Number of unauthorised family holidays rises by 12%

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The number of pupils missing school for unauthorised family holidays has increased by 12 per cent in a year, according to new Government statistics.

In response, the Government has vowed to do 'everything in its power' to stop children being taken out of school without permission.

Figures from the Department for Education show that 270,220 pupils skipped school during the autumn term last year to go on a family holiday that had not been agreed. Over the same period in 2014 there were 241,290 such absences. The number of pupils missing school for authorised family holidays, however, fell by 5 per cent to 73,395.

Schools minister, Nick Gibb, said the Government was doing everything in its power to ensure head teachers are able to keep children in school.

At the moment parents can get permission from a head teacher for a term-time absence, but only in 'exceptional circumstances' like the death of a relative.

But the rules on permitted absences have drawn the ire of parents because of the increased cost of booking a trip during the official school holidays.

Mr Gibb also warned that the UK must not return to a 'Dickensian world where the needs of industry and commerce' trump the need to educate amid fears that the current system of school holidays hurts the tourism industry.

The latest figures, obtained from school censuses, also showed that the overall absence rate had decreased.

In autumn 2014, the absence rate was 4.4 per cent in state primary and secondary schools. It fell to 4.1 per cent in autumn 2015 - mainly due to a decline in illness absences.

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