January 15, 2021

Document shows Scottish Government proposals for extended school Xmas break – Daily Record

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/leaked-document-shows-scottish-government-23075610

A leaked document has detailed proposals from the Scottish Government to extend the Christmas school holidays further into January.

The two-page COSLA document revealed that pupils may not have to return to school until at least January 11 in a bid to stop the virus spreading after festive gatherings.

Council leaders debated the subject, proposed by Government Ministers, at a Covid-19 Education Recovery Group meeting on Thursday, November 26.

School pupils could also be asked to take part in remote learning
(Image: PA)

Council leaders were asked for their thoughts on the 2020 festive break taking place between December 18 and January 11.

The document also proposed schools moving to a temporary remote learning system following the relaxation of strict coronavirus rules over five days in December.

Scottish Ministers are expected to announce their decision next week
(Image: PA)

It read: “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 memo, which was signed off by COSLA’s policy manager for Children and Young People Matthew Sweeney, also contained concerns that had been raised about the proposed changes.

The COSLA memo was passed to the Daily Record
(Image: Daily Record)

They included the provision of emergency childcare for key workers and the time required to properly set up remote learning facilities if that option was selected. 

The memo read: “Early feedback from officers, SOLACE and ADES to the Scottish Government have raised the following points for consideration.

“The need to understand the clinical advice and any modelling on the impact of wider relaxation of restrictions over Christmas on school staff and pupils.

“Clarity on the links with the wider restrictions and levels as the context for schools remaining closed.

“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. 

“There would be no opportunity for emergency childcare as this was provided by school staff previously, and therefore there is an impact on key workers and vulnerable children and young people.

The memo said that Scottish Ministers are due to make a decision next week
(Image: Daily Record)

“It remains unclear if early learning and childcare services will be advised to close during this period.

“Consideration over the potential loss of learning, particularly in the context of exams.

“The need for clarity on funding and ensuring that resources for free school meals etc are met.

“If a move to remote learning is required, local authorities and schools will require time to prepare.

“Practical implications including leave entitlement, 195 contract time and potential implications for pensions, the status of other school staff, honouring of contracts in place for transport, cleaning and potentially calls for no detriment to supply staff as per initial period of lockdown.”

The memo said that a final decision on the proposed holiday extension would be taken by Nicola Sturgeon and the other Scottish Ministers next week.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “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.”