Woodlands School, in Basildon, intends to allow parents who have children in Years 7, 8 and 9 to take part in the “enrichment week” in a bid to reduce the number of unauthorised absences during term-time. The school believes it gives the option for parents to have a more affordable holiday.
Head teacher Simon Cox told HuffPost UK the week (15-19 July 2019) was approved by the government this week. Explaining his decision, Cox said: “We’re the fifth most deprived school in Essex and children are much less advantaged. We are finding our young people are not able to access cultural activities.
“Given the severe deprivation of our school, we had to try and do something affordable for our families so that when the children go to university or get an apprenticeship, they are able to talk about their opportunities.”
Cox said the school is the ranked second highest in Essex for unauthorised absence, with a rate of 2.9%. If parents do not decide to take their kids on the enrichment week, a full list of enrichment activities will be provided in the school during the week and children are expected to attend lessons as usual.
Parents who opt to go on holiday for the week must complete a form explaining how their child’s leave will be enriching. The form asks parents to circle whether the trip will be cultural, spiritual, moral or social. They are also asked to share which enrichment activities they intend to complete during the holiday. While they are away, children are expected to complete an educational booklet.
Cox explained that in the booklet there will be sections to fill in about topics such as English, maths, science, history and geography. Kids will be expected to fill in information and facts about the place they are going and what they do. When they get back to school the following week, there will be a show and tell to other pupils in their class.
“The reaction from parents has been overwhelmingly positive so far,” Cox added. “I’ve had emails from parents from other schools who have told me it’s refreshing to hear. It’s been great.”