Moves to tackle term time trips

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PARENTS from Sheffield’s ethnic communities are to be given face-to-face warnings on the consequences of taking their children out of school for extended holidays abroad.

Education officials are planning a series of meetings at schools most affected by the practice, which often sees pupils missing weeks of lessons while they visit family members overseas.

Parents will be warned if their children spend more than six weeks away their place at school could be at risk if the primary or secondary is full and other youngsters are on the waiting list.

The Star’s Your Right To Know campaign discovered last month that during 2009-10 nearly 400 pupils took a full month or more off at a time - but not one family was prosecuted as a result.

More than 4,000 days of schooling were lost during the same period through such absences.

Executive director of children’s services Dr Sonia Sharp said there was issue with a child making a once-in-a-lifetime trip to their family’s country of origin.

“But there are children who go back every two years or who are away for several months at a time. The data shows that in these cases the child’s education suffers significantly,” she said.

“We know that these families do want their best for their youngsters - so we want to help them understand the real impact these absences can have, and how long it can take a child to catch up.”

The meetings will be part of a broader campaign seeking to persuade parents not to take holidays of any kind during term time.

Dr Sharp said any pupil taking agreed extended leave by their school would be given proper support through a distance learning programme.