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Take holidays in school holidays, urges education boss

By David G Scott

PARENTS are being urged to think carefully before taking their children out of school on a holiday.

A letter sent out by Highland Council's interim head of education, Nicky Grant, asks parents to give their support to an "important matter" for their schools.

"While the vast majority of parents plan family holidays within the allocated 12 weeks during the year, there has been an increasing trend for some parents to remove pupils from schools for holidays," Ms Grant says in the letter.

She asks parents to "carefully consider the implications" on their child’s education if they decide to remove them from school for a family trip.

"I do so in the full knowledge that it is not always possible to plan a holiday in the designated school holiday periods.

"For some parents, summer is a very busy time and a holiday cannot be taken then but I would encourage the use of our two-week October holiday period if you are in this category."

A letter was issued to parents of pupils at Wick High School and other schools within the Highland region.Picture: DGS
A letter was issued to parents of pupils at Wick High School and other schools within the Highland region.Picture: DGS

Ms Grant says that part of the strategy to raise standards of achievement involves minimising absence levels.

"Parents play a vital role in ensuring their son or daughter attends school as much as possible."

In the letter, the interim head stresses the implications of taking children out of school in term time in a series of bullet points.

"When considering whether or not to exercise your right to remove your children from school for a family holiday, please be aware that such a decision:

● will result in a significant loss in classroom experience

● will result in a pressure to "catch up" on missed work by pupils

● could result in pupils missing assessments with consequential impact on pupils and teachers

● could result in the loss of curricular activities

● will affect school attendance records and efforts to raise standards of attendance

● under the guidance issued at a national level, most family holidays will be coded as unauthorised absence – only in exceptional cases will the absence be recorded as authorised.

At the end of the letter there is a link to school holiday dates, heavily stressed, to aid parents in planning their breaks.

"If you do decide to make holiday arrangements during term time, you should confirm this in writing to your head teacher," she adds.

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