Give us a break . . Queen’s jubilee is a right royal pain

PARENTS have hit out at education bosses over plans to move school holiday dates to accommodate the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 8th October 2011, 5:38 pm

School holidays are planned well in advance to allow parents sufficient time to make childcare arrangements and many are angry that it is “too late in the day” to start changing.

Education chiefs want to move two days off from May 21 and 22 to June 4 and 5. The diamond jubilee celebrations will take place across the country from June 2 to 5 – dates that were set last year.

Parents say the change will impact on childcare arrangements, work schedules and even holidays and are urging the council not to move the dates.

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Many parents have raised their concerns through the Edinburgh Parent Council Network, a forum for parent council members to share concerns and raise issues.

Gavin Corbett, who has two children, Ben, nine, and Charlie, seven, believes the council would have known for some time about the diamond jubilee celebrations.

His family has already booked a short break in May based on the current dates.

Mr Corbett, who is on Craiglockhart Primary’s parent council, said: “The holidays are usually planned a couple of years in advance and are on the council’s website.

“The council regularly consults on dates because there are occasional changes, but I have seen no indication that the council ever takes into account what parents think and the dates go ahead according to council plans.

“This is one time where the council really needs to listen to ordinary working parents who may have already made plans for children because next May isn’t far away.

“Listening to other parents, they have been raising issues like having already arranged holidays, rescheduled work commitments, or arranged things for their children to do.

“There are no holiday clubs for short holidays like this, so parents generally need to take time off work.

“People don’t object to that, if we have a process where dates are planned well in advance.

“If dates are changed, however, there needs to be a really good reason for it.

“No-one is suggesting that it’s not appropriate to mark the diamond jubilee, but it’s too late in the day to start changing public holidays.

“The diamond jubilee has been known about for months, presumably.”

Mr Corbett added: “We have booked a cottage for four days in the Cairngorms, which we go to with eight families who all have children at school.

“We have had it booked for a number of months and people have taken time off work.

“I’m always loathe to take my children out of school and the council actively discourages it.

“What we’ll have to do is just cut our holiday short and go for the weekend.

“I know there are worse things happening in the world, but I have a right to want there to be a good enough reason for the inconvenience.”

Education bosses have written to all headteachers and parent council chairs for feedback after teaching unions stated they wanted the date changes to be considered.

A spokesman for the council said: “Our approach is to set holidays and in-service days well in advance so parents can make plans.

“Very occasionally changes need to be made and, when they are, we consult with parents as far in advance as possible.”