Thousands of parents throughout the UK are being urged to take part in a nation-wide poll on the controversial issue of school term time absences.
The survey has been launched on the website 'Parents Want a Say' (PWAS) who have been campaigning for more than 18 months to reverse the amendments made to term time family holiday rules. Respondents will be in with the chance of winning a free iPad Mini.
Prior to September 1, 2013, head teachers had the discretion to allow up to ten days authorised absence from school during term time. Now head teachers are only able to grant leave to pupils under "exceptional circumstances”, however no guidance has been provided by the Government to define what this means.
As a result of the amendments to term time holiday rules, if a parent’s request for leave is unauthorised, each parent may be fined £60 per child, rising to £120 if not paid within 21 days. If the fine is unpaid after 28 days court proceedings can be initiated with a fine of up to £2,500 and a possible jail sentence of up to three months.
There has been much controversy surrounding the fining of parents who have taken their children out of school during term time, with cases receiving particular attention involving children attending family weddings, funerals and special occasions only to return to fines issued by their Local Education Authorities.
PWAS believes that the current situation is unfairly criminalising families for wanting to enjoy quality time together. Parents are not saying that taking children out of school for family holidays is an absolute right, but are asking for the rules to revert back to those that were in place before the amendment was made, where the head teacher could decide.
Schools should recognise their duty as public bodies under the Human Rights Legislation to take each case on its own merits and not make blanket decisions. The Education Authority, National Association of Head Teachers and National Union of Teachers have yet to sit down with parents themselves to discuss this matter, and no statistical evidence has been provided to suggest that pupil attainment will be improved by changing the law on term time absences.
Craig Langman, co-founder of PWAS, said: "The bottom line is that we need the amendments to the term time family holiday rules reversed. Families are being unfairly criminalised by wanting to spend time together and it is about time the Government realises that this one-size-fits-all policy just doesn’t work."
For further information visit www.parentswantasay.co.uk