Monday 27 February 2012

Won't somebody please think of the children!

I have been known to remark on the evident willingness, not to say eagerness, of anti-independence propagandists to make themselves look foolish for the sake of their cause. The current frenzy of faux outrage, fan flapping and fist shaking over the suggestion that the referendum date might be Saturday 18 October is a case in point. As ever, The Scotsman is among the worst culprits - Scottish independence: Thousands of Scots may miss vote over UK’s future.

So what's all the fuss about this time? Only the possibility that if the date is as claimed by The Sun then this might mean that some schools in certain parts of Scotland will be on holiday at the time.

If The Scotsman and the Scottish Tories' new ex-leader in waiting, Ruth Davidson, are to be believed then it is impossible for parents to make their way to a polling place unless their offspring are safely ensconced in the classroom. Alternatively, the suggestion is that huge numbers of families across Scotland are only waiting for Friday's school bell to ring before whisking themselves off to Val d'Isère or Kitzbühel for the skiing or perhaps Orlando, Florida for the "Disney experience".

A couple of points seem to have been missed in the eagerness to have a fit of the vapours every time the referendum is mentioned. If tradition was allowed to trump rational decision-making, the referendum would be held on a Thursday and necessitate the closure of hundreds of schools to be used as polling places. Try telling the children that's not a holiday! And if tradition should be abandoned the referendum will be held on a Saturday. When the schools are closed anyway.

And what of the well-known tendency for Scottish families to go jet-setting at the drop of a hat? The fact is, you'd be struggling to find a month in the school year that doesn't have a holiday. And, taking 2010-2011 as an example, the October holiday covers the entire month; with the earliest start date on 4 October and the latest end date on 29 October. Interestingly, at least for those who have an interest in facts, a very large proportion of October breaks managed to avoid 18 October altogether.1

I am prepared to accept that it might be possible to find a date that avoids school holidays altogether. But it is an absolute certainty that this date too would raise objections. Because it is not possible to find a date that will not clash with something - supposing it's only the quarter-finals of the World Cockroach Racing Championship.

And I have not the slightest doubt that The Scotsman would be up in arms about that as well.

School Term Dates 2010/11

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