Overseas trips finally permitted for Edinburgh school pupils as Covid rules relaxed
The local authority confirmed that visits overseas have been permitted since the start of the new term, almost a year-and-a-half after the UK’s rules on international travel were relaxed.
Concerns were raised earlier this year that pupils in Scotland’s capital were missing out on valuable life skills as a result of the failure to reintroduce visits to foreign countries, unlike most other councils and private schools.
In February, Falkirk Council said it was also still advising schools to avoid international trips, while East Lothian Council had “paused” residential trips outwith the UK while it considered its “authority-wide policy on wider achievement and equity”.
Scotland on Sunday contacted all 32 local authorities in Scotland this week to ask about any ongoing restrictions for schools.
Of the 23 that responded, every one said overseas visits were now permitted, including Edinburgh City and East Lothian.
The City of Edinburgh Council confirmed that trips abroad resumed at the start of the school year, on August 17, following a “temporary pause during and after the pandemic”.
It said many educational excursions have already taken place since then, with several more planned.
Trips included schools going to Auschwitz in Poland as part of the Holocaust Education Trust project, as well as visits to France by pupils studying French.
Falkirk Council also said its schools were now able to plan excursions as normal.
Peter Brown, Scotland director at the British Council, which works in more than 100 countries to promote knowledge of the UK and the English language, welcomed the return of visits abroad.
He said: “We believe school exchanges can play a key role in encouraging language education and bringing international skills to young people throughout the United Kingdom.
"It’s fantastic to hear Edinburgh and East Lothian schools have successfully reintegrated overseas trips into the curriculum since the Covid pandemic.
"In a diverse and multilingual Britain, it is vital that all our young people have the opportunity to explore and understand other cultures, nations, and languages.
"These skills not only enhance future employability but also cultivate a profound appreciation for the world.”
East Dunbartonshire Council chief executive Gerry Cornes said: “Restrictions on schools’ trips abroad were lifted in line with Scottish Government Covid-19 guidance.
"There are now no restrictions for schools to take part in these activities as long as they meet educational objectives.”
A Perth and Kinross Council spokesperson said: “There is no policy or guidance preventing trips abroad by schools in Perth and Kinross, and schools have not been advised against such trips being organised or taking place.
"Indeed, school trips abroad have taken place, are currently underway and more are planned to take place in the future by Perth and Kinross schools.”
A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said: “There are currently no restrictions in place which prevent schools from organising trips, however there is advice to ensure refund policies and cancellation policies are in place in case of Covid related issues.”
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