Cornish school to reduce impact of term-time holiday rules

Head of School at Bishop Bronescombe C of E School in St Austell, Katie Dalton, with one of the younger pupils Head of School Katie Dalton said many of her parents are seasonal workers and low earners which is fairly common in Cornwall

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A school is to put all its teacher-training days together to give children an extra week off in term time to help parents get cheaper holiday deals.

Parents are only allowed to take children out of school in "exceptional circumstances" or face fines.

Bishop Bronescombe C of E School in St Austell, Cornwall, is creating the extra week at the end of the May half-term holiday.

Cornwall Council said it was up to schools to plan their inset days.

Changes to the law, which came into force on 1 September, mean head teachers no longer have the discretion to grant authorised leave to pupils each year.

The new rules are aimed at preventing children missing vital parts of their education, which the the Department for Education (DfE) said can have a "hugely damaging effect".

But some parents have said they cannot afford to pay the premium prices travel companies charge during official school holidays.

'Better deals'

The head of school at Bishop Bronescombe, Katie Dalton, said it would be putting the five teacher training days together in the summer term.

"Lots of our parents are low wage earners, which is typical in Cornwall, and also they are seasonal workers, which makes it very difficult for them to get a family holiday together, that is actually affordable.

"By putting the inset days all together in the summer term, it means they can take advantage of better deals and prices and it improves our attendance figures as well because there are less requests for leave during term time," she said.

Deborah Smith, who has two children at the school, welcomed the move.

"They said they understood lots of the parents down here are seasonal workers and they understand about the current economical climate and that budgets are tight for families, so I thought that was really important that the school were acknowledging and recognising the difficulty of paying for holidays," she said.

'Poor attendance'

In a statement the DfE said: "Poor attendance at school can have a hugely damaging effect, and children who attend school regularly are nearly four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs than those who are regularly absent.

"That is why we have given schools more power to tackle poor attendance and allowed them to intervene much earlier.

"We have also increased the amount parents can be fined for unauthorised absences and cut the amount of time they have to pay."

In July, the government also announced plans to give all schools the autonomy to set their own term dates.

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