A campaign group setup following the introduction of term time holiday bans, will be presenting evidence at the Welsh Assembly today.
The group, 'Let Children in Wales have a Holiday During Term Time', which was founded by a Ceredigion mother of three, Bethany Walpole-Wroe, opposes the widespread blanket ban on any absence during term time. According to the campaign group, there are a wide range of reasons why children may need time off during term time, and instigating a blanket ban removes the ability for the head teacher to assess each case individually. The petition has attracted more than 15,000 signatures.
As part of the evidence session, the campaign group will be presenting results from a survey of more than 1,000 parents based across every region of Wales. According to the survey, only 17% of parents would not take their children out of school during term time. 38% have already done so, since the guidelines came in.
The survey also highlighted that in the last week of term, only 12% of schools continued to work hard until the last moment, with 45% playing games and 42% watching videos. Whilst the campaign group has stated it is not against the end of term wind down, it believes that taking children on holiday in the last couple of weeks of term will not mean missing out on important school work in most cases.
Another alarming statistic to be presented is the impact on the parent/school relationship, with 61% of respondents claiming the rulings have negatively impacted the relationship with their child's school.
The group will also present evidence from a survey carried out by the Family Holiday Association, in which 43.9% of parents reported that their child's school attendance actually improved following a holiday organised by the charity. 58.5% of parents also reported an improvement of behaviour at school, and 82.8% of parents stated that their child's behaviour at home improved following the holiday.
The official guidelines from the Welsh Government allow for up to ten days absence per year for every pupil. The First Minister, Carwyn Jones has been quoted as stating that there "cannot be a blanket ban" when questioned by a member of the campaign group on BBC Radio Wales. However, due to pressure from the government to increase attendance figures, and from the councils, most schools across Wales are not authorizing any absence.
The group will be putting forward a number of proposals, including providing head teachers with a clear set of guidelines around when they can authorise an absence.
"We are pleased to have been invited to present evidence to the Welsh Assembly," commented Bethany Walpole-Wroe, Campaigner, Let Children in Wales have a Holiday During Term Time. "These guidelines have a myriad of knock-on effects for individual families, which have not been properly considered, and are causing rifts between parents and schools."