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Black Isle Festival Health and Nature Walks Killearnan

Welcome to the Killearnan, Milton of Redcastle Walk with Mr F. Fraser. August 1st

(Picture of village printed on leaflet)

Steeped in history – from its castle, church, old quarry, springwell to its ancient crannog  - the village of Milton, beside the beautiful Beauly Firth, now has a lovely community garden and picnic area.

The Route:

Outward:- From the Church-hall Car park, to the quarry path. Along the quarry path, past the Rivulet House and Top Street to the Milton road. A rest at the garden and picnic area. Optional walk in the Castle Gardens.

Return:  along the single track main road, up to the churchyard and back to the car park.

General Advice

Covid Regulations: Please give name and telephone number to the CC guide.

There are no toilet facilities en route.

Dogs must be kept on a lead.

Safety Advice

Most of the route is ‘well trodden’.  Walk single file along the downhill Quarry path.

Watch out for traffic on the single track road at Milton and from Milton to the Church

Slight gradient on the road to the church. The Castle path is quite steep.


Interesting Features on the Way.

Large mystery memorial stone opposite the church with the initials MCK and nothing more.

Look from the path into the disused quarry. In 18th Centuary, Rev Kennedy held communion services here. They set up a trestle table approx 50ft long. The table cloth is kept at the hall.


The Pier. A railway line carrying stone from the quarry ran along the pier. It was transported from there in flat bottom boats and used in the construction of Telford’s Caledonian Canal.

The local militia of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries used the end of the pier for rifle practice across the Firth.

Visible from the shore are the ruins of the ancient crannog.

In the church yard, there is a Commonwealth Grave marking the resting place of a local soldier who gave his life for his country  .

Welcome to the Killearnan Black Isle Railway Walk. July 31st

A Ben class engine.    (Picture of engine printed on Leaflet)

The Route.      There are three ‘legs’ of the walk

1          Linnie Steading to the A832 Crossing point

2          A832 Crossing Point, past the Railway Crossing Cottages to the old road into the sidings.

3          Along the ‘Nansen Trust Nature Walk into Redcastle Station



Covid Regulation. Please give name and telephone number to the guide.


The Toilet facility is a porterloo at the Station

Refreshments and seats are available at the Station.

Dogs must be kept on a lead.

Walkers do not have access to the inside of the station building (Covid Restrictions)

If anyone does not wish to return via the railway walk back to their car at the steading a lift will be available.

Safety Advice  1. Linnie Steading to A832 crossing point.

This part of the walk leads along a raised railway embankment. It is not a well worn path and there are some parts a little rough underfoot.

Walkers will be ushered across the main road and access the second leg via a newly erected gate. There is a short incline onto the railway line.

Interesting features : Meet J Kernahan,“The Black Isle Railway”, at Redcastle Station

1          First leg

A Victorian stone arch.  Damage still visible from a derailment during WW2.  Wild flowers: harebells, in particular. Grazing cattle, sheep and horses.

2          Second Leg

About 40 metres along there is a brick arch, a culvert to carry water. A crossing keeper lived at the crossing cottages until 1950. He had to open and shut the two gates to allow passage for vehicles and animals.  A Free-church minister was injured by a train in 1950 because the gates were left open.


3. The Station itself. Closed in 1960, it is last station left intact on the old line from Muir of Ord to Fortrose. There was much activity during WW2 supplying ammunition, bombs and other weaponry to airfields round the Moray Firth. A huge bomb which probably sank the “Scharnhorst” was delivered to Redcastle Station.

Nature Walk – plants and vegetables tended by the Nansen trust, plus a bug hotel.

Draft minutes of the special meeting of Killearnan CC held via Microsoft Teams, July 21st at 7.00pm.


Mr K Mackenzie (Chair), Mr A Mackay (Treasurer), Mrs A Mackay (Secretary), Mr  Mr A Brown, Mr S. Hudson, Cllr G. Adam. Mr A Cameron joined by phone.

Apologies: Cllr A Maclean, Cllr A Mackinnon (vacation), Cllr C. Fraser (vacation)

The Special Meeting was called (1) to discuss Highland Council's response to the CC's objection to a rock concert, with overnight camping,  planned to take place at Linniewood Cottage, July 31st and August 1st  and (2) to give an update on the arrangements for the Black Isle Festival (Health and Nature Walks).


1) Members unanimously object to HC's handling of the Licence Application and to aspects of statements in their reply to the CC’s submission on behalf of residents.

HC:  stated that there had been no objections and that relevant bodies had been consulted.

KCC: the CC  had not been informed of the application and had not been consulted..

HC:  was under no obligation to inform CCs about Licence Applications.

KCC: This contradicts the Scottish Government's statement: “Local Authorities have  statutory oversight of Community Councils and are required by statute to consult CCs about planning applications and licencing matters.”

HC. The Licencing Board – types of applications.

            KCC:  The Highland Licencing Committee Report June 22, prepared by Iain Meredith, indicates several types of licence applications received by HC over the previous 3 months. No application is listed for the event in question.

When was the application evaluated and when was the licence issued?

KCC’s objection to the events raises the following issues.

Noise Disturbance

Health and Safety Regulations Compliance (+Covid Regulations)

Security Arrangements.

Cllr  Gordon Adam will put the concerns discussed to the relevant department. Members thanked Cllr Adam for his support in attending. Cllr Adam had to leave the meeting at approx 7.40 to join another meeting.

Questions in more detail

Noise Disturbance.

During the unauthorised entertainment (unlicenced) music event held at Linniewood Cottage in 2020, amplied sound, along with a firework display, had disturbed the neighbourhood during unsocial hours.  The July 2021 Event advertises, on its website,  continuous music from 1.00pm to 1.00am.  Entertainment venues are required by the Covid Regulations, Level O,  to close at 11.30pm (Curfew-12.midnight).  The subsequent amendment by the Licencing Board for a closure at 11.00pm still has implications where Noise Pollution Regulations are concerned.  See( i)

Will the Highland Council be monitoring the noise levels across a radius of at least one mile, affecting households in the neighbourhood?

Health and Safety

HC stated that the site will include a first aid station.

Will the Highland Council check the number and credentials of those in charge of the first-aid station? See (ii)


Road. The HC identifies a local Road Management Company who ‘will now be managing the event’. A 30 mph limit will be in place on the A832 before and after the entrance to the site.

Will speed cameras be put in place to monitor motorists’ speed. Will penalities be imposed on those who break the speed limit?

KCC understands that an entertainment venue open to motorised traffic must have a separate entrance and exit.

Is this the case at the venue in question.

Perimeter Security.

The site at present has an ordinary field fence, easily penetrated by any would-be gate-crasher eager to experience the event.

How substantial and extensive will the barriers be - which the venue organisers now undertake to erect at the site?

Will a barrier be in place behind the temporary stage which borders a 60 acre birch wood, property of the Burton Trust? See (iii)

Will the Highland Council ensure that a check is carried out on the barriers to ensure that they meet the required standard?


The CC has been given no information about the fire safety measures with which the venue will be expected to comply as part of the Licence  regulations.


Other points raised by members

a) The event is advertised in the press, on Facebook and on the venue website, as a fund-raising event for endometriosis treatment. The Foundation, referred to, has not as yet been included on the Charities Register (Scotland).

At last year’s unauthorised event,  the organisers’ posters advertised the weekend as Belladrum 2020 and Hootenany to attract fans of these events.  Both Belladrum and Hootenany had cancelled events owing to pandemic regulations.

b) Directions to the venue name the road from the Tore Roundabout as the A192. This road is in Northhumberland.

c) It is noted that many well-known events in Highland - which were due to take place in July and August - have been cancelled owing to the pandemic. List attached.

2) Black Isle Festival (Health and Nature Walks) July 31st and August 1st Update.

A KCC Newsletter giving details of the event has gone out to residents. This has been posted on the KCC Website. Posters produced by the BIF team have been distributed.

Old Railway Walk.

Members met with Mr Kernahan ( author of the Black Isle Railway) and representatives of the Black Isle Festival (Health and Nature Walks) committee along with other interested persons for coffee on Wednesday 7th July.

Thanks to Mr Lefere (Nansen Highland)  for allowing the walkers to use the picnic tables at Redcastle Station.

Mrs Mackay will be trained as a health and safety guide via a Zoom meeting on Friday. A risk assessment is being carried out and the footpath has been ‘topped’  by the farmer. A ‘Porterloo’ will be available.

A temporary sign will be placed on the A832 to indicate the entrance to the farm-steading for cars wishing to park.

Milton of Redcastle Walk

Mr F Fraser has agreed to lead the walk. Mrs Mackay will finalise the route and other details with Mr Fraser. The Rev. Susan Cord (Killearnan and Knockbain)  hopes to take part.

Meeting ended approx. 8.20pm


Post meeting: further issues

. ( i)    Sound. When environmental engineers look to minimize noise to surrounding communities they must consider the concept of sound wave refraction and its acoustic shadow.  Amplified sound, emanating from an outdoor venue, will be greater at night than during the day. Temperature and barometric pressure affect sound waves and can further amplify them.  Sound travels on average 1 mile in 5 seconds. It is questionable that turning the loudspeakers to face the ground will do much to lessen the transmission of noise.

(ii)  Health and Safety. The CC has been informed by a qualified ‘first-aider’,  who has served at several large events in the Highlands,  that:  “ For the event planned (250-300 persons)  there would need to be a minimum of 3 first aiders with the full 3 day qualification, also a defibrillator would need to be on site.  The first aiders would also need to be pvg'd due to the nature of the event. An emergency RVP would need to be in place for the ambulance service to  be able to access the patients”.  

(iii) Residents are raising concerns about the removal of trees in the wood to make room for the temporary stage. Did the Highland Council consult the Forestry Authority regarding permission for felling?

(iv) Additional concerns are being expressed to members of the  CC about the effect, in particular of noise and/or possible fireworks,  on the animals in the vicinity. Horses are stabled nearby. Farm animals are having to be moved to fields further away.













June 2021

The Return of Our Newsletter. 


KCC Activity During the Pandemic

A: During the lockdowns, members have met via Microsoft Teams with one additional outdoor meeting. We have also kept in touch by email and telephone. Members have joined Cllr Adam’s Tuesday Zoom meeting which gathers together representatives of various Black Isle Organisation as well as CCs. In addition, the Secretary was part of the BICC Zoom Consultation with Highland Council Planners. As a stakeholder in the WSP A9 Review, KCC has taken part in all the WSP ‘Teams’ and conveyed residents’ concerns about safety at the Munlochy Junction, Tore Roundabout and Tore Pedestrian Crossing.

Highland Council information and updates have been posted on the KCC Website.


B. AGM – The composition of the council remains unchanged with Kenne Mackenzie continuing as Chair.


C. Extract from Minutes of the Last Meeting May 2021.

A9 North Kessock to Tore WSP Report – KCC’s recommendations/statement for the WPS Teams Meeting scheduled for May 25.

Short Term Actions: 

 1.  Reduction of speed limit to 50mph from Munlochy/Artefallie Junction to the Kessock bridge.

 2. Reduction of speed limit to 40mph on all approaches to the Tore Roundabout covered by the ‘Tore’ zone as indicated on the Highland Council Plan of the area to improve safety on the roundabout and on the public uncontrolled pedestrian crossing which is the only access to public transport for residents in the area. Pupils of the local secondary school have to cross a dual carriage (4 lane) highway where the speed limit is 70mph. It will help to ameliorate the conflict on the A835 turn off to Tore Primary School where the right turn lane is inadequate for the volume and type of traffic using the A835 Transport Scotland main route to the West and the Western Isles.

3. No use of the A832 to Cromarty through Tore village as a means of reducing conflicts at the Munlochy/Artefallie Junction. The road is narrow and passes  Bannerman’s garage, a heavy goods vehicle service station and café. Speed limit through Tore village to be reduced to 20mph.

4. a) Extensions of slip roads on A9 Southbound and Northbound lanes at the Munlochy/Artefallie Junction b) Lighting to be installed at the Junction a.s.a.p.


5. KCC agrees with Kockbain CC and other BI CCs that: a) a speed limit of 20mph be applied through Munlochy village immediately- heavy increase in Tourist traffic anticipated this season. b) urgent upgrading of  the B road connecting traffic from Cromarty, Rosemarkie,  Fortrose, Avoch  to the A9.

 Medium Term

1. The construction of a roundabout at the Munlochy/Artefallie Junction.  A fatality has already occurred, serious injuries have been caused and ‘close shave’ incidents are reported constantly.  The safety of all road users of the main arterial highway north of Inverness is being jeopardised. The A9 North services major towns across Highland, Caithness and Sutherland as well as the Hebridean and Orkney Islands. Continued neglect is not an option.

2. A traffic light system at the Tore Roundabout.”


Dear Stakeholder 

A9 North Kessock to Tore Study (WPS) 

I refer to our most recent stakeholder workshops on 18 and 25 May where we looked at the long  list of potential options referred to in the Case for Change Report, published in March 2021.  After assessing the feedback we received from these sessions, we have consolidated these  options into five categories based on timing of potential delivery and indicating which options  may work better together, noting the aim of each option and highlighting any potential  consequence of each option in turn. 

As indicated, the next part of this process will be a public consultation to listen to the views of  the wider public and allowing an opportunity for informed feedback. That consultation is due to  launch this Wednesday at 13:00 on social media channels Facebook and Instagram and we  would greatly appreciate your support in circulating the link to those you may be engaged with.  Principally, this is a digital consultation hosted on the Scottish Government consultation portal  Citizen Space and the link for the consultation is here: https://consult.gov.scot/transport scotland/a9-north-kessock-to-tore-study. Please note this is an eight week consultation which  will close on Friday 27 August 2021. Further information is also available on the Transport  Scotland website: Road Safety (transport.gov.scot). I have attached an A4 poster which you  may want to print and display in any public spaces you have permissions to use. 

If you require any further information or support in sharing this consultation, please do not  hesitate to get in touch. 

Stuart Wilson:  National Operations Manager – Safety & Development.


Note from KCC: If you do not have access to Social Media, or are not in the habit of using it, you can write your personal concerns about the present situation on the A9 between the Kessock Bridge and Tore Roundabout and post them to ‘Cnoc eile- Beg, Tore, IV6 7RY or leave a note at the Tore Filling Station. KCC will forward your views to Stuart Wilson.


Black Isle Festival: Think Health; Think Nature. Get to Know Your AREA

The Black Isle Partnership (with BITT)  is organising a Festival (July 31- August 1st) which offers interesting walks in each of the Black Isle CC areas. Posters/Leaflets – advertising all the details - are to be circulated shortly.


Killearnan CC’s contribution involves  a ‘Black Isle Railways Walk” along the old line from Linnie Steading (just off the A832) to Redcastle Station (about 1 mile). The walk will take place at 2.00 pm on Saturday 31st July.  Mr Jack Kernahan (author of the “Black Isle Railway”) has agreed to answer questions about the old railway line at Redcastle Station. Parking is available at Linnie Steading where we hope to make a little refreshment available.

Additionally, on Sunday 1st August at 2.00pm,  we hope to show off the ‘treasures’ of Milton of Redcastle village – the garden, picnic area, castle walk and crannog …. Mr and Mrs Bethune have, provisionally, offered to guide the walk. Parking would be at the Killearnan Church hall car park.


All are welcome. Do join us.








Meeting will take place via Microsoft Teams

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Title: Andrew Macka7's Teams Meeting
Time: 27 May 2021 19:00:00 British Summer Time

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MARCH 24/21

WSP, who carried out the review of the A9 (North Kessock to Tore) set up by Kate Forbes MSP, have issued a report. The letter below, received by the CC, gives the link to the survey report.

A9 North Kessock to Tore Study - Update - 24 March 2021



Wed, Mar 24, 4:36 PM

to Richard.Perry

Dear Stakeholder,


Please find attached update in relation to the A9 North Kessock to Tore Study.


Kind regards,


Michelle Van der Stighelen
Correspondence and Briefing Officer

Trunk Road and Casualty Reduction Team | Roads Directorate

Transport Scotland | Buchanan House | 58 Port Dundas Road | Glasgow G4 0HF.

Dear Stakeholder A9 North Kessock to Tore Study Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the A9 North Kessock to Tore Initial Appraisal: Case for Change Study, undertaken in 2020. Since the stakeholder workshops took place there has been a comprehensive review and consideration of the available evidence, input submitted by stakeholders and a detailed analysis of traffic data. Our consultants, WSP, have now finalised their report and I am pleased to confirm that this is available to read in full on our website at

STAG Appraisal - Case for Change Report - March 2021 - A9 - North Kessock to Tore study (transport.gov.scot). The Report has concluded that a Case for Change has been established. We have now instructed WSP to proceed with the next stage, The Preliminary Appraisal, which will look at how the various options generated as part of the Case for Change Study can address the problems and opportunities identified. This is in line with the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance. A key element of this task will include further stakeholder engagement prior to a wider public engagement exercise to ensure that the views of road users are considered. Representatives from WSP will be in contact with you once they have completed the initial stages of the Preliminary Appraisal to advise on the stakeholder engagement arrangements involved with this next phase of the study. I hope you find this update useful and look forward to continue working with you as this study progresses. Kind regards Richard Perry Road Safety Manager



Draft Minutes of the Killearnan Community Council Meeting.

Held on April 8th at 7.30 on Microsoft Teams.

Meeting set up by secretary and chaired by Mr K Mackenzie.


Mr. K Mackenzie, Mrs. A C Mackay, Mr. A Cameron, Mr. A Mackay, Mr A Brown, Mrs A Maclean (Cllr)

Apologies: Mr S Hudson.

Agenda: WSP “Case for Change” A9; Teams Meeting with Police, Tuesday 6th.

The WSP Report had identified most of the issues affecting motorist, pedestrian and cyclist safety on the A9 North Kessock to Tore Roundabout.

Mr Mackenzie went through the WSP’s ‘long list’ of proposals. Appendix 10

There was general agreement that a 50mph speed limit be applied as soon as possible at the Munlochy/Artefalie junction.

A further extension of a 50mph limit up to the Tore Roundabout was also desirable but it was recognised that this might face resistance from Transport Scotland. (Also a caveat from Police spokesmen).  However a 50mph limit round the roundabout itself was felt to be essential to reduce conflicts at the roundabout and improve safety at the crossing. The imminent, expected increase in tourist traffic (a consequence of Covid 19 restrictions to foreign travel) should be taken into consideration. Many of these vehicles would be newly hired campervans with drivers unaware of the hazards on the A9 north of the Kessock Bridge – to Tore.

Longer term measures KCC considers likely to improve road safety include:

 the introduction of  lighting at the Junction; traffic lights at the Junction and the roundabout and  controls at the pedestrian crossing;

the extension of the slip-roads on both the South bound and North bound carriageways at the Junction.

KCC is opposed to  ‘meantime’ measures at the Junction which, by causing more traffic to use the Tore roundabout, would increase the hazards to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists at the roundabout.  The A832 through Tore village, passing a heavy goods vehicle petrol station, garage and café, is clearly not a suitable route for increasing numbers of commuters from Munlochy, Avoch, Fortrose, Rosemarkie and Cromarty. 

The hazard on the A835 at the turn off to Tore Primary School needs to be addressed as does the speed of vehicles leaving the roundabout onto the A835 and the A832.

The speed of traffic leaving the roundabout on the Southbound carriageway and approaching the crossing remains a danger especially to pupils who travel on the Fortrose Academy school bus.

The poor quality of the B9161 leading from the Junction towards Munlochy was commented on as was the continued congestion in Munlochy High Street. 

 The WSP LIST includes an outdated suggestion for a  ‘Bus Park' at Tore. The latest MFLD Plan has recognised that Tore is a most unsuitable location, considering the present road layout and the conflicts associated with the HGV Garage. MFLDP proposes a Bus Park at North Kessock.

Some of the listed suggestions, such as redefining road markings, extra signage etc,   were thought to be only marginally effective in mitigating the serious hazards on the A9 through Killearnan.

Overall, the meeting felt that the status quo was no longer acceptable and that major improvement was long overdue. The MFLDP ‘moratorium’ on further major housing development in the Black Isle, pending improvements to the road infrastructure, is welcomed as it reflects a true recognition of the urgent need for action.  A new roundabout, encompassing the Artefalie, Munlochy and Craig Rory exits and entrances, members feel, is the optimum long term solution regarding an increasingly dangerous junction.

The meeting agreed that KCC be a signature to Cllr Adam’s proposed letter to WSP and Transport Scotland but felt strongly that the text should also include KCC’s specific concerns about the roundabout, the crossing and the exit onto the A835. Members plan to review the draft letter, add their comments and email these to the secretary who will pass them on to Cllr Adam.

Meeting ended at 8.30pm



PANDEMIC UPdates February 25th


KCC asked the Education Department to clarify plans to make up for the loss of face to face education and the changes to assessment procedures as a result of the pandemic emergency. Anxieties were being expressed by parents, pupils and staff. Mr Donald Paterson replied in a detailed response in the following email.


Many thanks for your email and for the attachment listing your concerns.  I have summarised them and provided comments below, which I hope you will find helpful.


P1-P3 returning to school

In this, we are guided by the Scottish Government (SG) advice about what scientific analysis shows.  A range of previously published evidence has made clear that schools are low risk environments when the appropriate mitigations and safety measures outlined in the Coronavirus: reducing risks in schools guidance are implemented, and this remains the SG judgement – there is to date no evidence that in-school transmission is a significant driver of increasing infection levels. There is also evidence about the impacts of loss of access to in-person provision on educational and developmental outcomes and the need to consider the impacts of remote learning and a phased return to in-person learning on children’s rights and wellbeing.  However, the emergence of the new variants of COVID-19 means that fully reopening schools at this time would not be consistent with a safety-first approach for children, young people and school staff.  The decision was taken nationally, therefore, to re-open schools in the safest phased manner possible, and to monitor the impact of re-opening in this way.  The next update on this will be on 9 March. 


Protection against Covid-19 in schools

As mentioned above, a very thorough process of risk assessment underpins all of our decisions about the phased re-opening, as it did when we re-opened after last summer.  Our Health and Safety officers engage regularly throughout the planning process and our Area Teams communicate regularly with Head Teachers about the various mitigations that need to be in place (such as use of face coverings, social distancing, movement through buildings and hand sanitising), and meet weekly with Head Teachers to reinforce the key messages.  We have also communicated with families on our Highland Council website about Covid mitigations, as have schools through their own methods of communication, including online.  We also held a question and answer session with Parent Council chairs last week.  We have approached the phased re-opening with a high level of caution, which reflects the caution expressed by the Scottish Government, whose advice we have followed to the letter.


Assessment of progress in SQA courses

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has been very clear that for the time being the focus of classroom teachers and departments should be on consolidating learning and that this will continue to be the case at first when young people return to school.  As you know, from this week, small numbers of Senior Phase (S4-S6) learners will be back in school carrying out practical activity essential for course completion.  Once it is safe for more Senior Phase pupils to be allowed back into school, teachers will continue the process of consolidating learning and carrying out assessment as appropriate.  Helpfully, the SQA has pushed the date for submitting provisional grades to 25 June, which gives teachers that bit longer to complete the delivery of courses and to carry out suitable assessments. The SQA as, further, extended deadline dates for course entries, which gives schools longer to decide on final entry levels.  All of this helps us to ensure that we can maximise the attainment of young people in the weeks and months ahead.


Young people’s mental wellbeing

You are absolutely right to identify this as a major harm of the whole pandemic, and all of our schools are very alert to the issue.  At the moment, as you know, vulnerable children and young people are able to attend school and teachers are checking in with their pupils about their wellbeing as well as their learning.  The Scottish Government has made numerous resources available to us to support the wellbeing of children and young people, including funding to support counselling, which will be very important in the time to come. Our own school teams are continuing to support wellbeing, very ably supported by our Educational Psychology and Primary Mental Health Teams.  Once we return to face to face learning, the focus on mental wellbeing will continue for as long as it takes, and we will continue to work with our wider school communities to provide the support our learners will need.


Addressing inequalities after the end of remote learning

We k now that remote learning has been very challenging for our children and young people, and also for their families.  Our teachers have worked incredibly hard to support home learning and our digital skills have progressed at an incredibly fast pace.  The decision some years ago by elected members to provide our children and young people with one to one devices to support digital learning meant that we were in a much better position than many Local Authorities to deliver remote learning, and we have been developing our digital connectivity throughout the pandemic by supporting families with devices and the means to connect to the internet.  We know that some learners have found the remote learning period harder to negotiate than others and once we return to face to face learning a key piece of work will be to ensure that learners in this position can catch up and flourish.  Again, this is very high on the agenda for our Head Teachers and other school staff. 


SQA processes for allocating grades

You are quite correct to say that in previous years the external examination process has given an objective measure of learners’ success in SQA courses.  This year our teachers are deciding the final grades for young people and we know that SQA will not be amending these grades.  As you mention, this puts our teachers and others in school under a good deal of pressure.  We have confidence in our classroom practitioners to accurately assess progress across the SQA courses and will support them through a robust process of Quality Assurance (QA), the skeleton of which has been drawn up by SQA and the detail of which we will work on with schools.  We will also work closely with other Local Authorities and with Education Scotland to ensure that our teachers’ judgements are reliable and firmly based on demonstrable evidence.  Our own QA processes will run from Easter until the delivery of provisional grades to SQA in June, and these processes will themselves bu subject to a QA process run by SQA to check that we are providing sufficient rigour.  With these processes in place, young people and their families will be able to have confidence in the accuracy of teachers’ assessment judgements.  Finally it is worth noting that SQA will put in place an appeals process, though as yet the details of this have not been finalised.



Thank you very much for taking the time to raise these issues with us.  I do hope my reply will provide you with some reassurance that all of them are a focus for our attention.  This has been a very difficult year for school pupils, families, teachers and other staff working in schools, and we will do all we can to support the process of recovery following the end of the period of remote learning.  This will be a significant undertaking and we are wholeheartedly committed to that.  Elected members, communities, schools and Highland Council officers will work together to do all we can to ensure that, as you say, the life chances of our children and young people are not harmed by long-lasting effects of the pandemic.


Please feel free, of course, to get back to me with any other questions or concerns.


Best wishes


The Black Resilience Committee continues to meet by Zoom, hosted by Cllr Gordon Adam. It is proving a useful forum for the dissemination of information and an exchange of views. The Ward Manager Di Agnew attends most meetings to give updates from the Highland Council.

Groups represented include CCs, Councillors, the Black Isle Partnership, Black Isle Cares, Transition Black Isle and residents’ associations.




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