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Ryedale mum fighting change to time off school law
A RYEDALE parent has raised concerns over changes in the law which could leave families subject to hefty fines or prosecution for taking their children out of school during term-time.
Ruth Venable, who lives in Ampleforth, says the amendment is denying the basic parenting right to have freedom to make a choice about when they think it reasonable to request time off in the child’s and family’s best interest.
“This new law is controlling in the worst way and may, in fact, encourage parents to blatantly lie to take their children off school a day or two early to get a flight or stay with loved ones,” she said.
“The irresponsible parents that will allow their children to play truant will continue to do so, regardless, and flaunt the law.”
Previously parents have been able to apply for children to be taken out of school for up to 10 days authorised absence to allow attendance at family events, such as ceremonies, graduations and holidays.
From September 1, the law will be amended and parents will no longer be able to apply to take children from school for anything other than ‘exceptional circumstances’.
Mrs Venable said it was particularly upsetting for her family as her husband is American and their children have dual nationality.
“All the paternal family are in the USA and we feel like the Atlantic Ocean has just increased in size as this new law is going to make it very difficult for us to ever spend quality time with our family again,” she said.
Mrs Venable said many teachers she had spoken to had also felt the new regulations ridiculous and ill-thought out and pointed out that in Ryedale there were many farming families who take their young people out of school each year for a day or two to participate and help with agricultural shows.
“This experience is not only educational but a part of some farming families’ heritage – under new law they will now be fined, even prosecuted,” she said.
Mrs Venable said she urged people to sign an online petition and write to their local MP.
In a letter sent to schools across North Yorkshire, Peter Dwyer, the county council’s corporate director of Children and Young People’s Services, said the Department for Education required local authorities to implement government amendments to the regulations regarding the taking of leave of absence in term-time, which would come into force on September 1.
“The new law gives no entitlement to parents to take their child on holiday during term-time,” he said.
“Headteachers would not be expected to class any term-time holiday as exceptional, therefore they will only be able to grant leave of absence in exceptional circumstances and this will still be at the discretion of the headteacher.”
Mr Dwyer added: “Where a child is taken out of school for the purpose of leave of absence in term-time without the permission of the school, the absence will be coded as unauthorised and as such may result in a penalty notice. Penalties are applied by the local authority and as such are not at the discretion of the headteacher. If a penalty notice is not paid, the matter may be taken to prosecution in the magistrates court.”
“I would reiterate that taking a pupil on leave during term-time interrupts teaching and learning and can disrupt a child’s educational progress.”
The online petitions can be found at: