New plans could see big changes to Aberdeen school holidays

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Aberdeen council chiefs have launched a public consultation into proposals for a shake-up of school holidays in the city.

Aberdeen is one of only six local authorities in Scotland where the summer term continues into July – with the school year ending on the first Friday of the month.

Youngsters head back through the school doors in the third week of August.

The planned changes would see holidays brought into line with the majority of the rest of the country, where schools break up in the last week in June and return in the second full week of August.

The consultation will also look at other holiday patterns.

Schools in the city are off for two weeks in October, but almost half the local authorities in the country take a single week, with the balance of days added either to the summer break or an early spring holiday in February.

The study will also look at the mid-term break in February. At the moment pupils have one holiday day and two in-service. However, other councils have a full week’s holiday.

The timing of the Easter break, which normally falls during the first two weeks of April, could be held a week earlier due to changes to exam timetables.

Also being looked at in the consultation is the September long weekend and winter break.

Previously, the September long weekend has been cancelled with days added to the festive holiday to allow for more time off to be added to the start of the break.

Councillor John Wheeler, convener of the local authority’s educational operational delivery committee, believes community views must be taken into account before a decision is taken.

He said: “It’s only right the local authority consults when there are proposals for wide sweeping changes like this. We want to work in partnership with schools and parents.

“It’s about potentially bringing Aberdeen in line with the majority of the rest of the country.”

The consultation period, which will officially begin on Monday, is open to a wide range of groups who would potentially be affected by the planned changes.

The results will be analysed and a summary of the most popular options will form the basis of a calendar of dates, which will be discussed at the meeting of the education committee on May 16.

One of the examples suggested is that if pupils return to lessons a week earlier after the summer holiday than they do at present, schools will be in a better position to provide help and support regarding arrangements for school courses and progression to college, university and work.

Councillor Catriona Mackenzie said: “I would encourage as many parents and carers to take part in this consultation as possible.

“Ultimately, changes to school holiday patterns do not just have an impact on pupils and learning. It can also have an impact on family life.

“It’s very important that the council understands whether making these proposed changes will make life easier or more difficult for families.”

Meanwhile, councillor Martin Greig added: “We have to get this right. It is crucial to listen carefully to what parents say about school holiday periods.

“If changes have to be made, they should be carefully thought through and reasoned.

“I would encourage as many as possible to respond to the questions in the consultation.”

The consultation is open until March 10 and can be found here