Friday 21 October 2016

More kids are absent from schools for family holidays

family holidays

A large proportion of pupils skipping school for family holidays has risen, official statistics have been revealed.

According to the data, 7.6 per cent of pupils missed at least half a day due to a family holiday in the autumn and spring terms 2015/16, up from 7.2 per cent the previous year.

The statistics, released by the Department for Education (DfE), include holidays approved by head teachers as well as those that were unauthorised.

In total, 400,490 pupils were absent due to unauthorised family holidays in 2015/16, compared with 362,425 the previous year.

However, the statistics show that the proportion of time missed due to authorised family holidays has remained static at 1.2 per cent.

Illness accounted for 62.2 per cent of absent sessions, followed by medical appointments at 6.5 per cent and religious observance at 1.5 per cent.

The latest figures come despite a Government crackdown on term time holidays, first introduced in autumn 2013.

Under the new rules, head teachers can only grant leave in "exceptional circumstances" and parents face a fine of £60 if they take their child out of school without approval, rising to £120 if it is not paid promptly.

This policy was challenged in May, when Jon Platt won a High Court ruling against a fine issued for taking his daughter out of school for a family trip to Florida.

After the decision, ministers urged heads to continue the new policy, and requested that the Isle of Wight council, which issued the penalty to Mr Platt, appeal against the ruling.

MPs have since criticised the “confusion"surrounding the rules, saying that many councils have dropped legal action against parents or suspended penalties altogether.

They urged clarity for the system, saying that parents and schools "need to know where they stand".

Despite coming under pressure to change the rules, Nick Gibb, the schools minister, defended the changes, citing evidence that leaving school during term time has a negative effect on GCSE grades.

A DfE spokeswoman said: "Evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chances of achieving good GCSEs.

"Over the past decade absence rates have followed a downward trend and almost 200,000 fewer pupils are now persistently missing school than in 2010, thanks to the hard work of teachers, who are insisting on improved pupil behaviour and attendance.

"Today's figures show we are continuing to improve with the number of persistently absent primary and secondary school children, which is down from 11.1 per cent last year to 10.3 per cent this year."



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