Parents to have say on length of school holidays

Parents, carers and pupils will be asked how they feel about losing a week of their summer holidays and gaining a second week in October instead.

It is the first major change proposed since the holiday dates were agreed by Central Regional councillors in the 1990s and, if agreed, will be implemented from 
August 2022.

Falkirk Council’s education, children and young people committee agreed that the proposal should go out to consultation and many were supportive of making the change.

Councillor David Alexander, the SNPs acting education spokesperson, said no-one should see this as a  ‘fait 
accompli’ and it was important everyone had their say.

A report presented to the committee said: “Over the years there have been regular suggestions by a significant number of parents, both locally and wider, that the current summer holiday break(traditionally seven weeks), is too long.

“There is also additional support for this from those parties who view it as also helping to address food poverty related matters arising from children not benefiting from free school meals for the long summer holiday period.”

Robert Naylor

Robert Naylor

In making the change, Falkirk Council would not be unique as several other 
councils already have a shorter summer break and two weeks in 
October.

It is proposed that all schools in neighbouring Stirling and Clackmannanshire will undertake the consultation at the same time and all of the results will be presented to the respective council committees in the New Year.

Councillor Pat Reid asked if grandparents were being consulted – the answer being a definite yes.

The council also wants to hear from pupils and non-teaching staff based in schools who would also be affected by any changes.

Parent representative Karen Procek was keen to know if there would be any further discussion around changes to holiday dates.

She said: “Parents are 
being asked on a specific proposals but will there be any future discussion about changes to the holidays?

“As a parent of a child with additional support needs, I would argue six weeks is still too long for the summer holidays.”

Children’s services boss Robert Naylor agreed many parents would wish for a shorter summer break it was something that had been 
discussed.

Complicating factors 
include denominational children at St Modan’s High School which is in Stirling but which serves some pupils in the Falkirk area, including Denny.

He suggested that if this change went through it was likely that they may look at further changes.

Religious representative Evelyn Crosbie asked if there any academic benefits from making the change.

Head of education, David Mackay, said there was evidence to show that children do suffer if they have an extended break from school and had to spend a lot of time catching up.

The current agreement for school term dates is: autumn term starts on Monday of third full week in August; October holiday starts on Monday of second full week in October; Christmas holidays are two full weeks to include public holidays on January 1 and 2; Easter holiday is the first Monday in April for two weeks, regardless of when Easter weekend falls.

The consultation will 
begin on November 25 via a Group Call which will alert parents to the questionnaire on the council’s website and will run for five weeks until December 31.

If implemented, the change will happen from the academic year starting in 
August 2022.