Today’s education news review looks at coverage of the National Union of Teachers' (NUT) planned strike action and term time holidays.
On Saturday, 2 July, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan sent a letter to the acting general secretary of the NUT, Kevin Courtney, calling on him not to go ahead with the ‘disappointing’ and ‘damaging’ teacher strike action which is due to take place on the 5 July.
The Daily Mail reports that while 200,000 NUT members in England were balloted for strike action, less than a quarter actually voted in favour. Their coverage also makes clear that new rules in the Trade Union Act 2016, which received Royal Assent in May 2016, states industrial action will only be lawful when there has been a ballot turnout of at least 50 %. Additionally, in important public services, including education, at least 40% of union members who are eligible to vote must be in support of industrial action before it can go ahead.
The Telegraph features comments from Deborah Lawson, general secretary of Voice, a teaching union, criticising the strikes by calling them a ‘futile and politically motivated gesture’ and echoes the concerns of the Education Secretary by saying that it portrays teachers as ‘militant’ and damages the profession.
In the letter Nicky Morgan underlines that the strike action is counterproductive – that it will harm children’s education, inconvenience parents and damage the profession’s reputation in the eyes of the public.
The Telegraph and the i report on a new survey conducted by Nationwide Savings which questioned parents on how they cope with the school summer holiday.
The survey claims that that one in four parents have called their child in sick from school in order to take advantage of cheaper holiday deals during school term time, despite the government’s clear stance on not missing school without ‘exceptional’ reasons.
Our position is clear - children’s attendance in school is non-negotiable. Evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chance of gaining good GCSEs. To put this in context, an attendance record of 90% over the course of an academic year is equivalent to 19 school days – almost a month - missed from school. Over the course of a child’s school career that amounts to a whole year of their education being lost.
A DfE spokesperson said;
We are clear - children should not be taken out of school during term except in exceptional circumstances. There should be no confusion on this point.
The evidence shows every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chance of gaining good GCSEs which has a lasting effect on their life chances. While family holidays are enriching experiences, the school year is designed to give families the opportunity for these breaks without having to disrupt their children’s education.
Unauthorised absence during term time doesn't just have an impact on the child’s education, but also on teachers and other children.