FIFE Council have apologised to families who booked to go away next Easter after education chiefs changed the dates of the school holidays.

There was anger among parents when it was announced that the fortnight break had been brought forward by a week, after many had already arranged and paid to take their kids away.

Instead of the school holidays running from Monday April 10 to Friday April 21, as the council originally announced, they are now Friday March 31 to Friday April 14 (inclusive).

On the mums and dads in Fife Facebook page, Sarah Stoddart said: "Centre Parcs for that week was really cheap as Fife holidays were a week later so myself and I know of 22 other families along with all their friends and families have also booked for the week of the 17th and now the schools go back on this day.

"I know of many teachers, a headteacher and a depute who have booked a holiday for that week too!"

Lauren Stewart added: "We're going that week too. As are about 10 other families we know."

And Beverley Watson said: "We've already booked to go away from the 17th and taken time off work!

"Even if we still go on holiday on this date, we now have to find a whole week of childcare as can't take additional time off work!"

Dunfermline councillor and Lib Dem education spokesperson Aude Boubaker-Calder said: "There is a reason the dates for these holidays are given in advance, and families and teachers are now effectively finding they could lose out on hundreds of pounds on holidays they have already booked.

"This is the last thing they need with the current cost of living crisis.

“I am calling on Fife Council to urgently look into this matter.”

Head of education and children’s services, Shelagh McLean, said: "Our Easter holidays have had to change next year to avoid a potential clash with the start of the SQA exams for senior pupils. "We are responding to the specific dates which are published by the SQA a year in advance of the exams.

"We're sorry for any inconvenience this might cause but we hope that people understand the need for the change, and that we've let families know as early as possible.

"We’d like to reassure parents that their school will work with them on alternative arrangements if holidays are already booked and can’t be changed.”

Parents had received the surprise news last Wednesday in a letter from executive director of education Carrie Lindsay, who said there was an "important change" to the Easter holidays that she was "keen to bring to your attention early".

She also told parents that "school attendance really matters" and added: "If your child has 90 per cent attendance at school that sounds really positive but that means they have missed 19 days of school in the year.

"If they do that through their school career, they will have missed 209 days. So, it would be like leaving school in 3rd instead of 4th year."

On the mums and dads page, Nicola Robertson said: "Change based on a 'potential' clash and not an actual clash.

"Surely they could work with the SQA rather than change dates to which people have already booked up?

"People cannot afford to lose deposits etc and they have the cheek to talk about attendance!"

Lizzy Sykes added: "I think mentioning absence after all these kids and families have been through is utterly shocking.

"We were all encouraged to keep them off if they sniffed in case they had Covid."