Scottish school holidays extension considered but final decision to be made by ministers next week

Ministers are considering whether to extend the school holidays over Christmas to act as a “break” following the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions over the festive period.

By Conor Matchett and Joseph Anderson
Saturday, 28th November 2020, 2:41 pm

A leaked document, seen by The Scotsman, said discussions about the potential extension of the school holidays to cover the period of December 18 to January 11 took place at the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Education Recovery Group yesterday, write Conor Matchett and Joseph Anderson.

One source said that experts including scientists and health professionals had rejected the suggestion, but ministers were to make the final decision next week.

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The Christmas school holidays could be extended

The memo from COSLA, the body representing Scottish councils, said: “The Scottish Government are exploring a national extension to Christmas holidays covering 18th December 2020 to 11th January 2021, either on the basis of schools remaining closed or the temporary introduction of remote learning.

“The Scottish Government officials have indicated that the objectives of an extension would be to ensure that school staff are not involved in contact tracing into the Christmas period.

“An extension would act as a ‘break’ following the wider relaxation of restrictions over the Christmas period.”

The document added that concerns around the policy have been raised, including on the impact on pupils caused by a further loss of learning.

The memo also details that such a decision could force the Scottish Government into closing schools further down the line if there is high prevalence.

It states: “Evidence to date from the Scottish Government has indicated that schools are low transmission risk.

"This proposal may have implications for future considerations on schools remaining open, particularly considering the concerns of trade unions.”

The document, signed off by the policy manager for Children and Young People at COSLA, Matthew Sweeney, also highlights potential concerns around pay, leave, and the potential re-introduction of remote learning at short notice.

A Scottish Government spokesman told the Daily Record: “Questions have been raised in relation to the timing of the school holidays, in particular that some schools break up very close to Christmas.

“This issue was discussed at the Education Recovery Group meeting today, where there were mixed views and no decision has been reached.”

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