Today’s news review looks at inaccurate claims made about term time holidays.
Term time holidays
Last year Isle of Wight based parent Jon Platt took his daughter on holiday during term time without gaining the required consent from his daughter’s school. In accordance with the rules, the local authority issued him with a fine for the unauthorised absence. Since then he has been campaigning to change the rules.
Later today, 11 July, Parliament will debate the issue after another parent petitioned the Government calling for the current rules around term time holidays to be changed. The petition calls for headteachers to be given greater discretion about when holidays can be taken and remove the ability to fine people.
This morning Jon Platt spoke to the media ahead of the debate. On BBC Breakfast and Sky News Mr Platt made three incorrect and misleading statements.
Claim: In 2013 the Government removed headteachers’ discretion to permit absences during term time (Jon Platt, Sky News, 11 July 16).
Fact: This is a not the case. Prior to 2013 headteachers had the discretion to grant term time holiday absence in exceptional circumstances, and they still do. The law doesn’t specify what those circumstances are because we trust headteachers who know their pupils and to use their judgement to decide what constitutes an exceptional circumstance.
Claim: DfE research shows children who are absent don’t suffer negative impact, even up to 20% absence has no effect (Jon Platt, BBC Breakfast, 11 July 16).
Fact: Mr Platt quotes selectively from a report published in 2011. The data he refers to doesn’t take into account important factors such as prior attainment that may be particularly relevant to pupils who have higher levels of term time absence, and therefore cannot be used to accurately measure the effects of term time absence.
Our most up to date research, for the academic year 2013 to 2014, shows unequivocally that “every extra day missed was associated with a lower attainment outcome.” As such, it is entirely inaccurate to say that missing school does not have a negative impact on attainment.
Claim: Five times more is spent on the fining system than councils get in revenue (Jon Platt, BBC Breakfast, 11 July 16).
Fact: There is no evidence to back this up. Improved school attendance is directly linked with improved attainment, which leads to improved life chances and an overall benefit to the economy, both locally and nationally. The sums received by local authorities from penalty notices issued to parents should be used for the purposes of issuing and enforcing such penalty notices, and for prosecutions.
Our position on term time holidays remains clear.
Children should not be taken out of school without good reason. That is why we have tightened the rules and are supporting schools and local authorities to use their powers to tackle unauthorised absence.
The evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chances of achieving good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances – vindicating our strong stance on attendance. A child who is absent also impacts teachers, whose planning of lessons is disrupted by children missing large portions of teaching.
Almost 200,000 fewer pupils are now persistently missing school than in 2010, thanks to the hard work of teachers, who are insisting on improved pupil behaviour and attendance.