Term-time holidays ‘account for quarter of unauthorised absences’

Term-time holidays ‘account for quarter of unauthorised absences’

Taking children on holiday in term-time accounted for a quarter of unauthorised absences from schools in England, according to analysis of official figures.

Almost one million children missed at least one day of school in England, despite the threat of fines.

Torbay, Bournemouth, Poole, Cornwall and Devon are among the 10 areas with the highest percentage rise in holiday absence, the BBC reported.

Term-time holidays across England accounted for an average of 27% of all missed “sessions” of school. There are two sessions of school each day, morning and afternoon.

Pupils in Yorkshire and The Humber and the north-east of England lost the most time to holiday. The figures showed the number of absences was equivalent to 1.5 school sessions for every pupil. In Outer London the figure was equivalent to 0.75 days per pupil.

In areas like Warrington and East Riding, family holidays made up almost half of all missed school sessions.

The figures cover 2015-2016. In May 2016, father Jon Platt won a case at the High Court to overturn a £120 fine levied for taking his daughter to Disney World in Florida during term time.

Isle of Wight Council appealed against the verdict and the case went to the Supreme Court in January, which reserved judgment.

Rules came into force in 2013 following concerns that some families saw going away during term-time as an entitlement.

If a school declares an absence unauthorised, the council can fine a parent £60 per child, which doubles to £120 if not paid within 21 days.

Altogether, there were 2.6 million children with at least one unauthorised absence, compared with 2.4 million in 2014-15. The figures include pupils who arrived late for school.

The Department for Education insisted overall absence remained at “historic lows” and that persistent absence had fallen by more than a third since 2010-11.

A spokeswoman said: “The rules are clear – children should not be taken out of school without good reason. Evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chances of achieving good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances.

“That is why we have tightened the rules to put teachers firmly back in charge of their classrooms, and we are supporting schools and local authorities to use their powers to tackle unauthorised absence.”


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