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Absence for holidays: Lost days of learning?

Press Release: March 18, 2010

Press Release
The Geography Collective

Lost days of learning?

In advance of 2008/2009 Pupil Absence in England statistics release: 25th March 2010

"Black and white, reductionist approaches to term time holidays are not appropriate for 21st century learners. A holistic policy is needed which recognises and takes advantage of the potential for children to learn outside the classroom with their family" argues former Head of Geography and member of The Geography Collective, Daniel Raven-Ellison.

"In this next cycle of absence statistics holidays will continue to be the second biggest reason for absence from school and families will continue to be publicly slammed by Education Welfare Officers. Its time for the public debate about holidays stops being monopolised by target hungry officials so we can start a progressive conversation on how we can tap the potential of holidays for learning. Clearly, visiting new people, places and environments offers more potential for learning than the confines of a classroom and the current reductionist approach to term-time holidays does nothing to support learning in term-time holidays, the vast majority of which are authorised

In 2007/2008 family holidays accounted for 6.2 million absent school days, 86% of which were authorised by head teachers. Schools are legally required to provide learning activities for able students while they are missing school. This needs to be reinforced so that with perhaps the exception of holidays as a result of bereavement, a new code needs to be created for registers that allows for educational or learning holidays. These holidays would replace the current code and evidence would need to be provided of the learning that has taken place.

This approach to learning on holidays would actively support the curriculum and specific agendas including Learning Outside the Classroom and the Global Dimension."

To address this issue The Geography Collective has created a small passport-sized interactive book for 8 to 14-year-olds called the Journey Journal. Unlike most activity books that aim to occupy children on holiday the Journey Journal encourages critical and creative thinking to encourage children to (re)think about the places they visit. The book not only provokes alternative thinking and discussion but can be used to provide evidence of learning as well as to share experiences with family and friends.

Holidays in term time are often labelled at lost days of learning. The reality is that you can learn so much by visiting new places and while there may not be targets, tests and assessments that does not mean children are not learning.. they are.


DCSF: Pupil Absence in Schools in England, Including Pupil Characteristics: 2008/09 will be available at http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000918/index.shtml from 25.03.2010.

The Geography Collective (LLP) is a partnership of geography teachers, artists and academics. The Journey Journal is jointly published with Can of Worms Kids Press. 10% of every sale is donated to the charity TravelPledge. The following book Mission:Explore which aims to increase outdoor play and reduce risk aversion is being published during Outdoor Adventure Week (10.04.2010).

Learning Outside the Classroom

Global Dimension

Further information
Daniel Raven-Ellison 07920 116 748 mygeographyteacher@googlemail.com
The Geography Collective www.geographycollective.co.uk
Journey Journal www.journeyjournal.co.uk
Mission:Explore www.missionexplore.co.uk
Twitter: @geocollective

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact:

Daniel Raven-EllisonDaniel Raven-Ellison

Tel: 07920 116 74807920 116 748

Email: mygeographyteacher@googlemail.commygeographyteacher@googlemail.com

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