, particularly in S4, this year.

“We are working towards having more next year.”

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