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'Victory for parent power and common sense'

2016 Ionawr 15 1:25 PM

A petition submitted to the National Assembly for Wales' Petitions Committee, Chaired by William Powell AM, has resulted in clarification from the Education Minister, Huw Lewis, that parents can take their children out of school during term-time if they seek permission from headteachers. Mr Lewis issued a letter to all headteachers clarifying the nation's policy on term-time absence.

William Powell, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales and Chair of the National Assembly Petitions Committee expressed his delight at the outcome:

"For too long now, certain Local Authorities in Wales have been engaging in a cynical game of 'pass the parcel' on this issue.

"It is clear that the Minister's intention, contrary to what applies in England, is for the discretion of individual head teachers to be respected. Indiscriminate use of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) is dubious in terms of legality, as well as being highly detrimental to the crucial home - school relationship.

"The Minister's response to the petitioners, in the light of compelling evidence received, is, in my view, a victory for common sense. However, the central question now is how responsive Local Education Authorities and consortia are going to be, in the face of ministerial direction.

"It is really positive to see how the Petitioners have succeeded in bringing their concerns to the very heart of Welsh Government. The indiscriminate use of fixed fines in the case of absence is both illiberal as well as undermining the crucial home - school relationship.

"This is a genuine result both for the Petitioners, who happen to hail from my Region of Mid & West Wales, but also for the Petitions process in our National Assembly. I salute those who helped to achieve this."

Bethany Walpole-Wroe, Campaigner, Let Children in Wales Have a Family Holiday During Term Time, expressed her delight at this latest development:

"We are delighted that Huw Lewis has now written directly to the Head Teachers in this way. We hope now that we will see the Head Teachers starting to exercise that discretion and the Consortia conceding to stop applying pressure for blanket bans. We would also like to see parents who have been unlawfully fined able to get that refunded."