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Back to school: the challenges of learning after lockdown, and how we can help

11 August 2020

Cat Thomson explains how Enquire, the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning, is helping families as schools re-open

The past five months have brought significant challenges for parents and carers as they’ve worked to keep their children safe and support their learning at home. It hasn’t always been easy, but schools and families have been doing their best to help children to stay motivated and continue to learn.

As the summer holidays come to an end, the minds of parents and carers will be sharply focused on the start of the new term. Scottish Government guidance is now that schools can reopen from 11 August, with all pupils in school full-time by 18 August at the latest. But there is still some uncertainty about what children’s school days are going to look and feel like.

What is certain is that for every child, school will feel different from how it was before the pandemic. For parents of children who need extra support with their learning this can lead to additional worries.

If children were receiving support with their learning before schools closed, they may now need even more or different support to help them cope with any changes to how the school day or building is organised.

Other children who did not previously need additional support may now need it, as the pandemic will have had a significant impact on children’s lives and learning. Children may have been personally affected by coronavirus. They may be frightened of catching the virus themselves and so might feel nervous about going back to school.

Children who struggled to attend or cope with full-time schooling before lockdown may have been happier learning at home and may need a phased return to school. Or they might benefit from a blended learning approach.

We have never been in this situation before so it is difficult to know how children will respond to returning to school. What we do know is that parents and carers of children with additional support needs will have lots of questions about what this “new normal” might mean for their child’s education and support and what they should expect from schools.

How Enquire can help

The good news is that Enquire – the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning – is here to advise families during this transition period. We can help parents and carers feel more informed about their child’s rights, give them the confidence and knowledge they need, and provide them with practical steps for working together with their child’s school to get the right support in place.

We can also explain to professionals what the law says and what it means in practice for them.

Parents, carers and professionals can find out more through:

Contacting our helpline

Throughout lockdown our skilled advisors have been available to answer any questions families have had. In the run-up to schools opening our helpline (0345 123 2303) remains open Monday to Friday 1pm-4.30pm to listen to parents and advise them as best we can.

Visiting our website

We have dedicated Back to School information on the coronavirus pages of our website which we update as new guidance is published by the Scottish Government.

Our website contains local authority information including contact details for local Additional Support for Learning teams if parents need to contact a member of staff before schools open. All our online advice and information is available in accessible formats, including 102 languages.

Click here to visit the Enquire website

Visiting our website for children and young people

Reach is Enquire’s website for children and young people. It can help you understand children’s rights to be supported and involved in decisions so they have an equal chance to flourish in their education.

Hear from school pupils across Scotland sharing what has helped them and get accessible, bitesize advice on additional support for learning.

Click here to visit the Reach website

About the author

Cat Thomson is Manager (Partnerships) at Enquire, the Scottish advice service for ASL

Click to visit Enquire


The website for young people offers advice and support on accessing their rights

Click to visit the website

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