Wigan bucking the trend for parents taking their children on holiday during term time

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The borough is spectacularly bucking worrying regional and national trends for parents taking their children on holiday during term time.

Just 42 penalty notices were issued in Wigan to families for unauthorised breaks when pupils were expected to be in lessons in 2017-18, according to statistics from the Department for Education (DfE).

That is at the same time North West figures for absences have reached record levels, with the region now having the country’s highest level of parents jetting off with their kids during the school terms.

The comparatively-paltry figures for Wigan also stand in stark contrast to the thousands of notices being dished out for term-time holidays in some neighbouring boroughs of Greater Manchester.

Wigan Council says the numbers of penalty notices being dished out are also coming down.

The town hall also sent out a strong message that taking children on holidays in term time does damage their prospects of getting the best education they can.

Cath Pealing, interim assistant director for education at Wigan Council said: “There is a proven link between good attendance at school and the progress young people make through their education, which is why Wigan Council and local schools work in partnership to ensure good attendance rates across all our schools.

“Education penalty notices are only ever issued in instances of irregular school attendance and unauthorised absences.

“The number of penalty notices issued in 2017-18 was lower than the previous academic year due to the local authority revising how it issues penalty notices to ensure the process is fit for purpose.

“The new process was put in place in January 2019 following consultation with schools.

“We will continue to work with partners and schools to ensure that all of our children and young people have access to a quality and valuable

education.”

The process of dishing out education penalty notices was halted in April 2018 while the authorities consulted with schools to ensure it was fit for purpose.

Wigan Council says this helped contribute to recent local reductions in holiday penalty notices.

The figure for the borough certainly stands in stark contrast to elsewhere in Greater Manchester.

There were 3,768 penalty notices for term-time holidays in Rochdale, 2,669 in Manchester, 2,443 in Salford. Of the 10 boroughs in Greater Manchester only Trafford and Bolton, in addition to Wigan, had fewer than 1,000 fines doled out, with the borough’s by far the smallest.

The stats also show in total 240 penalty notices were issued in the borough in 2017-18.

As well as unauthorised holidays education penalty notices can be given when parents do not declare the reason their child is absent, the school does not accept the explanation given or children are repeatedly late and miss registration.