Classes out of action
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.