When do Scottish schools go back? Date pupils return to classrooms in Scotland after summer break 2021

The first Scottish pupils are back in school, but the start date of the new autumn term varies between individual schools and council areas across the country

The first of Scotland’s school pupils are returning to school after their summer holidays.

The Covid pandemic resulted in months of school closures, with face-to-face teaching replaced with remote learning as the country went into lockdown.

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But widespread disruption to education continued even after children started returning to classrooms in phases from the end of February.

Pupils have faced widespread disruption as a result of the Covid pandemic (Getty Images)Pupils have faced widespread disruption as a result of the Covid pandemic (Getty Images)
Pupils have faced widespread disruption as a result of the Covid pandemic (Getty Images)

Many pupils have faced repeated self-isolation, face masks have been required in class and exams were cancelled for a second year.

Some coronavirus restrictions will still be in place in schools when they reopen in August despite the country moving beyond Level 0 on Monday (9 August).

So, when do Scottish schools go back - and what will the Covid rules be?

Here’s what you need to know.

When do schools go back in Scotland?

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

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

However, the end date of the summer break differs between individual schools and council areas across Scotland.

Many pupils will be expected to return to classrooms this week on Monday 16 August.

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The majority of Scottish schools expect pupils to return on Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 August.

But some pupils have already gone back to class.

Those in Angus returned on 11 August – the only council area that went back on that date – after a decision was made to end the previous term earlier than normal.

East Dunbartonshire and the Western Isles are next to return on 12 August.

You can find out the autumn 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 dates can vary between institutions.

The Scotsman has also put together this handy list of the official school holiday dates for each Scottish council area, including when students are set to return to classrooms in August.

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Will there be Covid restrictions when schools go back?

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

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But things won’t be “normal” in schools and there will still be coronavirus rules in place when they return 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.

In the autumn term, the blanket self-isolation rule for whole classes after one person tests positive for Covid will no longer be “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 will continue during the autumn term, with all teachers and senior pupils needing to wear face masks while indoors.

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

Social distancing

All staff will 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 will be 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 one or two days before they go back.

They then need to continue taking them 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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