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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 group of squatters found in derelict houses in Grimwade Street, Ipswich, had been living there for “a couple of months” police have said.

Health bosses in Suffolk have said it is vital for youngsters to be able to reach out for support after new research has revealed that nearly a quarter of girls show significant symptoms of depression by the age of 14 – with pressures at home, school and social media among contributing factors.

Police have been tackling regular anti-social behaviour around Ipswich Waterfront – with Suffolk New College grounds among those where the problems have been spotted.

When Ipswich brewers Tolly Cobbold went on the expansion trail in the 1930s they built some rather grand pubs, in Ipswich and beyond, in a mock baronial style.

The most popular baby names for 2016 in England and Wales have been revealed with Olivia and Oliver being ranked as the number one choices.

A motocross enthusiast has called for better facilities for young riders in Suffolk after long-running concerns about illegal racing resurfaced.

The first of two exhibition sessions detailing options for a new bypass on the A12 in Suffolk was held yesterday – with about 70 people attending.

With the weekend only a few days away you might be wondering how you are going to spend it, check out our what’s on guide for events near you.

The law firm representing former pupils of the disgraced Oakwood School in Stowmarket say their clients have received more than £2million in compensation from Suffolk County Council.

The founder of a charity that supports sexually abused children in Suffolk has given an insight into what it’s like working in this harrowing field as the organisation marks its fifth birthday.

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