School term time holiday victory for Wales
Parents have won a dramatic battle on school term time holidays as Welsh Education Minister Huw Lewis insists that he will ensure that Local Education Authorities must comply with the law.
The Minister for Education and Skills has written to all Directors of Education in Wales and Managing Directors of Regional Educational Consortia calling on them to adhere to the education regulations in Wales which give all headteachers statutory powers to authorise leave for family holidays during term time. He has advised them that blanket bans on term time holidays are contrary to Welsh education regulations.
Mr Lewis has also stated that he will be writing to headteachers to make this position clear.
The Minister was responding to a letter written by the Chair of the Welsh Assembly Petitions Committee, following a Petitions Committee meeting in the Senedd to discuss two petitions on the issue of term time leave that have received over 1,800 signatures between them.
Up until now many Local Authorities in Wales were advising their schools against authorising term time leave, and some had imposed blanket bans on approval of requests for term time leave regardless of family circumstances.
In his letter, Huw Lewis has stated: “The Regulations in Wales provide for head teachers to exercise their discretion in relation to authorising absence for up to 10 days per year. The term ‘exceptional circumstances’ relates only to requests for absences of more than ten school days.” The Minister has also reiterated parents’ right to challenge where unlawful penalties have been issued.
Hundreds of families have been fined for absence from school for family holidays in the Local Authority areas which had blanket bans in place. Many of these fines could have been issued for absences which should have been allowed under Welsh law.
The Petitions Committee pointed out that many local authorities had incorrect information regarding term time leave on their websites and this needs to be investigated urgently.
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