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Tsar issues school absence warning

Parents are sometimes overzealous in keeping their child off sick and should send them to school if they have the sniffles, the Government's behaviour tsar has said.

Charlie Taylor also called for a clampdown on term-time holidays warning that youngsters who regularly have time off can end up missing a year of schooling by the time they reach 16.

Mr Taylor, who is head of The Willows, a special school in west London for children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties, said schools must do more to teach parents about the importance of good attendance and to pick up those who are falling into "bad habits".

And he warned that time missed in nursery or primary school was as important as time missed in secondary schools. Speaking as he published his review into attendance in schools, ordered by ministers in the wake of the riots last summer, Mr Taylor suggested that parents can be "trigger happy" in keeping children off sick.

At one West Bromwich school, he said, parents are taught "what represented a sniffle, and what represented something that was genuinely serious enough to keep a child off from school for".

"Some parents think they're being a good parent by keeping their child off school, but actually sometimes they can be a bit trigger happy, particularly with young parents and young children," Mr Taylor said.

He added: "I think it's about if in doubt send them to school, and we say that a lot with our parents. Send them to school, because, you know, sometimes the kid is just playing it."

In his review Mr Taylor also recommends a crackdown on term-time holidays, saying there is often an "automatic assumption" that pupils can have two weeks off a year.

Current legislation says that a pupil may be granted leave to go on holiday if the request has been made in advance, there are special circumstances, and the leave is not more than 10 school days - except in "exceptional circumstances".

Ministers said that they plan to amend these rules in light of Mr Taylor's recommendations.


From Belfast Telegraph