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School days lost to term-time holidays rose by 2,500 last autumn in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 18:00 19 May 2017

Family beach vacation. Stock photo. Picture: ARCHANT

Family beach vacation. Stock photo. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

The number of school days lost to unapproved holidays in Suffolk last autumn rose by almost 2,500 year-on-year, new figures show.

Parents were last night given fresh warnings against taking children out of school for cheaper holidays due to concerns over the effect they have on exam results and the court action families might face in the wake of last month’s Supreme Court ruling.

Jon Platt lost a landmark legal battle over a £60 fine for taking his seven-year-old daughter out of school to Disney World for a week.

The ruling gave legal backing to the government’s stance. It meant parents can be fined for removing children from school without permission, and prosecuted and even jailed if they refuse to pay.

Data then revealed a 10,000 rise in the number of school days lost in Suffolk to unapproved holidays between 2010/11 and 2015/16.

But the latest Department for Education research, for the Autumn 2016/17 term, found the total number of school days lost for both authorised and unauthorised term-time holidays had risen to 19,645, up from 17,015 the year before. Authorised holidays remained static, but unauthorised trips rose by over 20%, from 11,785 to 14,295.

Heads insist on imposing former education secretary Michael Gove’s toughened-up policy from 2013 of only permitting term-time holidays in exceptional circumstances.

Dr Simon Letman, headteacher at Holbrook Academy, admitted it “makes good business sense” to take advantage of cheaper term-time trips, but warned missing just one day harms GCSE results.

He said: “We are clear: this is unacceptable. We have sympathy in exceptional circumstances, but we all have a responsibility.”

Former Suffolk headteacher Geoff Barton, now the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “If different pupils are taken out at different times, this disruptive effect increases exponentially.”

Graham White, the Suffolk NUT national representative, said the majority of students suffer from missing just one day of school.

Around 70% of requests are made by parents of primary school pupils. The data also suggests 73% of all requests are now rejected, up from 47% in 2010.

Term-time holidays account for 8% of all absences in Suffolk.

Suffolk County Council said: “Children should be in the classroom, and not taken out of school without good reason.”

A person has died after a serious crash on the A12 near Copdock this afternoon.

The sunshine, blue skies and record breaking temperatures of recent days are set to come to a thundery end - with heavy rain and lightning expected across the region this weekend.

A full business case for a northern bypass will be tabled by the end of the year it has been revealed, as transport secretary Chris Grayling has said that some improvements in the area will “have to happen”.

An Ipswich man who was in a “blind rage” when he deliberately drove his car into a neighbour has been jailed for two years and seven months.

The jury in the trial of a 68-year-old former Ipswich man accused of sexually assaulting a schoolboy in his mobile home more than a decade ago is expected to retire to consider its verdicts on Monday.

A couple jailed for failing to pay more than £400,000 tax have been ordered to pay back £70,000 and £1 respectively.

In Brief is the new and improved daily newsletter brought to you by the Ipswich Star brimming with all of your local news highlights

The East of England Ambulance Service answered 3,200 calls per day over the winter period, new data shows.

Plans to transform the empty Cavendish Hotel on Felixstowe’s seafront into homes and commercial units have been given the go-ahead once planners secure financial agreements for affordable housing.

A broken down train has prevented the minister responsible for the country’s transport system from visiting the Great Yarmouth area today.

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