Changes to the 2020/21 school holiday dates have been approved by Angus Council.
At an online meeting of the children and learning committee, councillors unanimously approved recommendations to give teachers half-day early finishes at the start of this year’s Christmas holiday and the 2021 summer break.
This means that on Wednesday, December 23 and Thursday, June 24, 2021, schools will shut at lunchtime.
The changes to the school holidays come as a result of Angus Council’s decision to award every employee a bonus day to add to their annual leave as a thank you for their work during the pandemic.
The additional day is being split over two half days for teachers in order to “minimise disruption to children’s learning”.
“Example of council profligacy”
Angus Council is the first local authority in Scotland to introduce the extra day of annual leave and the plan was the idea of council leader David Fairweather.
However the move – which is estimated to cost the local authority £45,000 – is not without controversy, Carnoustie independent councillor David Cheape previously labelling the plans an “example of council profligacy.”
Speaking at a council meeting held earlier this month, he said: “At a time when the council budgets are under the worst ever pressure I think there are many people who will simply consider this as another example of council profligacy when we are asking everyone to tighten their belts.
“I received one of the largest responses I have had during my almost four years as a councillor, all without exception acknowledging positively my stance on this issue.
“It would be a dereliction of my duty as a councillor not to acknowledge these responses.”
Children services plan
At today’s meeting of the children and learning committee, councillors also approved recommendations to delay the completion of a new children services plan until March 2021.
Under Scottish Government regulations, every local authority and its relevant health board is required to prepare a plan for the area.
Angus Council’s current plan, which focuses on reducing inequalities and improving outcomes for all of Tayside’s children, was due to end in March 2020 and a new three year plan was expected to be in place by this month.
However because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this has been “impeded” and councillors agreed to continue the existing plan until next year.
A report submitted to the committee by Mark Armstrong, depute chief executive of the council, outlined that this delay would “allow time to evaluate progress, review priorities in line with a revised needs assessment which takes account of the impact of Covid-19”.