Holiday decisions a matter for headteachers

By a County Press reporter

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


HEADTEACHERS still have the authority to allow families to take term time holidays, according to Isle of Wight MP Andrew Turner.

Since September there has been a steep rise in the number of parents fined for taking their children out of school without authorisation from the headteacher.

It follows an amendment to legislation in September, designed to clamp down on absence rates nationally.

But Mr Turner said it was wrong to suggest the government had banned term time holidays and said the final decision still lay with headteachers.

Yesterday (Monday) Mr Turner questioned education secretary Michael Gove about what guidance had been given to headteachers about what constituted the exceptional circumstances under which they could authorise absence.

Mr Gove said: "As ever, my honourable friend is absolutely right; the decision as to what constitutes exceptional circumstances is a matter for the headteacher. It is important, however, to stress that children wherever possible should be in school and learning, and a drive to reduce truancy and push up the number of days and hours that children spend in school is at the heart of our long-term plan to raise standards in our state schools."

Mr Turner said: "We all accept that children should be in school whenever possible, but heads can agree to a family holiday, and the decision on that is quite rightly a local one.

"Of course headteachers can consult others, but the decision is ultimately theirs. It would be quite wrong for guidance to be given from the government, as these judgements need to be made in the context of individual circumstances and individual schools."

The National Association of Head Teacher (NAHT) said: "We have every sympathy with parents struggling to cope with the cost of holidays in peak times and the demands of a holiday economy, but the presumption has to be that education comes first.

"Pupils need consistency to keep up with their studies and a week out every so often can be problematic further down the line.

"Headteachers will use their discretion to decide what counts as an exceptional circumstance.

"For example, a child whose parents are serving in the armed forces, where tours of duty do not fit with school term times is clearly in a very different position from one whose parents are simply trying to get a better deal on one of many regular holidays."


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Displaying the last 10 of 22 comments - Show All Comments

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by James McAdder

27th March 2014, at 12:54:44

I think these comments from Turner indicate that this draconian, "big brother" law is backfiring.

Apart from the relatively few hardcore truants and deadbeat parents, the real reasons for education "not coming first" is poor teaching and poor school management.

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by alan harrison

26th March 2014, at 18:05:41

George- i apologise if you took the head in oven comment as an insult as it was meant to be more " tongue in cheek".Of course you are right that this is meant to be a debate about school policy on children missing out on their education when taken out of school during term time.
My earlier comment refers to the National Association of Head Teachers statement pointing out that time out from studies can affect a childs education "further down the line". No doubt the majority of teachers and the Education Department would have the same view,however it would seem that teacher training days and strike action will have a similar effect on pupils as schools are closed on such days and this seems to have been overlooked and not taken into account by what we would consider "professionals".The message sent to pupils would be "one rule for us...and another rule for them".

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by alan harrison

26th March 2014, at 15:56:23

Neil i,m just a born cynic.....i don,t want to be "ganging up" on george but some of his comments do seem a bit black and white. I wonder what would happen if a new rule or law meant putting his head in an oven..........

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by alan harrison

26th March 2014, at 14:01:40

So taking a child out of of school during term time is not acceptable but of course teachers attending training days and strike action seems to be okay..........

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by Michaela White

26th March 2014, at 11:08:10

We were granted leave by our school for a wedding, it was arranged at short notice due to a terminally ill family member who was a key part. The school approved this as exceptional circumstances. We are booked to go away in October. We are going term time as we cannot take our son away on holiday at peak season as he cannot interact with other children (we have learnt this through experience, not just presumption) and he curls up in a ball and rocks when there are lots around. I refuse to take my son on a holiday where he is going to get distressed as that will not be a break for any of us. It is worth us paying the fine should we get one because at least we will have family quality time for a week and knowing my son he will learn so much whilst we are away that he will come back and share his new found knowledge with all the other children!

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by jan hickman

26th March 2014, at 09:18:31

Apparently though the heads can say, their hands are tied by the council line...always no, even for funerals...not exceptional circumstances enough huh!!??!!

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by kevin froment

25th March 2014, at 22:36:08

the price hike from term time to holiday time is probably more than the average fine anyway, its just a case of factoring in the fines when you book the holiday

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by billy piper

25th March 2014, at 19:45:22

George not everyone is as intelligent as you my friend and has grade a's from Oxford and why is this not my real name!

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by terry gibbins

25th March 2014, at 19:42:06

most working class families, find it hard to afford a holiday at all, let alone, inflated termtime prices,
i dont blame anyone holidaying term time,
good luck to you,
& i trust it works out cost effective , even if you get an unjust fine.
also well done for taking the kids on holiday, some do'nt get a chance.

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by John James

25th March 2014, at 19:34:48

Any absence has to be justified to Ofsted by the school and their idea of exceptional circumstances is precisely that, it doesn’t cover your average holiday. AT is just muddying the water which is unsurprising given there is an election next year. Personally I think parents should be allowed to take their children on a break during term time.

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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