Plans for new school holiday in West Lothian

After two years of disruption school holidays might be the last thing on the minds of most parents, but one controversial holiday is set to reappear.

By Stuart Sommerville, LDR
Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 6:00 am
John Devlin 15/03/2021. A pupil taking a covid test.
John Devlin 15/03/2021. A pupil taking a covid test.

West Lothian has opted to return to the week long February break in the 2022/23 session, four years after it was cut back. West Lothian Council’s Education Executive will be asked to approve the new holiday as part of the term date when it meets later this month. If agreed, the schools will be closed from February 10, 2023, with pupils returning on Tuesday, February 21. Teaching staff will return a day earlier.

The council decided in 2019 to cut the February break down to a long weekend. Feedback from some parents was that February was not suitable for a week-long holiday because of poor weather.

It was pointed out at the time that February was also a difficult holiday week for many parents to fill because of its proximity to an early Easter and the Christmas holidays.

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In 2023 the Easter holidays start on 31 March- with Good Friday on 7 April.

While parents might not like a February week off, teachers do.

Heather Hughes the local secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland which represents 85% of teachers in the county told a meeting of the council’s Education Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP): “ Teachers absolutely welcome the February break because the staff and the young people are really quite exhausted.”

Mrs Hughes pointed out the break provided much needed breathing space between mock exams and the real thing.

“Fingers crossed that everything goes back to some kind of normality in the session. They will be in the run-up to examinations and probably an examination timetable and that gives everyone a well earned break for the final big push that they will need.”

She said there was “massive push” among teachers for the week’s holiday in February.

Consultation has taken place with the Local Negotiating Committee for Teachers (LNCT) and Non-Teaching Unions, Headteachers, Parent Councils and Operational Services.

A report to the PDSP published some responses to the proposed dates including one from Bathgate Academy which said: “Most of our Parent Council support the dates for school session 2022/23. The February week provides some consistency now across neighbouring Council Educational establishments and reflects historic parent council requests in previous consultation exercises.”