Momentum builds behind plan to extend Christmas holiday

Biggest teaching union backs proposal but government says no decision has been reached on school Christmas holidays
27th November 2020, 2:18pm

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Momentum builds behind plan to extend Christmas holiday

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/momentum-builds-behind-plan-extend-christmas-holiday
Coronavirus: Momentum Builds Behind Plan To Extend Christmas School Holiday

Scotland's biggest teaching union has backed a proposal to extend the school Christmas holidays.

The EIS said it would back the move to close school doors for longer, whether that entailed simply the lengthening of the holidays or the introduction of blended learning at some points.

However, health secretary Jeane Freeman today said that no decision had been reached yet on extending the school Christmas holidays.


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A document from local authorities' body Cosla shows plans that would involve all pupils being out of school from 18 December - the date on which some areas, but not all, are due to break up for Christmas in any case - and not returning to school until at least 11 January, the Daily Record reported late last night.

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EIS union general secretary Larry Flanagan told Tes Scotland today: "The EIS believes that there is a strong case to be made for extending school closures during the winter break, to reduce the risk of any increase in infections during this period spreading throughout school communities, and to protect the festive season for families.

"Whether this is based on initiating remote learning during the period of the extension, or a straight increase in the length of the Christmas and new year holiday, the EIS would support this in the interests of the health and wellbeing of pupils, staff and their families."

In a message to members today, the EIS said: "Discussions are taking place nationally around the possibility of an earlier school close in the run-up to Christmas and a delayed start to the new term.

"A move to remote learning for these periods is being considered, also. The reasoning is to ensure minimal knock-on effects of any outbreaks before the Christmas break, and to delay any consequence of a rise in infections levels following relaxed mitigations during the break.  

"The EIS is strongly in favour of this approach but no decision has been taken as yet, although some councils have planned slightly earlier finishes."

At the daily coronavirus briefing this afternoon, health secretary Jeane Freeman said the Scottish government "wants to give people as much notice as possible if there is to be any change at all but at this point that decision hasn't been reached".

She said a view based on the advice of the Covid-19 Education Recovery Group will be reached "as soon as we can".

"It would be wrong to overly speculate or jump to conclusions simply because we are looking at different issues," Ms Freeman said.

"But at the moment, the deputy first minister [John Swinney, who is also education secretary] and his colleagues will be working through what they think is the best way for schools to enter the Christmas break and come out of the Christmas break, and that applies to colleges and universities as well."

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