School offers children week off in term time

Simon CoxImage copyright Woodlands
Image caption Simon Cox: “We’re trying to work with our families”

A secondary school is offering parents the chance to take their children out of school for one week in July next year for an “enrichment week”.

Woodlands School in Basildon says this will allow parents of pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 to give them “opportunities that are more affordable”.

Pupils will have to complete a booklet outlining what they have learned.

The move comes as data shows rising numbers of pupils in England are being taken out of school to go on holiday.

In his letter to parents, head teacher Simon Cox says 15 to 19 July 2019 will be set aside for an “enrichment week”.

“It is hoped that this will allow you to provide opportunities that are more affordable as they are out of the school holidays,” the letter says.

“A full list of enrichment activities will be provided in school during this week and full attendance is expected unless the enrichment week documents have been completed.”

The letter ends: “Holidays at any other time of the year will not be granted and this enrichment week is not transferable to any other week in the school year.”

Families who take up the offer will need to fill in a leave of absence form and pupils will have to complete an educational booklet while out of school that week.

Holiday requests

Mr Cox told the BBC News website that the booklet would cover modern languages, history, geography, maths and English.

“If, for example, a family went to Greece, we’d need to see that they have mastered some basic communication, for geography we’d need to see key information around GDP and population, for history, the type of place and how the past has impacted, English would be about literature and maths will centre around currency.”

Pupils whose parents do not take up this offer will be expected to attend school as normal.

He added: “We get an awful lot of holiday requests – well over 150 a year.

“Our authorised holiday is already 1% and we’ve got 2.9% unauthorised absence.

“We’re the second highest finer in Essex for unauthorised absence.”

Mr Cox says the school, which is the fifth most deprived in Essex and has 44% of pupils eligible for the pupil premium, wants to give its pupils opportunities to be successful.

“We need to give our pupils an opportunity to do enrichment activities and encourage families to do something worthwhile.

“We’re trying to work with our families, it’s about relationships and we have to pursue that.”

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