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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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‘Poorly’ Cumbria children returning to school with tales of holidays

PUPILS whose parents reported them off sick have returned to school with exciting tales of family holidays, an Ulverston school has said.

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absences Church Walk Primary School is urging parents to be more honest when reporting their children to be too ill for school when they are actually being taken on holiday

This week Church Walk Primary School sent a letter to parents urging them to be honest when giving the reason for their child’s absence.

The request comes after teachers noticed a number of occasions when children had returned from an alleged illness “excited about their holiday and wanting to share experiences”.

The former infant school, which achieved full primary school status in September, has warned parents they may enforce stricter rules if the problem continues.

In a letter, headteacher Bernadette Calvey said: “For safeguarding purposes, we need to know that children are going to be absent, and would rather that parents are honest about the reasons their children are absent.

“Our aim is to have a moderate approach while staying within out legal duties, but if sickness absence mis-use is as obvious as it currently is, then we may have to start requesting sick notes from a GP and considering fines for term time holidays, neither of which we do at the moment.”

In September, new rules were introduced requiring schools to refuse requests for holiday absence.

Head teachers may grant absence in “exceptional circumstances”.

A fixed penalty notice can be issued for unauthorised holidays and parents who refuse to pay can face court action, a fine of up to £2,500 and a three month jail sentence.

Sue Little, headteacher of Low Furness school is Urswick said the new rules can put schools in a difficult position.

She said: “I feel quite restricted by the legislation, we have parents who booked holidays before the changes came in and that for me in an exceptional circumstance.

“It’s important to talk about. We have an open relationship with our parents as I’m sure Church Walk does as well.”

Helen Pemberton, headteacher of Sir John Barrow School said she understood parents may want to take holidays in term time but that honesty was the best policy.

She said: “It does go down as an unauthorised absence but we encourage parents to tell us. We speak to parents and it’s important to have an honest dialogue.”

Have your say

just the government making this free country a little less free yet again which is most probably backed by them getting extra cash in some way.
not happy with telling us how we have to raise our children but now tell us when we can take them on holiday, how long before they tell us where we can take them? until the government caps holiday companies charging double for holidays during the school holidays they should back off + why is it ok for schools to decide that after the 2 week holiday they have just had thy need an extra day to get things ready. its a joke! I will take my kids on holiday when it suits us and when we book one that we can afford. if they want to lock me up for that then that is up to them, all it will achieve is to show the next generation what a corrupt country we really live in! (remember that lovely holiday we went on as kids to the beach? oh yes, the one that the government locked dad up for taking us on).

Posted by john simm on 2 March 2014 at 19:47

It's the head teachers that need to change and confront the authorities as a group stating that in many cases, particularly in primary and lower secondary schools that it's valuable to children's education to take holidays and that quite honestly time in school and holiday can work well together. Another area that needs expanding is the invitation of parents and friends to tell of their experiences in the outside world including times spent working/visiting abroad.

Posted by Geoff Dellow on 1 March 2014 at 11:04

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