Classes out of ac­tion

Midwest Times - - NEWS - Josh Zim­mer­man

WA pub­lic school­child­ren skipped close to half a mil­lion days of school to go on fam­ily hol­i­days last year.

And par­ents’ fla­grant dis­re­gard for term time is on the rise, with the num­ber of days missed in favour of va­ca­tions grow­ing 16.6 per cent from 388,868 in 2013 to 453,458 in 2017.

Dur­ing that same pe­riod, pub­lic school en­rol­ments grew just 9.6 per cent.

Over­all, 15 per cent of pub­lic school stu­dents — or 42,375 kids — en­joyed an in-term va­ca­tion dur­ing the first half of last year.

They missed 5.4 days, or more than a week of school each, on aver­age The prac­tice is most com­mon in the ear­li­est years of school­ing, with al­most one in five chil­dren in pre-pri­mary to Year 3 opt­ing to cap­i­talise on the cheaper flights and ac­com­mo­da­tion avail­able dur­ing the term.

Closer to one in 10 high school stu­dents skipped school to un­wind with their fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing 1529 Year 11 stu­dents (8.4 per cent) and 978 Year 12s (6.6 per cent).

The fig­ures, ex­trap­o­lated from data pro­vided by the WA Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment, come three months af­ter the depart­ment warned par­ents they were break­ing the law by tak­ing their kids out of class dur­ing term time.

WA Pri­mary School Prin­ci­pals’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Ian An­der­son said there was grow­ing con­cern about the in­creas­ing trend to­wards chil­dren miss­ing school for va­ca­tions.

“Many prin­ci­pals have con­tacted me ex­press­ing their con­cern about the in­crease in such ab­sences and the neg­a­tive im­pact it has on stu­dent learn­ing,” he said. “We do ac­cept, how­ever, that some­times this can­not be avoided.

“A real is­sue is repet­i­tive hol­i­days, which see chil­dren miss­ing lots of school ev­ery year, some­times sev­eral times a year. This is a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time away from the class­room and does have an im­pact on many stu­dents.”

Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment act­ing deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral Stephen Bax­ter slammed the trend and said par­ents played a key role in es­tab­lish­ing pos­i­tive school rou­tines for their kids.

“By tak­ing hol­i­days dur­ing school time, par­ents are giv­ing the wrong mes­sage to their chil­dren about the im­por­tance of at­tend­ing school,” he said.

“The foun­da­tion for stu­dent suc­cess is turn­ing up on ev­ery school day un­less there is a good rea­son.”

Although it is il­le­gal to tak­ing a child out of school for a hol­i­day, the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment has never fined a par­ent.

West­ern Aus­tralian Coun­cil of State School Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s act­ing pres­i­dent Jenny Blair said par­ents and car­ers were re­spon­si­ble for the well­be­ing of their own chil­dren.

Chil­dren are miss­ing school in favour of fam­ily hol­i­days.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.