Gove set to ban family holidays in term-time
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Monday 20 February 2012
The power of head teachers to allow families to take holidays in term time is set to be axed by Education Secretary Michael Gove. Charlie Taylor, the schools' adviser brought in after last year's riots, has convinced Mr Gove that a hard-line must be taken.
Given the brief of urgently addressing increasing truancy rates, which are portrayed by the Government as creating an underclass and contributing to rising prison and young offender numbers, Mr Taylor has pointed to the discretionary holidays regime in schools as an abuse of a power supposed to cover only illness or bereavement. The shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg, told The Independent: "Of course it is best for families to avoid taking holidays during term time. But the existing rules are clear and tough and I think it makes sense for heads to have discretion."
Figures released last year show truancy rates in England and Wales at record levels, with 64,000 pupils missing school on any one day in the first term of the 2010/11 schools year.
Dr Lynn Minnaert, from the University of Surrey, said: "Will this really support children and their education, or merely achieve better sounding statistics?"
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