Council clamps down on term-time trips for pupils

Education
Education

Nottingham City Council is ignoring calls for greater flexibility for parents want to take their children out of school, in a bid to improve attendance.

Changes introduced last year mean that school leaders can only grant permission for trips in “exceptional circumstances” and parents who take children out of school without permission can face fines.

The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling for the rules to be changed, arguing that there are occasions where parents’ requests should be considered - such as religious festivals, weddings, funerals or a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

But a spokesman said the council is determined to improve attendance in Nottingham schools and has recently seen encouraging signs of improvement, with primary school absence falling by a third since 2011.

He said: “Absence levels are now at 4.4 per cent, closing the gap with the national average of 3.9 per cent, while persistent absence has fallen by twice the national average.

“The council has been working with schools and parents to achieve these improvements, and part of that is ensuring holidays are not taken during term time. Nottingham’s revised school year has gone some way towards giving parents an opportunity to take off-peak holidays if they wish, with a two-week autumn half-term break.”

City Council Leader Councillor Jon Collins said: “We are sympathetic to parents in these circumstances but we feel there is sufficient flexibility for headteachers as the law currently stands.

“Overwhelmingly, the best interests of children is for them to be in school. While most parents absolutely respect and understand that, there is a small minority that don’t and as a result it is right that schools and the council take action.

“The current pattern of school holidays provides some opportunity for families to take holidays outside of peak holiday season and that is something we will look to develop further in future years.”