BBC News – Scotland
Parents have criticised a decision to cancel a primary school residential trip in December as “hugely premature”.
They received a letter from City of Edinburgh Council last week saying Wardie Primary School’s P7 residential trip to Benmore in Argyll had been cancelled due to coronavirus.
Parents said it was a “very important” part of the curriculum and should not be cancelled so far in advance.
The council said it was looking at a local camping trip as an alternative.
It has told all school head teachers in Edinburgh to inform parents that trips to Lagganlia outdoor centre in the Highlands have also been cancelled until the end of the year.
Stef Scott, 43, said her son Lewis, 10, who was due to go on the trip had been left very upset at news of the five day trip being cancelled.
She said: “This is not just a fun thing it is a very important part of the curriculum.
“December is six months away, so this decision feels hugely premature and heaps yet more disappointment on our children, many of whom have limited access to outdoor experiences and learning opportunities like Benmore.
“I don’t understand why this decision has been taken now, when no details about the duration of current social distancing measures have been confirmed by the Scottish government.
“Furthermore, the Scottish Tourism industry is set to reopen from 15 July.”
Molly Moyle, 38, said she was about to pay the last instalment for her 11-year-old Ryan’s £290 trip when it was cancelled.
She said: “From as soon as they start primary one they hear about the primary seven trip and it is the pinnacle point of their school experience.
“They see the primary sevens going on this massive trip and when our daughter Phoebe went she came back her confidence and self esteem levels were much better.
“They do great things on these trips including night walks in the forest and gorge walking, things they don’t get to do normally.
“It is a deep shame that the council thinks a camping experience near Edinburgh will give them the same experience when Benmore is an outdoor activity centre.”
Louise Brown, 40, said her son had been really looking forward to the trip.
She said: “He’s really gutted. It’s months away so I think its too early to make a decision.
“A lot of things can change between now and then. I could understand if they cancelled two months beforehand but six months in advance is a bit extreme.”
Ian Perry, City of Edinburgh Council’s education convener, said: “Excursions are a much-loved and highly valued part of the school year and we have no intention of postponing or cancelling events without good reason.
“Our residential activity centres aren’t proposed to restart until next year and we, like many councils, are having to make plans based on the current national guidance.
“This advice is, of course, constantly evolving so we’ll continue to review decisions as and when we get further guidance for residential trips.”
Alison Dickie, the council’s vice-convener of the education, children and families committee, said: “We’re looking at other ways we might be able to provide our P7 pupils with memorable experiences, like an alternative camping trip in a more local area.”
“We’ve tried to give as much notice as possible to parents and carers and we’ll very much be working with head teachers on a stepped approach to re-evaluate excursions as part of our wider recovery plans for safely returning to school.”
Plans for any camping trip would be for next year.