School boss defends parents in holidays row

Anchorsholme Primary headteacher Graeme Dow.
Anchorsholme Primary headteacher Graeme Dow.
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A Fylde coast headteacher today claimed some parents “don’t have a choice” but to pull their children out of school to take them on holiday during term time.

Anchorsholme Primary School headteacher Graeme Dow’s comments come after the Department for Education and Skills (DfE) said that police, school staff, and local education officers are to be given powers to issue fixed penalty notices to parents who “condone or ignore” their children’s failure to attend school.

And it comes just a day after Blackpool Council revealed a new “zero tolerance” approach to truancy, with education bosses saying term time holidays would not be accepted.

But Mr Dow says while he does not condone children being taken out of school, many parents have to work during the school holidays due to Blackpool’s status as a tourist resort, and a national debate now needs to be had on how term-time absenteeism is treated.

Mr Dow said: “Parents will still take them anyway purely because of costs.

“One of the huge problems for parents is the changes to the costs of holidays.

“I honestly think the Government have got to consider that.

“We also live in a holiday town where people are expected to work during the holidays.

“I don’t agree with pupils being taken out of school during term time but some parents don’t have a choice.

“There are some fundamental issues that need to be addressed at a national level.”

Changes to the law in April which came into effect from September 2013 in England mean headteachers would not grant leave of absence during term time unless in exceptional circumstances.

It is for headteachers to determine how many days a pupil can be away from school if the leave is granted.

A DfE spokesperson said: “Poor attendance at school can have a hugely damaging effect, and children who attend school regularly are nearly four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs than those who are regularly absent.

“That is why we have given schools more power to tackle poor attendance and allowed them to intervene much earlier.

“We have also increased the amount parents can be fined for unauthorised absences and cut the amount of time they have to pay.”

Click here to read more on this story: TARGETING PARENTS IN COUNCIL’S WAR ON TRUANCY

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