Every lesson counts

Hull North MP Diana Johnson today backed a new drive to cut the number of parents taking their children on holiday during school term-time.

Parents can obtain discounts and free child places on family breaks taken during the school holidays under a new push to tackle absence from schools. The scheme, entitled Every Lesson Counts, was launched today by the Government, joining forces with the travel industry.

The Government has also confirmed that it is expanding the 'Fast Track to Attendance' programme to target over 10,000 'serial truants' who account for 1 in 5 of all instances of truancy across the country, with their parents facing a penalty notice or court prosecution unless their child's attendance improves.

Labour's Diana Johnson MP said: "We all know the importance of keeping children in school during term time. We will struggle to sustain the progress in Hull schools' exam results if attendance figures do not also build on recent improvements.

"The first requirement for youngsters to do well at school is to show up!

"The Every Lesson Counts campaign highlights incentives available to families who book their breaks early for the school holiday periods, rather than opting for a trip during term-time that may disrupt their children's education.

"This scheme gives advice and encouragement to parents to keep their children in school, for example, by planning ahead to book routine appointments outside school hours.

"Holidays can be more expensive when booked late for periods of peak demand and this creates a damaging incentive to take holidays during term time. This campaign gives families guidance on planning and booking vacations early to keep holiday costs down.

"This is another step towards Labour's aim of tackling truancy and making sure young people in Hull receive a full education and the chance to fulfil their potential."

Schools Minister Jacqui Smith said: "Taking a holiday during term-time can mean that children miss important school time and coursework. A term-time holiday is all too often seen as the rule, when it should be the exception.

"I am pleased to have the support of the travel industry in encouraging parents to book early for the school holiday periods, so that they can take a break without disrupting their children's education."

"Under the Government's attendance drive, schools are taking a tougher line on authorising time away from school, leading to record levels of school attendance, with some 50,000 more pupils attending school each day than in 1997."