Absent in search of a tan

4th December 1998 at 00:00
ATTENDANCE targets are being ruined because parents are hauling their children out of school for off-peak holidays, Aberdeen has warned.

One city secondary recorded 1,000 half-day absences between the start of the term in August and the October break as families sped off to the sun.

Some primaries have returned between 300 and 400 half-day absences for similar reasons.

John Stodter, the city's director of education, said high levels of authorised absences were "fairly common". Parents were ignoring pleas about attendance and the effects on attainment.

"They, wrongly, think it is OK to take two weeks out of the school term. If you can improve attendance, your attainment targets will go up," Mr Stodter said.

Schools are expected to set targets for attendance and submit them to the Scottish Office audit unit as part of the target-setting initiative. Attendance targets are based on the average number of half days' absence per pupil. Schools are meant to use the benchmarking information provided by the Scottish Office to minimise absence.

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