Level of unapproved term-time absence rises at Essex schools

PUBLISHED: 12:22 16 May 2017

Missing lessons can waste teachers' time and set back pupils, headteachers say. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Missing lessons can waste teachers' time and set back pupils, headteachers say. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

The number of school days lost in Essex to unapproved term-time family holidays has risen by almost 56,000 in five years, new figures show.


Unauthorised family holidays accounted for 87,024 days of absences in the 2015/16 academic year in Essex – up from 31,126 in 2010/11.

The news comes as debate over the controversial issue continues to hit headlines.

In the same period, headteachers have approved far fewer term-time holidays in Essex – down from 81,486 to 25,371.

This has actually led to a slight fall in the number of school days lost for all holidays – both authorised and unapproved.

Last night, heads said they would continue imposing former education secretary Michael Gove’s toughened-up policy of only permitting term-time holidays in exceptional circumstances.

He tightened the rules in 2013 to improve attendance and attainment rates. Previously, heads could grant up to 10 days leave a year for family holidays in special circumstances.

In Essex, the number of days lost for all unauthorised and authorised term-time holidays fell from 112,612 in 2010/11 to 112,394 in 2015/16.

The new Department for Education (DfE) figures come after Isle of Wight father 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 Supreme Court’s ruling gave legal backing to the government’s stance.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “Parents have a legal duty to ensure regular school attendance for their children who are registered at a school.

“There are clear links between attendance and attainment, and every lesson really does count.

“The Government has made it very clear that headteachers should not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances and expect local authorities to use their statutory powers to protect the education of children.

“We will continue to take the action needed to protect the education of the county’s pupils.”

Caroline Derbyshire, head at Saffron Walden County High School, said: “Missing lessons that have been planned, prepared and delivered for a child’s benefit is a waste of public money.”

She added: “There may be exceptional cases where term time absence is unavoidable, and these exceptional requests are judged on a case-by-case basis.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Dunmow Broadcast visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Dunmow Broadcast staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Dunmow Broadcast account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More news stories

Friday, October 19, 2018

Independent builders merchants, Huws Gray has acquired Ridgeons, an independently owned timber and builders merchants trading from more than 40 branches, including Saffron Walden.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Saving for a prolonged period of travel is essential, says our financial columnist Peter Sharkey. And now might just be the best time to go.

Friday, October 19, 2018

A new community run shop in Wethersfield will open in June, the group leading the venture hope.

Friday, October 19, 2018

A grandmother and former Women’s Institute member celebrated her 105th birthday in style at a Dunmow care home.

Digital Edition

Read the Dunmow Broadcast e-edition E-edition

Most read stories

Newsletter Sign Up

Dunmow Broadcast weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy