This is the reason Scottish schools go back earlier than English schools

(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Children in Scotland are returning to school this week and next after five months off due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Schools in Scotland began reopening on a full time basis from August 11, with the aim to have all pupils back by August 18.

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But if we are looking at things from a 'normal' perspective, Scottish schools generally go back to school in August, while kids in England go back later, in September. 

Despite the coronavirus school closures, this year youngsters in England have another three weeks off. 

That can’t be fair, can it? Here's everything you need to know.

Why do Scottish kids go back to school earlier?

The simple answer is: their summer holidays start earlier too.

Summer holiday dates vary slightly from school to school in different areas, but the 'first day' off for Scottish kids in 2020 should have been around 3 July.

That’s a full three weeks before England’s youngsters 'broke up' for the summer on or around 24 July.

So while it might seem like Scots are getting short shrift from their summer holidays, the length of the break works out to be the same.

It’s not just students in Scotland who get an earlier break: those in Northern Ireland also hear the final bell of the term a few weeks earlier.

Why are they different in the first place?

Nobody really knows why the difference exists, but there are a couple of interesting theories.

One hypothesis suggests it’s because children in rural communities used to have to help out on the land, so were given longer holidays to work with their families.

But this doesn’t make much sense: as well as holiday lengths now being the same, often the busiest time for farmers is later in the autumn when harvesting takes place.

So whenever you or your children break up for summer, be assured that nobody is really getting a better deal than anybody else.

How are schools reopening in Scotland?

Speaking on 30 July, Nicola Sturgeon said that pupils would start returning to school on 11 August with the aim to have all children back in the classroom on a full-time basis by 18 August.

Children were previously expected to return to school under a blended model of part-time in school teaching, part time in home learning.

But schools began reopening on a full time basis from 11 August, with the aim to have all pupils back by 18 August.

Speaking on July 30, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "It is a moral and educational imperative that we get children back to school as soon as is safely possible.

She said a key reason for Scotland's cautious approach to lockdown was "a determination to drive the virus down and keep prevalence low, so that schools can reopen in August.

"Given how long children have been out of school, some local authorities may opt for a phased return over the first few days," she added.

"But we expect all pupils to be at school full-time from August 18 at the latest."

When's the next break?

The next break for Scottish youngsters will be in October, with the start of the mid-term break falling somewhere between 18 October and 21 October across differing regions.

However, this may vary depending on where in the country you’re located, and what school your child attends.

You can check the exact dates for October half term by selecting your local council area on this website.