Scottish Daily Mail

Fam­i­lies don’t need any more sur­prises

- Society · Parenting · Family

THIS has been a tu­mul­tuous year for peo­ple of all ages – but chil­dren are among those who have suf­fered the most.

The clo­sure of schools back in March led to a chaotic pe­riod of what was eu­phemisti­cally known as ‘blended learn­ing’.

Now we learn min­is­ters are study­ing plans to ex­tend the fes­tive break for school­child­ren, which could mean the term end­ing about five days ear­lier than planned.

And it would be Jan­uary 11 be­fore they re­sumed their lessons – an­other lengthy in­ter­rup­tion that would only com­pound fears about the amount of class­room time lost in 2020.

There are ben­e­fits: chil­dren would be able to spend more time at home be­fore rel­a­tives ar­rive, tak­ing them out of the school en­vi­ron­ment in the run-up to Christ­mas and po­ten­tially re­duc­ing the risk of trans­mis­sion of the virus.

And this would also ap­ply to teach­ers – who would run less risk of re­ceiv­ing a no­ti­fi­ca­tion on the Test and Pro­tect app over Christ­mas.

It’s also pos­si­ble that by clos­ing schools af­ter the ex­pected end of the tough­est Covid curbs on De­cem­ber 11 the virus would be fur­ther sup­pressed.

That’s im­por­tant – it’s likely that fam­ily gath­er­ings will in­crease the R rate, and could pro­voke a lurch back to full lock­down at the start of next year.

But there are real con­cerns about the amount of ed­u­ca­tion chil­dren have missed this year.

Late-no­tice changes to holiday dates could cause a child­care headache for thou­sands of fam­i­lies.

And there would be no spe­cial ‘hubs’ to look af­ter the chil­dren of key work­ers, as ear­lier this year th­ese were staffed by teach­ers – and this time they would be on holiday.

The only rea­son we know this idea is be­ing dis­cussed at all is that a memo by coun­cil chiefs was leaked to a news­pa­per.

But wouldn’t it be re­fresh­ing if, for once, min­is­ters told us what was go­ing on – rather than re­ly­ing on leaks?

MSPs should have a say in the de­bate – af­ter all, its out­come di­rectly af­fects a large pro­por­tion of their con­stituents.

What­ever is de­cided, it’s im­per­a­tive that gov­ern­ment pro­vides the clar­ity chil­dren, teach­ers and par­ents des­per­ately need.

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