Bid to allow military parents to 
take children away during term

Portsmouth MP enlists in armed forces scheme

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THE law should be changed to make clear people in the armed forces can take their children on holiday during term-time, broadcaster Floella Benjamin has said.

Lady Benjamin said servicemen and women had been fined for taking children out of school despite the fact they are often unable to take breaks during school holidays because they are on tours of duty.

A crackdown on truancy launched by former education secretary Michael Gove means parents who take their children out of school without permission can face fines and even jail if they refuse to pay.

Lady Benjamin, a Lib Dem peer, said the charity Give Us Time, which supports family life for service personnel, was coming up against hurdles.

‘Leave time doesn’t always coincide with school holidays and a soldier was fined £500 for taking his children on holiday during school term,’ she said.

She asked Baroness Jolly, who was answering for the government: ‘Given the difficulties of tour cycles and not always being able to give advance notice, will the government encourage schools to show leniency to military families by allowing their children short periods of absence from school during term time and perhaps even amending the law to include these cases as exceptional circumstances?’

Lady Jolly replied: ‘The Ministry of Defence has been in discussion about absence from school with the Department for Education including the issue of operational needs of the armed forces preventing families from taking leave during school holidays.’

She added: ‘Service personnel are aware that the nature of their job is such that their family life could be different to that experienced by civilians.’