Parents Welcome Head Teachers’ Guidance
Campaign and lobby group Parents Want a Say (PWAS), have welcomed the National Association for Head Teachers (NAHT) Guidance on authorised absence in schools, however emphasise that each case must be dealt with independently as legally required by Human Rights Legislation.
The recent guidelines issued by the NAHT, aim to provide advice on what ‘exceptional circumstances’ mean when allowing students absence during term-time.
There has been much controversy surrounding the fining of parents who have taken their children out of school during term time, with cases receiving particular attention involving children attending family weddings, funerals and special occasions only to return to fines issued by their Local Education Authorities.
The amendments to the term time family holiday rules under The Education Regulations 2006 came into force on 1st September 2013 and PWAS argue they are unfairly criminalising families for wanting to enjoy quality time together.
Prior to 1st Sept 2013, head teachers had the discretion to allow up to 10 days authorised absence from school. They are now only allowed to grant leave during exceptional circumstances. There has been no Governmental guidance given to schools on what “exceptional” should mean, however it has become clear that the Government would not like children to be taken out of school under any circumstances.
Craig Langman, Co-Founder of PWAS said: “Although these guidelines are a step in the right direction, we still have a long way to go. The Education Authority, NAHT and NUT have yet to sit down with parents themselves to discuss this matter, something we believe is causing friction between parents and schools.
“We all want what’s best for the UK’s children and this will only happen when education officials decide to sit down with parents, working on policies that work for both family life and school life, I think most people would agree that parents should have the final say over what is in their child’s best interests.
“We welcome the NAHT’s recognition that some schools are in need of assistance in interpreting what ‘exceptional circumstances’ are and we want to draw schools’ attention to their duty, as public bodies under the Human Rights Legislation to take each case on its merits and not make blanket decisions.”