When are the October school holidays in Scotland? Start and end dates of autumn half-term break

The start date of the autumn mid-term holiday varies between individual schools and council areas across the country

Scotland’s school pupils are now back at school following the summer holidays and a tumultuous few months of education.

The Covid pandemic resulted in weeks of school closures, with face-to-face teaching replaced with remote learning during lockdown.

Widespread disruption continued even after all children returned to classrooms after the Easter holidays, with pupils facing repeated self-isolation and the cancellation of exams for a second year.

Pupils in Scotland will be looking ahead to the October holidays for a break from Covid measures (Getty Images)

And some coronavirus restrictions are still in place in schools - like mask wearing for secondary pupils - meaning both pupils and teachers will be looking ahead to the October holidays for a break from the measures.

Here’s when schools in Scotland break up in October.

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When do Scottish schools go back? Date pupils return to classrooms in Scotland a...

When did the schools go back after summer in Scotland?

Most schools in Scotland broke up for summer on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 June 2021.

The holiday typically lasts for around six weeks, and the duration was no different for the 2020/21 academic year.

Many pupils returned to classrooms during the week beginning Monday 16 August.

Some institutions went back at the start of that week, while others returned on Wednesday 18 or Thursday 19 August.

When are the October school holidays in Scotland?

The start date of the October break differs between individual schools and council areas across the country.

Many schools will enjoy their autumn holiday between Monday 11 October to Monday 18 October 2021.

However, some pupils will break up earlier or later in the month.

You can find out the autumn mid-term start date for your area on your local council’s website, where all the school term, half term and holiday dates should be published.

This Scottish Government tool will take you straight to the school holiday dates section of your local authority’s site.

Parents and guardians should also double check when the holiday ends with their child’s school, since term start and end dates and times can vary between institutions.

What are the current Covid restrictions in schools?

Most of Scotland’s remaining Covid restrictions were scrapped on 9 August, with the country exiting lockdown Level 0.

But things aren’t yet “normal” in schools and there are still coronavirus rules in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Scottish Government has said it is taking a “precautionary approach” to the autumn term since there will be large numbers of unvaccinated children and teenagers on school grounds.


Before schools broke up, children were required to self-isolate if they were identified as a close contact of a fellow pupil who had tested positive for the virus.

Inevitably, this caused disruption for thousands of pupils. Towards the start of the summer holiday, the number of school children isolating had reached more than 24,000 on 22 June.

During the autumn term, the blanket self-isolation rule for whole classes after one person tests positive for Covid is no longer “routine”.

This means children identified as close contacts will not have to isolate if they return a negative test.

Face coverings

Meanwhile, all secondary school pupils in the country had been wearing face coverings in classrooms since they returned to face-to-face learning.

This rule has continued during the autumn term, with all teachers and senior pupils needing to wear face masks while indoors.

But only pupils aged 12 and over need to wear face coverings on school transport.

Social distancing

All staff need to keep a physical distance of at least one metre between each other, as well as with pupils.

However, class “bubbles” will be scrapped.

The Scottish Government is still advising staff to continue to avoid assemblies or grouping lots of children together.

Parents will also only be allowed inside school buildings where it has been agreed by the school.

But thanks to the easing of restrictions in Scotland, all drama, music, PE and dance classes are able to go ahead this term – as long as there is good ventilation and hygiene.

Covid tests

All school staff and secondary school pupils are required to take a lateral flow test twice a week.

After six weeks, “once all staff have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated”, this testing system will be reviewed, according to the government guidance.

New lateral flow tests are to be brought into Scottish schools after recent data revealed a “lower than expected” uptake of the tests among school pupils.


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