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Take the Family › Studies into Effects of Term-time Holidays Published

Studies into Effects of Term-time Holidays Published

Monday 31 October 2016

Term time holidays

Analysis carried out by two scientists has found that term-time holidays have little impact on the attainment of primary school pupils – and indeed may actually be linked to better performance in tests.

Beccy Smith, a theoretical physicist with primary-school-aged children educated partly at school and partly at home, found that pupils who take no authorised holiday absence are less likely to attain level 4 at KS2 than those who take at least one day off for a family trip in term-time.

Dr Smith described as ‘mind-boggling’ the government’s claims about the effects of school absences – that each day missed from school ‘can mean a child is less likely to achieve good grades, which can have a damaging effect on their life chances’.

‘I thought it was particularly unbelievable that taking them out of school for one day to go to a museum could have any effect at all,’ said Dr Smith.

Smiths’ research was backed up by Alan Barr, a physicist involved with the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, who has also been studying absence data. He agreed that Dr Smith’s analysis demonstrates that ‘overall reduced attainment at KS2 is correlated strongly with illness, but not with agreed holidays’.

Pupils who take no authorised holiday absence ‘are likely to do worse than those who do take at least one day’, he commented.

Since September 2013, school heads have only allowed to authorise term-time absences in ‘exceptional circumstances’, but the clampdown on term-time holidays is being contested in the courts.

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