EDUCATION bosses have been blasted for keeping Edinburgh schools open while pupils across Scotland enjoy the day off to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.
The Capital is the only city in Scotland to open schools on Monday, with warnings the “mad” decision will result in half-empty classrooms.
All schools will be closed on Tuesday for the jubilee holiday and most other councils have simply decided to turn it into a four-day weekend.
Today, city councillors admitted they feared many parents were likely to keep their children off school to spend the day with their families on Monday. Leith Academy even went as far as sending texts to parents to remind them that their children were expected as usual.
Parents have accused the council of being “party poopers” and downright “stupid”.
Liz Carrie, treasurer of the Balerno High School parent council, said: “It’s mad. I don’t see how it’s helpful to working parents at all.
“They’d be better with both days off. My husband is off Monday and Tuesday and on Monday our kids are in school. It’s a bit shambolic.”
Julie Millar, treasurer of the Kaimes Special School, said the move had meant she could not meet friends from Midlothian, where all schools are closed on Monday.
She said: “It’s a bit strange. I have family with kids at school in Penicuik and we can’t even get together over the holidays because all the children are in school at different times. It seems stupid, especially where autistic children are concerned.”
The problem has come about after Edinburgh pupils were given May 21 off for the Victoria Day holiday and May 22 as an in-service day.
Parent groups believe the more sensible thing to do would have been to move the in-service day to Monday to keep the Capital in line with the rest of Scotland.
Education chiefs, however, insisted that the decision was made in November – before most local authorities decided to close for two days.
Schools in East and Midlothian are closed on Monday and Tuesday. In West Lothian, schools in Bathgate are closed but others remain open.
Senior Tory Joanna Mowat, who served on the policy and strategy committee which voted through the holiday dates, said there were likely to be parents who would keep their kids off.
She said: “In hindsight, perhaps it should have been considered. The reality is Edinburgh is now out of kilter from other parts of the country.
“I know parents who are taking the weekend off and hadn’t planned on coming back for Monday.
“It has caught people unawares and I suspect school numbers will be down on Monday.”
Dave McGinty, national officer for employment at the Educational Institute of Scotland, said the union had concerns that “variations will cause a headache for some parents”.
He said: “It does present childcare difficulties.
“However, to be fair to Edinburgh City Council, they published the school calendar well in advance so parents would have known the dates of the holidays at least by August.”
Due to the size of the council, every extra day’s holiday costs between £250,000 and £320,000, which councillors factored in when they voted for just one holiday.
A council spokeswoman said: “School staff and pupils will be able to enjoy an extra day’s holiday on Tuesday, June 6, to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.”
Tory call for royal renaming
New Tory councillor Dominic Deslop has called for the City Chambers business centre to be renamed The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Business Centre in honour of the monarch.
The Pentland Hills member hopes to get his motion through as the first piece of business on the agenda at the full council later this month, sparking the ire of some colleagues.
He told the News: “Her Majesty has a special relationship with Edinburgh. Let us all rejoice at Her Diamond Jubilee.”
Nod to Queen’s coronation celebration a family affair
IN June 1953, Daniel Taylor was overseeing his family fun fair at Stenhouse, inset, as crowds celebrated the coronation of a new Queen.
Almost six decades on, the sights and sounds of the fair have changed, but the attraction remains in the Taylor family.
Operating this weekend as part of the Meadows Festival, Daniel’s grandson, Keith, has decided to commemorate the Royal connection.
The fair, which usually operates for just the first weekend in June in the Meadows, will stay on until Tuesday when prices will be slashed to just 60p all afternoon to mark the occasion.
“It’s funny to think of my grandfather running the fair in Stenhouse, and then here we are 60 years on,” Keith, 67, said.
“We thought because it’s 60 years, it would be nice to charge 60p a ride on Tuesday as a gesture to the public.”
The Meadows Festival will take place today and tomorrow, between 10am and 6pm.