Par­ents warned over term-time hol­i­days

High­land Coun­cil calls for end to ‘in­creas­ing trend’

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - NEWS - BY CALUM ROSS

Ed­u­ca­tion chiefs have sent let­ters to par­ents in the High­lands warn­ing against an “in­creas­ing trend” of pupils be­ing taken out of school to go on hol­i­day.

They warn par­ents and guardians to “very care­fully con­sider the im­pli­ca­tions” of ar­rang­ing trips dur­ing term.

Jim Steven, High­land Coun­cil’s head of ed­u­ca­tion, called for sup­port from par­ents, telling them they play a “vi­tal role” in min­imis­ing ab­sences.

The is­sue has re­peat­edly hit the head­lines in re­cent years, with a fa­ther from the Isle of Wight who took his daugh­ter out of school for a fam­ily hol­i­day los­ing his le­gal bat­tle in the Supreme Court ear­lier this year.

In his let­ter, which was posted on so­cial me­dia by Charleston Academy in In­ver­ness, Mr Steven said: “Par­ents play a vi­tal role in en­sur­ing their son or daugh­ter at­tends school as much as pos­si­ble.

“While the vast ma­jor­ity of par­ents plan fam­ily hol­i­days within the al­lo­cated 12 weeks dur­ing the year, there has been an in­creas­ing trend for some par­ents to re­move pupils from schools for hol­i­days.

“My rea­son for writ­ing to you is to ask you to very care­fully con­sider the im­pli­ca­tions on your son or daugh­ter’s ed­u­ca­tion if you de­cide to re­move him or her from school for a fam­ily hol­i­day.”

He said he was aware that for some par­ents it was not al­ways pos­si­ble to plan trips dur­ing school sum­mer hol­i­days, but urged them to wait un­til the Oc­to­ber break if that is the case.

He added that tak­ing pupils out of school can re­sult in a “sig­nif­i­cant loss in class­room ex­pe­ri­ence”, as well as “pres­sure to catch up on missed work”, with pupils po­ten­tially miss­ing as­sess­ments. It also af­fects school at­ten­dance records.

Schools will not nor­mally give a fam­ily per­mis­sion to take pupils away for hol­i­days dur­ing term-time, and coun­cils can is­sue at­ten­dance or­ders un­der sec­tion 38 of the Ed­u­ca­tion (Scot­land) Act 1980, with non-com­pli­ance po­ten­tially re­sult­ing in a pros­e­cu­tion against the par­ent in the sher­iff court.

A sher­iff is able to fine or im­prison the par­ent if they are found guilty.

A spokes­woman for the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment said: “Al­though only around 0.5% of days were lost to unau­tho­rised hol­i­day ab­sences in 2014/15, it is im­por­tant that schools and par­ents con­tinue to do all they can to en­sure good at­ten­dance to main­tain chil­dren’s at­tain­ment.

“It is up to ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­i­ties to de­cide what sanc­tions they will use if there is an unau­tho­rised ab­sence.

“The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to sup­port lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, schools and par­ents to do all they can to en­sure good at­ten­dance.”

“Par­ents play a vi­tal role in en­sur­ing their son or daugh­ter at­tends school”

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