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

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

Scotland’s school pupils are enjoying their summer holidays after a tumultuous few months.

The Covid pandemic resulted in weeks 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)

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

And some coronavirus restrictions could still be in place in schools when they reopen in 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 during the week beginning Monday 16 August.

Some institutions go back on at the start of that week, while others expect pupils to return on Tuesday 17 or Wednesday 18 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?

As Covid rules continue to ease in Scotland, there are questions surrounding what the new school term in August will look like.

Both parents and pupils are wondering if the autumn term will be more “normal”.

Even though some changes could yet be decided, schools are currently preparing to go back for the new term with the same restrictions that were in place before the summer break.

Self-isolation

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 has 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.

The Scottish Government has said it is reviewing the need for self-isolation within schools.

National Clinical Director Jason Leitch has suggested the rules could be scrapped for the beginning of the new term.

He told BBC Scotland at the start of July that “strict contact self-isolation” could be replaced with routine daily testing.

Prof Leitch added there will be a decision made over summer before schools go back about “what isolation might look like”.

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.

While the government is looking at the role of masks within society after Scotland’s proposed “Freedom Day” on 9 August, when it is hoped remaining Covid restrictions will be eased, face coverings could still be required in some settings, including schools.

Speaking at the end of June, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Although no final decision has been taken, it may be that, in some settings, which might include schools, we ask people to continue to wear face coverings for a period longer."

Exams

Pupils in Scotland will also be told what next year’s exams will look like before schools go back in August.

This year’s National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers were cancelled again due to the pandemic, with grades instead given using “teacher judgement” based on evidence gathered in tests.

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