The recent ruling in the High Court which granted parents the right to take children away during term time if the children had a good record of attendance at school, has been met with a renewed determination by the government who now want to close a loophole in the law which made this decision possible.
The Department of Education has released a formal statement saying term time attendance at school was ‘non negotiable’, and that the government would be looking at the legislation as well as issuing guidance to schools on the issue.
Cracking down on attendance has been seen as a way to improve pupil performance at school – fines are now involved and parents can also be prosecuted if they don’t ensure their children get an education. In order to justify their stance on school attendance, the government has consistently looked to research and data to bolster their view that attendance is at the heart of attainment.
But not everyone agrees. A recent article by a lecturer in education at Keele University points out that the government’s take on attendance is not supported by definitive evidence. Peter Jones explains that the data used is not complete, lumps too many variables together without looking to see what other factors impact performance and that the government itself fails to make any distinctions between types of attendance.
Other arguments against banning term time holidays include the ever rising cost of holidays during peak times which parents are finding harder and harder to afford, the right to a family life in law and a view that it should be parents, and not the state, who decide what is in their child’s best interests.
We happen to agree that taking children out of school occasionally is not a bad thing, and this was something we chatted about with Sky News back in 2012 when Michael Gove first announced his decision to try to ban all term time holidays.
What do you think? Should children be able to miss school or do you think there should be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to attendance?