Pembrokeshire Parents Want A Say Appears Before Welsh Assembly Petitions Committee
Pembrokeshire Parents Want A Say were invited to the Senedd in Cardiff on July 14th to discuss the impact of term time holiday bans on children and families in Wales with the National Assembly Petitions Committee.
Many Welsh local authorities are attempting to introduce local bans and restrictions on term time holidays even though Welsh law gives head teachers the power to authorise term time absence for family holidays or similar events. The Welsh Minister for Education and Skills, Huw Lewis, confirmed these powers in a statement in December 2014
“Parents do not have an automatic right to withdraw pupils from school for a holiday during term time. However, there may be circumstances that warrant a pupil taking time off in term time and this is why head teachers are best placed to make the decision. The Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010 state that head teachers have a discretionary power to authorise leave for a family holiday during term time where parents seek permission. Except for exceptional circumstances, no more than 10 days’ leave should be granted for this purpose.”
Jane Douglas, from Pembrokeshire Parents Want A Say, raised parents’ concerns about restrictions on term time absence with the Petitions Committee.
Speaking at the Senedd, she said: “A ‘family holiday’ doesn’t necessarily mean a trip on a plane abroad – it means the opportunity for families to spend time together wherever they choose to do that. Attempts to limit schools statutory powers to authorise absence for family holidays raises some serious concerns for families in Wales.
“At present we have a situation across Wales where head teachers’ powers are variable; where, in some parts of the country, local authorities permit schools to grant absence for term time holidays, while there are other areas such as Rhonda Cynon Taf where the local authority have taken a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to authorising family holidays – effectively a ban.
“Head teachers tell us they need flexibility to authorise absence because they know their pupils best, the circumstance of the families and their pupils’ learning needs. Families feel this flexibility is incredibly important to them because family life is complex, working patterns are complex, it can be difficult to find time to spend together”