Families wanting to take their children on holiday during term time are mounting a legal challenge against Michael Gove’s crackdown on the practice.
A judicial review of the Education Secretary’s policy is being sought based on the legally enshrined right to family life.
The legal challenge comes as a campaign for a U-turn in the policy, called Parents Want A Say, launched yesterday. The group’s petition for a change in the rules has already been signed by more than 200,000 parents.
Daniel Bales, 10, from South Yorkshire is among those whose family is preparing to take part in the test case. He has Asperger’s and becomes anxious around noise and heat.
His parents wanted to take him to Spain in June when he would be less bothered by crowds of other kids and high temperatures. His psychiatrist sent a letter supporting the application but the school’s head teacher turned it down.
Karen Wilkinson, a mother of three who is co-ordinating the campaign, said it was not just term-time holidays that pupils were being denied permission for. “Requests to take children out of school for weddings, to visit elderly grandparents who live abroad or even in some cases, when doctors have sanctioned the requests because it’s in the child’s best interest, are all being turned down,” she said in an interview with The Sunday Times.
More than 24,000 children skip school every day to take a break with family.
In a statement on the Parents Want A Say website, one mother calling herself Corrina B, said: “Being a working parent who works with 30 odd other parents, how on earth can we fit our leave into a 6 week period? They will end up not employing mums... this country is becoming so dictatorial.”
An education spokesman said: “Poor attendance at school can have a hugely damaging effect and children who attend school regularly are nearly four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs than those who are regularly absent.”