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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 Suffolk school saw in the holidays with a ‘festival-like’ acoustic evening.

Screen Suffolk bosses have said they are encouraged by the amount of interest shown in youngsters for a career in TV and film.

The man arrested by police over a suspected murder in Bury St Edmunds on Thursday has been charged this evening.

Claydon High School has been recognised for its sporting prowess by achieving the School Games Mark silver award.

Two junctions on the A12 near Kelvedon in Essex will be closed for three nights this week as bridge repair works continue.

One of the biggest dates in Felixstowe’s summer calendar of events got off to a sun drenched start on the seaside this afternoon.

A baby born with a rare disease that causes such severe muscle weakness that even breathing, eating and swallowing become difficult for her has received support from a Suffolk charity.

Families in Ipswich needn’t have ventured far to hit the beach as a sandy retreat began its summer-long stint in Christchurch Park.

Thousands of people have headed to Jimmy’s Farm in Wherstead today for the first day of one of the biggest events on its calendar: Jimmy’s Festival.

A man accused of brandishing a fake gun in Ipswich has been detained to appear at crown court next month.

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