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Friday, May 16, 2014

Food for thought on term time holidays

The BBC reported yesterday that half of all Welsh local authorities ask headteachers to refuse all requests for holidays during term-time.

They say that although schools are allowed to authorise up to 10 days absence per pupil per year, under the Welsh government's school assessment programme, known as banding, absences negatively affect a school's score. As a result sveral councils have tightened policies on term-time holidays and others are considering doing so.

This is all very well and in general a good thing, however it does not help those parents whose jobs prevent them from choosing when they can take holidays. It is the case though, that councils cannot dictate to schools on this matter but that headteachers have discretion to determine whether to authorise an absence or not.

For example the families of those serving in the armed forces struggle to spend quality time together. Those serving their country cannot simply take a week off at times convenient to themselves but are dictated to by the Ministry of Defence. Often these families go months without seeing the serving parent.

Most local councils have signed a military covenant that commits them to looking after the interests of military personnel. This latest policy on school holidays seems to go against that.

There is no easy answer, but it does seem as if the disconnect between the commitment to military familes and this policy needs to be resolved.
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