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Tougher fines in pipeline
9:51am Sunday 19th February 2012 in News
Education Secretary Michael Gove is to crack down on parents who take children out of school to go on holiday.
Headteachers will lose the ability to sanction up to two weeks a year of "authorised absence" during term time, in a new drive to improve attendance rates, it's been reported.
The discretionary absence is intended to cover illness, bad weather and bereavements, but many heads come under pressure to grant it so that children can be taken on holidays at times when it is cheaper.
The move, to be accompanied by tougher fines for parents of children who regularly play truant, follows a review of school discipline and attendance by teacher and behaviour expert Charlie Taylor.
It is thought that 4.5 million days of schooling are missed by pupils going on holidays, which are often significantly more expensive during school breaks.
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders representing secondary school heads, said: "The discretionary 10 days has become a bit of a cultural expectation with parents viewing it as a right in some cases. It is not.
"Children only have one chance to get their education right and for schools to do their best for pupils, it is essential that children have good attendance. Parents taking children out to go on holiday just to get a good deal is disruptive and makes life very difficult for teachers."
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "This is a leak and we are not commenting on a leak."