Azara Blog: Unauthorised absences from school allegedly a problem

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Date published: 2007/09/11

The BBC says:

Overall truancy in England's secondary schools decreased last autumn then worsened in spring, new figures show.

A minister urged parents not to take children on holiday during term, as more than 5.4 million days were lost for that reason in all schools.
Of the total days lost due to holidays, 530,000 had not been authorised by the schools though in the vast majority of cases schools had agreed to the children's absences.

Schools can grant up to 10 days authorised holiday per year, though official guidance to head teachers says this should not be an automatic right for parents.

[ Children's Minister Kevin ] Brennan said: "While it's fair that heads should have the discretion to allow parents up to a fortnight for holidays in exceptional circumstances, local authorities should not tolerate instances where parents wilfully take their child out of school without authorisation."

He added: "Travel companies have a role to play in keeping prices competitive during school holidays."

Agreed family holidays accounted for 12% of the reasons for absence (17% in primary schools and 8% in secondaries).

The figures 53% were because of illness, with a further 7% for medical appointments.

Arriving late accounted for just over 1% of unauthorised absences.

The middle class control freaks in action yet again. How dare parents do anything without grovelling to the school first. No doubt many parents don't want to ask the schools about in-term holidays because they don't want to be lectured to by the school head about how dreadful they are (allegedly) behaving. And although the BBC makes every effort in the story to mix statistics between percentages and absolute numbers, it seems from the above that less than 10% of days lost to holidays were not authorised by schools, and since agreed family holidays accounted for 12% of absences, presumably unauthorised holidays therefore accounted for around 1% of absences. Is this something worth getting hysterical about, or even writing a story about? And travel companies are simply following the usual laws of economics with regard to supply and demand. If the government doesn't like it, the government should spread the demand out by spreading the holiday weeks out between differing schools. That would make out-of-term holidays cheaper much more effectively than making silly statements about travel companies allegedly having a role to play in denying the laws of economics.

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