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Schools in Lincolnshire warned over high levels of term-time holiday

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: December 03, 2012

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Head teachers in Lincolnshire have been told to clamp down on the number of holidays they authorise for pupils during the school term.

New figures have revealed pupils in the county take almost twice the national average of holidays during term time.

Lincolnshire County Council has said it will be forced to review the performance of schools and take action if the figures do not improve.

John O’Connor, head of school admission at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “The issue of authorised family holiday was first raised with headteachers to point out that this is an area requiring improvement and that schools must insist that parents justify why the holiday meets the ‘exceptional circumstances’ test.

“Where it doesn’t, it should not be authorised.”

Headteacher-approved holidays are the biggest cause of pupil absence after illness and accounted for 9.5 per cent of all missed lessons in the academic year 2010-11.

The national average is 5.9 per cent.

The tougher stance on the figures is part of Every Day Matters, the county council’s new initiative to improve school attendance.

Advice is also being given to schools on the legal options available to help with persistently absent pupils, including fines ranging from £60 to £2,500 and possible prosecutions.

In autumn 2011, there were 2,164 primary school pupils and 3,098 secondary school pupils classified as “persistently absent” in Lincolnshire.

Labour councillor John Hough, vice-chairman of the children and young people scrutiny committee, told the Echo he thought encouraging parents to be more supportive of their children would be more effective than threatening them.

He said: “If there’s someone persistently truant, that’s different.

“But if a parent takes their child our of school for a medical appointment or a short break because it was the only time they could get off work, then we have to be sympathetic.”

Jule Holmes, 47, a mum of two from Lincoln’s West Parade, said: “The economy is still reeling and we’re all still scrimping and scraping to get by.

“For most of us with kids, we can only afford to have a family holiday during school term time because it’s cheaper.”

Freddie White, deputy head at Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School said: “There are ample opportunities for families to take holidays during the allocated holiday periods.

“While we understand they are more expensive, irreparable damage can be done to a young person’s learning when they miss school.”

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  • screenman  |  December 03 2012, 7:22PM

    If the holiday companies make so much profit as many of you keep saying why do they often go bust? As for those talking about time off sick, does that mean that kids who have holidays are never off sick? So a child has 2 weeks holiday then say 2 weeks sick over the year, that is a lot of catching up to do. Also who is going to help them do the catching up, I know the teacher who already has their hands full.

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  • bertie64  |  December 03 2012, 1:01PM

    while the gutless government lets the holiday tour companys double the prices dureing the school holidays this will keep happening the only way to stop it is to clamp down on the price fixeing buy these geedy companys

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  • AnnNom  |  December 03 2012, 12:58PM

    As with so many things, it's all a matter of proportion. It would be foolish, to say the least, to take a child out of school in the first few weeks of a new school year or in the year before exams. Other times may not be so crucial. What should happen is that parents should contact the school and find a week which is not going to impact greatly on the child. In my experience however, parents often don't ask for permission. They simply tell the headteacher that their son/daughter won't be in next week and it happens. I agree that holiday companies are profiteering from this but it's not a new idea. I'm certain that today's parents knew this would be the case before they decided to have children.

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  • nigelsparky  |  December 03 2012, 12:14PM

    "No excuses. No child should ever be taken out of school by their parents for the likes of 'holidays'...are 14 weeks not long enough? Doing that to a child is damaging their future and that self indulgence has to be cruelty." Whilst I agree with you regarding the lengths of the school holidays, a 2 week holiday is hardly going to damage their future. And what happens then when the kids are off with an illness? They catch up when they return. If it is that much of a problem, then it's about time that the government got to grips with the pure unadulterated profiteering and expolitation by the holiday companies. Afterall, to my knowledge, no other industry puts up their prices during the school holidays!

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  • OldLincolnia  |  December 03 2012, 11:33AM

    No excuses. No child should ever be taken out of school by their parents for the likes of 'holidays'...are 14 weeks not long enough? Doing that to a child is damaging their future and that self indulgence has to be cruelty.

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  • DavidSLincoln  |  December 03 2012, 7:53AM

    'Irreperable damage'. Poppycock. Allow 1 week of absence per pupil per year. Taken as illness or holiday.

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