Headmaster praised for letting children go on holiday during TERM TIME

Headmaster is praised by This Morning viewers for allowing parents to take their children on holiday during a week in TERM TIME – but others say they’re ‘sick’ of pupils missing lessons

  • Woodlands School in Basildon, Essex, to allow pupils to go on term time holiday
  • For one week next year parents of children in year 7, 8 and 9 will be allowed off 
  • Head Simon Cox said it’ll help close ‘deprivation gap’ that means pupils miss out
  • This Morning viewers said it would allow parents to make ‘valuable memories’ 

Parents have praised a headteacher for allowing children to take a week off during term time – to allow families to spend time together.  

Simon Cox, who is headteacher at Woodlands School in Basildon, Essex, explained how he made the decision to close the ‘deprivation gap’ that stops his pupils from going away during the school holidays.

Speaking on This Morning, he said children will have to present to their peers what they’ve done during the ‘enrichment week’ – which will be the penultimate week before the end of the school year.

Viewers were quick to praise the ‘brilliant’ idea, saying that it allows parents to make ‘valuable memories’ with their children.

However, some said they were ‘sick’ of parents taking children out of lessons, and questioned what would happen if teachers also decided to go on holiday during term time.

Simon Cox, who is headteacher at Woodlands School in Basildon, Essex, explained why he’s allowing parents to take their children out of school for a week during term time 

Speaking on This Morning about his new initiative, Mr Cox said: ‘We’ve decided to create a week at the end of the school year where parents can take children away on an enrichment activity and holiday.

‘It has to be spiritual, moral, social, cultural. Parents need to list the activities they do when away. 


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‘When you come back for the second week, [the children are] going to present to your peers what you’ve done, what you’ve learned.’

The headteacher explained how he made the decision to create an ‘enrichment week’ as ‘mental health’ among children is a significant problem.

Parents have praised the ‘brilliant’ idea, saying that it will help parents make ‘valuable memories’ with their children  

He added that 40 per cent of his children are on  the pupil premiums, describing how many of their pupils ‘miss out on opportunities’ due to the ‘deprivation gap’.

Many parents heaped praise on the headteacher for his decision to allow parents to take their children out of school for one week of term.

One viewer commented: ‘Absolutely brilliant #headteacher on #ThisMorning allowing 1 enrichment holiday per year with learning criteria. 

‘The can do’s and cant do’s of summer holidays are so unfair to less well off families but disrupting the learning unfair on teachers. A great solution.’

 

However, others said they were ‘sick’ of parents taking children out of school during term time

Another added: ‘#ThisMorning completely agree with the headteacher regarding school holidays. 

‘Children need well rounded lives and can learn and benefit so much from seeing the world and spending time with family.’   

However, some were less convinced by the proposal – and questioned what would happen if teachers decided to do the same.

One commented: ‘My daughter is a teacher how would these parents feel if teachers took term time off . 

‘I am sick of these parents putting their kids education second to holiday.’

Mr Cox explained how children will have to present to their peers what they’ve done during the ‘enrichment week’ 

Another added: ‘What about teachers who also have to pay through the nose to go away during school holidays? Can we take time off during term time?!’   

In a letter to parents, Mr Cox explained how pupils in years seven, eight and nine will be allowed July 15 to 19 2019 off.

The school, which has 1,500 pupils, added it will allow parents to give their children ‘opportunities that are more affordable’ – but those pupils granted the week off will still have work to do.

Head teacher Simon Cox said if the pupils are taken out of school that week they must complete an educational booklet showing what they have learned.

He told the BBC: ‘If, for example, a family went to Greece, we’d need to see that they have mastered some basic communication, for geography we’d need to see key information around GDP and population, for history, the type of place and how the past has impacted, English would be about literature and maths will centre around currency.’ 

The headteacher said it will help with the mental health of his pupils, and stop them from missing out on opportunities  

A letter to parents at Woodlands School, which has more than 1,500 pupils, explained that pupils in years seven, eight and nine will be allowed July 15 to 19 2019 off

Parents who decide to take their children out during that week will have to fill out a leave of absence form and ensure their child completes the educational booklet.

For those pupils who remain in school that week, Mr Cox said ‘a full list of enrichment activities will be provided that week’.

The letter to parents ends: ‘Holidays at any other time of the year will not be granted and this enrichment week is not transferable to any other week in the school year.’

HOLIDAYS IN SCHOOL TERM TIME: WHAT ARE THE RULES?

You can be fined for taking your child on holiday during term time without the school’s permission.

Your local council can give you a fine of £60, which rises to £120 if you don’t pay within 21 days. 

If you don’t pay the fine after 28 days you may be prosecuted for your child’s absence from school.

The maximum penalty: You could get a fine of up to £2,500, a community order or a jail sentence up to 3 months. 

The court will also give you a Parenting Order.  

The school made the decision to offer the enrichment week as children are still being taken on foreign holidays during academic term-time – regardless of both £60 fines and government warnings to the contrary. 

He added: ‘We get an awful lot of holiday requests – well over 150 a year. Our authorised holiday is already 1 per cent and we’ve got 2.9 per cent unauthorised absence.’ 

The announcement was met with praise from parents at the school who labelled it a ‘great move’.

Darren Sheard, 42, said: ‘It is a good idea. Certain families who can’t afford to take their children away there’s a benefit and they are learning too. 

‘It is not cheap to take your family away, even in this country you are looking at over £1,000. 

‘My mate is going to Vegas with his wife and two daughters and it has cost him £12,000.’ 

Karen Batman, 44, said: ‘It is a great idea and it is a shame we are going to miss out as my son wont be in year nine when it happens – it is a fantastic opportunity they are giving the pupils. 

‘We can’t afford to go away in the school holidays all the time, we have to think if it is a day out or a week away. 

‘It is not just about going abroad there is so much to see in this country which they wouldn’t be able to see before.’  


Parents Darren Sheard, left, and Karen Batman, right, were among those who praised the move

More pupils took term-time holidays last year, according to new figures, while the proportion of parents fined for taking their youngsters out of school without permission fell.

Official figures show around one in six youngsters (16.9%) missed at least a half day of lessons during the 2016/17 academic year, compared to 14.7% the year before.

Separate data published by the Department for Education shows the number of penalty notices issued to mothers and fathers for their child’s unauthorised absence dropped by 5.4% between the two academic years.

The majority of fines issued – more than three-quarters (77.5%) – were for unauthorised holidays, the statistics show.

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