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Regular school absence 'more concerning than term-time holidays'

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SCHOOLS should be more concerned about children who regularly miss lessons one day a week than about those who go on holiday during term time, the president of the National Union of Teachers has said.

The latest figures show that a fifth of primary school pupil absences in the last year were due to parents taking their children on holiday, but NUT president Louise Regan believes it is not helpful to fine parents for doing so.

The Education Department has said they do not support holidays in term time, but in certain circumstance headteachers can approve leave.

Ms Regan, who worked in UK primary schools for 27 years, said that each child's case should be looked at individually, and added that there should be no reason why children with 100 per cent attendance should not be allowed to go on a family holiday during term time.

She said: 'Holidays are educational and provide an experience for children. We should not say children do not learn anything when they are not in school.

'Schools should be able to look at what is happening and look at each child case by case. If a child has 100 per cent attendance the rest of the year and they give a good reason why they should be going on holiday during term time, then schools should be allowed to look at that.

'Setting schools up to fine parents is unhelpful. It's the children that miss one day a week long-term that we should be concerned about.'

Earlier this year education director Justin Donovan branded the practice of parents taking children out of school 'unacceptable' and said his department was considering changing term time dates, which could help reduce the number of pupil absences due to holidays.

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