EVESHAM’S MP has spoken out to urge the Government to be more flexible over the ‘strict’ rules on school term-time holidays.
Nigel Huddleston joined 15 other MPs in a debate last Monday (October 26) where they called on education ministers to reconsider the changes to their school term-time holiday policy that was introduced in 2013.
The new tougher rules prevent parents taking their children out of school during term time unless under exceptional circumstances, if they do they could face a fine of up to £60 per child.
Speaking to the Observer, the Mid-Worcestershire MP said the changes to term-time holiday rules was important in cracking down on the growing issue of truancy.
“I am sympathetic both to parents who want to be able to afford to take their children on holiday and to the Government in its desire to see a reduction in term-time holidays,” Mr Huddleston said.
“These changes were introduced to tackle the burgeoning problem of truancy, partly caused by the persistent and deliberate flouting of the previous rules by a small minority of parents.
“Truancy was allowed to get completely out of control-so much so that, between autumn 2009 and spring 2010, pupils collectively missed 46million days of school.
However, Mr Huddleston would welcome more discretion for parents who have no other option but to take their children on holiday during school time.
“It is of course regrettable that some parents cannot afford holidays outside of term-time but I do not believe this is a reason to give a carte blanche entitlement for children to be taken out of school all year round. This would be disruptive to schools, teachers and pupils.
“I support tight regulation of term-time absences but believe we need greater flexibility and local discretion when parents truly have no other options.
“Schools also need clearer guidance on what constitutes ‘exceptional circumstances’ and what level of discretion is available to them.”