Lancing primary school introduces innovative method of tackling pupil absences

Headteacher Lee Murley with Year 6 prefects and pupils of Seaside Primary School SUS-190522-103744001
Headteacher Lee Murley with Year 6 prefects and pupils of Seaside Primary School SUS-190522-103744001

A Lancing primary school has defended plans to extend the summer half-term in a bid to reduce unauthorised absences.

Last year, Seaside Primary School in Freshbrook Road, told parents it was grouping the five statutory Inset training days into a one-week block during June.

The school said the move enabled parents to take a cheaper family holiday outside of national holiday time and would avoid them paying a fine for taking their children out of school during term time.

In a statement, the school said: “The whole point of exploring this approach was to improve the strong relationship we have with our families and community.

“The support from parents has been overwhelmingly positive and genuine, with many of them thanking the school for thinking outside the box and considering that families want their children to have good attendance and love being at the school.”

The move brought criticism from parent Gillian Otsuka, who said parents had been priced out of a holiday club proposed by the school.

A survey in April asked parents what days they would require childcare, at a cost of £65 a day. The price, and a lack of information around what it entailed, put parents off responding, Gillian said.

Parents were subsequently told that only six per cent of parents answered the survey – which the school said made providing childcare unviable.

Gillian said this had forced her and other parents to take the week off work.

The school’s statement said it was under no obligation to provide childcare during Inset days and parents were given 14 months of notice to make preparations.

“There have been no Inset days at all this academic year, meaning no parent has had to make any childcare arrangements or take any time off work due to Inset days up to this point,” the school said, adding parents would therefore not be paying more for childcare than in any other year.