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New policy in Neath Port Talbot on school absences will hit armed forces families

September 19, 2013 3:24 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has written to Neath Port Talbot Council questioning why they did not take the families of who have members serving in the armed forces into account when they changed their policy on authorised school absences.

The Council has recently adopted a policy of absolutely refusing permission for children to go on holidays during term times, with little or no flexibility for schools to take into account attendance records or extraordinary circumstances when evaluating requests. This includes children who have a parent in the armed forces, who do not always have a choice of when to take leave.

Commenting on the new policy, Mr. Black said: "Whilst I appreciate that this change is intended to increase the number of days children spend in school, it is likely that one of the unintended consequences is that the families of those serving in the armed forces do not get to spend quality time together.

"Those serving cannot simply take a week off at times convenient to themselves but are dictated to by the Ministry of Defence. Often these families go months without seeing the serving parent. It is because of this that I believe an exception should be made for these families to allow them take holidays during term time at the discretion of the headteacher concerned. I hope that Neath Port Talbot Council will look seriously at making this amendment to their policy."