The Scottish Conservatives are calling on the SNP to consider innovative new ways to ensure youngsters get more out of their holidays

The Scottish Conservatives are calling on the SNP to consider innovative new ways to ensure youngsters get more out of their holidays

It comes as pupils return to school after their seven-week break this week amid concerns that the so-called “summer slide” may have affected many pupils, particularly those from deprived backgrounds.

Research suggests that many children lose ground in academic and vocational skills during long periods of holiday.

There is also the issue of affordable childcare which can disproportionately hit those in challenging circumstances.

The Scottish Conservatives are now suggesting that the SNP government should consider opening more schools as “community hubs” during holiday periods, offering opportunities to take part in activities and catch-up classes through outdoor learning.

As the schools return from their summer break this week, the Scottish Conservatives will be focusing on education, proposing fresh ideas and reforms designed to boost excellence and tackle the attainment gap.

Scottish Conservative public health spokesman Brian Whittle MSP said: "Parents coming to the end of the summer holiday won’t need telling that it can be a trial to keep kids occupied.

“The trouble is that, especially in deprived areas, the holiday period may see youngsters fall behind those whose holidays have been packed with activities.

“Inequality of opportunity is an issue that must be addressed.

“We think the SNP should be looking at how schools could be used as community hubs during the holiday – with activities and academic support for those who might need it.

“Schools have the facilities there – so why is it that so many should be under lock and key for the holiday period when the wider community could be making use of them?

“Academic support could be directed particularly to youngsters preparing to make the jump from primary to secondary. We know that many fall behind at that stage and don’t catch up.

“We all want our kids to have a more active, more fulfilling childhood – so let’s see the SNP government stepping up and showing it can respond.”