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Bargain-hunter parents blamed for truancy rise

PUBLISHED: 14:22 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:32 23 August 2010

PARENTS taking kids on discount term time holidays are to blame for the highest truancy levels in a decade, say teachers. More than 63,000 pupils skip school every day, according to government figures revealed this week but teachers do not blame the kids

PARENTS taking kids on discount term time holidays are to blame for the highest truancy levels in a decade, say teachers.

More than 63,000 pupils skip school every day, according to government figures revealed this week but teachers do not blame the kids.

Headteachers at schools in north Kent all say their truancy figures are down to unauthorised holidays rather than pupils bunking.

Geoff Wybar, headteacher at Gravesend Grammar School said: "Children aren't playing truant that much. Like most schools we suffer from parents removing their children to take advantage of cheap term-time holidays. It's a national problem.

"Parents have the right to ask to take their kids on a small holiday but when it happens time and again it really eats into their education. I would always prefer students to be in school.

"We have never had a problem with children truanting just for fun on their own."

Figures released by The Department for Children, Schools and Families 2006-2007 show 7,347 secondary school children were absent in Kent that year, 1,230 were unauthorised.

Trish Burleigh, head teacher at Dartford Technology College, said: "Truancy and unauthorised absences are definitely two separate issues. We are not affected by truancy we are affected by parents removing the children from school which we can not authorise.

"We take it very seriously, so we impose a fine on parents who take their kids out of school without permission. Obviously, we judge each case on its merits and if it's really important then we'll authorise it.

"I think it is quite scandalous to take your children out of school as it takes a long time for the children to catch up on work. They say they'll make the kids do it while they're away but I can't see them revising by the pool.

"I don't think parents realise the impact they're having on their children."

Chris Wells, cabinet member for children, families and educational standards, said: "There is a common misconception whenever unauthorised absence figures are released. Every time we undertake a truancy sweep it reveals a significant number of children who should be in school but are out with their parents."

In December last year more than 100 children were caught truanting from school in north Kent over two days of checks by welfare officers. Most children were with their parents.

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