It’s that time of year again! The days are slightly cooler (or, in Scotland, a lot rainier), the harvest is coming in, and schools across Scotland are starting back.
In Falkirk, schools go back on Wednesday 18th August, for the first time since we moved beyond Level 0 of COVID-19 restrictions earlier in the month. But some precautions are still in place, with special arrangements in schools – and on top of that, we know a lot of people will be worried about the risks COVID-19 still presents, and the impact of the last 18 months on their children and families.
We want to help as much as we can, and highlight as many available resources in our communities as we can. As a result, our team has put together the list below, with information on support available from our local groups and partners.
(Image caption: on the left, a blackboard with colourful chalk sticks and drawings of flowers, and “Back to School in Falkirk” in white writing. On the right, school children in uniform sitting on a brick wall.)
We hope you find this page useful, and that you and your young ones stay safe and well during this time. We’re finally in the home stretch with COVID-19, and we know we can do this. Remember, we’re always here to help.
School uniforms can be expensive, and they often sell out quickly. This can be especially difficult with still-growing children!
- Free Uniform Event (All Schools)
If you’re in need of a few last minute items or replacements before the schools start back, From Me To You Falkirk’s FREE uniform event is still running on the ground floor of Callendar Square Shopping Centre, High Street, Falkirk, FK1 1UJ.
This event is to clear all excess stock, after an incredible amount of generous donations. The From Me To You team is also still accepting donations, if you have anything spare. All items are free, and include school uniforms, bags and shoes (both generic and branded). The event is open to everyone, with all items free to a good home.
For further information, please view the full web article (linked for your convenience), or pop by Callendar Square – no booking required!
- Uniform Recycling Hub (St Mungo’s High, St Francis Xavier’s and St Andrew’s Primary Schools only)
The Uniform Recycling Hub runs a school uniform recycling service for St Mungo’s High School, St Francis Xavier’s Primary School, and St Andrew’s Primary School in Falkirk. While they have already held their events for 2021, they may be able to source further items, and will be a useful resource for future years.
For further information, please visit the Hub’s Facebook page.
Denny High School Clothing Bank
The clothing bank has been running since 2016 and provides uniforms for Denny High School pupils; anyone is welcome to book an appointment and see if there is anything in stock to help get your child clothed for school. Typically, appointments are available throughout the summer, before the new term starts.
However, while the organiser isn’t taking appointments during term time, families whose children need uniform during term time should reach out, as they will still be able to organise items.
- Falkirk Council Support (Free School Meals and Clothing Grants)
‼️ From August 2021, all pupils attending Primary 1 – 4 are universally entitled to free school meals. ‼️
Falkirk Council provides Free School Meals, and payment towards the cost of school clothing and footwear (clothing grants) to the value of £120 per child/per year.
To be eligible, you should normally be resident in the Falkirk Council area and your child(ren) must attend any primary, special or secondary school managed by Falkirk Council. Payments may also be made where pupils are attending schools outside the area in limited circumstances.
You can check if you and your children are eligible for this support by using the table on the Falkirk Council website.
Please note: If you do not meet the national qualifying criteria for Free School Meals as outlined above but you currently have a live claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction with Falkirk Council, then your children will also qualify for Free School Meals.
Pupils are eligible to apply for Free School Meals in their own right if they are aged 16 – 18 years old and in receipt of one of the benefits listed above.
From August 2021, all pupils attending Primary 1 – 4 are universally entitled to free school meals. However, you should still submit an application for Clothing Grant for these pupils if necessary.
Pupils who turn 16 years old on or before Thursday 30th September will not be eligible for an award of clothing grant but should apply for Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) instead. These pupils are still eligible for free school meals.
To apply for any of these grants, or for further information on the support available through Falkirk Council, please visit their Free School Meals and Clothing Grants page.
To help monitor the impacts of moving beyond Level 0, most restrictions will be similar to before school finished for summer, for up to 6 weeks. This includes:
- face coverings continuing to be worn by staff in communal areas in all schools, and in classrooms by staff and pupils in secondary schools, for up to 6 weeks (unless you are exempt)
- teachers and other staff will physically distance (one metre) from pupils and from other members of staff/adults
- pupils will be asked to take a lateral flow device (LFD) test twice a week (ideally this includes a test 3 – 4 days before going back to school, and one the night before or morning of returning; you can find out more about LFD tests in Young Scot’s FAQ)
As part of the move beyond Level 0, Scottish Government confirmed that adults identified as close contacts of someone testing positive for COVID-19 will no longer be automatically required to self-isolate for 10 days; anyone who is double-vaccinated with at least 2 weeks passed since their second dose, and who has no symptoms will be able to end self-isolation if they return a negative PCR test.
This update on isolation also applies to anyone aged 5 – 17 years old, even if they have not been vaccinated. Children under the age of 5 years old are not required to take a PCR test.
Test and Protect will also implement revised guidance for those under 18.
This means that the blanket isolation of whole classes in schools will no longer happen and a targeted approach, that only identifies children and young people who are higher risk close contacts, will be adopted.
Fewer young people will have to self-isolate, and most will be asked to self-isolate for a much shorter period of time.
Invitations for vaccines are now going out to young people aged 12 – 17 years old with specific health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, with first doses expected to be offered to this group by the end of August.
Additionally, young people aged 16 – 17 years old living in mainland Scotland can now register for their COVID-19 vaccination online. Registration takes 5 – 10 minutes through the NHS Scotland portal (linked for your convenience); you will receive alerts and information digitally (via text or email). (Eligible young people in Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles will be contacted by their health board.)
- Going Back to School After the Summer Break
Young Scot has put together answers for questions young people and their families might have about going to school after the summer break, including what restrictions look like, safety, physical distancing, face coverings, and lots more.
For further information, please view the full Going Back to School guide.
- Other COVID-19 Guides
Young Scot’s other COVID-10 guides for children and young people include their Testing for Young People at School, and their own COVID-19 Hub. They also have a page dedicated to school after summer, for anyone returning or foing to high school for the first time (all linked for your convenience).
- Parent Club
For these last few days of summer holidays (and beyond!), Parent Club has tips and ideas to get your kids out and about and occupied, and connecting with their friends before they all go back to the classroom – and even maybe making some new ones!
If you would like to help us build this page or make us aware of anything you know going on, please contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, you can add your group or organisation’s details to our new online directory of local initiatives (including food banks and other services responding to COVID-19), to help people support their local efforts and find the help they need. You can add your details via the online form (linked for your convenience), or by emailing us.