By Democrat reporter

Only half of councils are preparing for a full return of schools in the next two weeks, according to Tory leader Jackson Carlaw.

He added: “The First Minister said that she expects schools to be back full time on 11 August. She said that that is the intention. However, she has not yet confirmed how many councils will, in fact, see that they do.

“We have already heard from a number of councils that the funding that they believe they will receive may be less than half of what is required. Although today’s announcement will at least help to clarify some of that, will the First Minister confirm specifically how many of Scotland’s schools will open and offer full-time education on 11 August?”

FM Nicola Sturgeon said affirmatively: “Schools will return on 11 August. My understanding is that, although most councils are planning full-time education from 12 August, some will be planning a more phased return.

“Let us not forget that children have been out of school for four months. For some children who have not been inside a school building or seen their friends or teachers for that period, a slightly softer start for the first few days may not be inappropriate.

“It is right and proper that local authorities have some flexibility around that. I understand that the local authorities that are planning that kind of phased return over the first few days include Tory-run councils.

“It is something that councils will be looking at carefully, and I trust them to make that judgment.”

John Swinney, she added, the Deputy First Minister, will be issue an education continuity order to the effect that, by 18 August at the latest, all schools will be back full time, because that allows for a slight phasing but makes sure that there is certainty about the full-time return. However, I would expect that the majority of councils will return to full-time education before that.

“I hope that that gives clarity to teachers, local authorities, parents and—most of all—children, who I know right now will be feeling excited about getting back to school but will probably be a little bit apprehensive as well. They should know that we are all thinking of them as they make that return.”

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