Increase in number of pupils taking holidays in term time

SUFFOLK: The number of children being taken out of school for holidays increased dramatically between 2008 and 2009, new figures reveal today.

The number of unauthorised absences went up by more than 1,000, and the number of half school days lost shot up to nearly 58,000.

However, Graham Newman, county councillor with responsibility for children and young people, said the numbers are thought to have fallen substantially over the past 12 months.

He said: “The numbers went up because there were changes in 2007 in the way unauthorised absences were recorded. That meant a lot more were picked up.

“Since then we have been working hard with schools and parents to bring them down and I know that in 2009/10 the figures will show a substantial drop.”

A key reason for the number of children being taken out of school during term is thought to be the cost of holidays – and the premium charged by holiday companies during school breaks.

In the past, schools took a more relaxed view of youngsters having time off during term, except for those sitting external exams.

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But over recent years the Government has told schools and education authorities to take a firmer line – now most headteachers are likely to reject requests to remove children from school for a holiday.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “We recognise the dilemma relating to the cost of holidays before and then during school holidays.

“But the law is quite clear that removing young people from school simply for a cheaper holiday is not allowed. Removing a child from education, even for a few days, can have a high cost for young people in the long run.”

n Is it right to take a child out of school during term time? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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