Headteachers and politicians have a hard task attempting to navigate this perennial problem, writes veteran schooling journalist Richard Garner in his ultra-modern fortnightly TES column
Pity the faculties and the authorities – they’re stuck between a rock and a difficult location over the latest court docket ruling approximately whether or not parents can take their youngsters out of school at some point of term time.
The high court subsidized magistrates in ruling that a father, Jon Platt, had no case to answer for taking his six-12 months-vintage daughter out of college for a ride to Florida due to the fact she had a ordinary attendance record – overall, she had been at school for more than ninety three in keeping with cent of the time that she ought to had been.
placed some other manner, even though, a ninety three per cent attendance record approach a baby is absent for sooner or later each 3 weeks. i would argue that this not anything to jot down domestic approximately. It manner an absence of simply underneath 3 weeks in a faculty year.
consider if every parent believed their infant have been entitled to that type of attendance report. it’d be a nightmare for the trainer as she or he attempted to set paintings once they lower back to make sure they stored up in magnificence,
alternatively, pity the terrible parents, too – especially, I emphasise, the terrible parents. The price of a vacation overseas can double among term time and the faculty vacations – in one case, a journey to Majorca went up from £1,876 in term time to £4, 028 inside the summer season holidays. It method, essentially, you could simplest come up with the money for a vacation-time vacation if you are rich.
Then there’s the government. It has the laudable aim of trying to ensure that every one children have an awesome school attendance report. underneath its policies, an attendance file of less than 90 per cent can suggest a pupil is bordering on being a consistent truant. it’s miles now thinking about strengthening the steerage it gives to schools. The trouble is, something formulation it comes up with is sure to face prison scrutiny. At present, the 1944 training Act says youngsters must have “regular attendance” at college. The trouble is, who defines what’s normal? answer: a choose or magistrate who doesn’t have the hassle of making sure that folks that are granted leave hold up in magnificence once they go back.
Up till 2013, headteachers had the discretion to grant up to ten days’ depart in time period-time in extremely good situations. again, remarkable situations have been not defined. it might, even though, be well worth revisiting that location because i might imagine it’d be extra tough for a court to outline whether a headteacher was the usage of his or her discretion accurately than to declare that a toddler become entitled to a term-time excursion because of a regular attendance file.
Of route, the less difficult solution is probably to position a few ethical pressure at the excursion operators now not to jack up the value in their vacations so much in the course of the summer time wreck. fats chance of that, though. it’s been attempted through, among others, David Hart, former trendy secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, and David Blunkett while he turned into schooling secretary. They made little development.
The female turned into for turning
good to see that the schooling secretary Nicky Morgan and the headteachers appear like largely making a song from the same hymn sheet once more over academisation, now that the government has dropped its insistence on obligatory academisation for every school. not anything to do with my last column, i’m sure. It had emerge as obvious from the electricity of opposition to the idea in Conservative celebration circles – each inside local authorities and at the backbenches inside the Commons – that it changed into a non-starter.
The timing of the statement – on local election effects day – triggered a few eyebrows to be raised. The legitimate line turned into that it changed into the first opportunity to make the announcement due to “purdah” – the rule by that you can’t make authorities announcements all through an election period. If this is so, it increases the query of whether Nicky Morgan virtually knew the U-turn turned into coming whilst she boldly defended the policy at the NAHT convention and were given the heads in this type of lather they voted to don’t forget business action over it. however, if it simply become concept to be an awesome day to bury horrific information, it failed to absolutely be successful on that rating.
Richard Garner became training editor of The independent for 12 years, and has been writing about schooling for extra than 3 decades