Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Olympics Set to Trigger a Race for Term-Time Holidays: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Olympics Set to Trigger a Race for Term-Time Holidays: News

Article excerpt

Schools may find themselves 'inundated' with requests for leave.

for most of the capital's schools, the idea of Olympic disruption is remote. That this enormous infrastructure project may interfere with the day-to-day antics of the classroom seems little more than hypothetical, especially because the three-week extravaganza falls within the summer holidays.

But a missive from the Department for Education this week has brought the possible scale of disruption into very sharp focus for London heads. Indeed, teachers have been warned that they could be "inundated" with requests from parents, especially essential workers, to take their children out of school during term time, ahead of the Olympic flame being lit.

The reason? Because of the Games, thousands of Londoners - police officers, firefighters and medics - will be working throughout the summer holidays, with stricter restrictions on when they take leave. In fact, the whole of this summer will be a busy period for the emergency services: as well as the Olympics, they will be on duty during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June.

But the DfE guidance has urged parents not to take their children out of school and to instead "consider other opportunities" such as half-term breaks. School leaders have been told they should consider each request "on its merits" and only grant approval for term-time holidays under "special circumstances".

There will be a heightened police presence from the time the Olympic flame enters the country in May until the Paralympics end in September. On peak days, it is estimated that 12,000 officers - 9,000 in London - will police the Games. It is the biggest ever policing operation in England and forces will bring in restrictions on officers taking annual leave.

Those representing police officers are disappointed with the DfE's response to this issue. John Coppen, the Police Federation's national lead for the Olympics, told TES there was a risk of headteachers being "inundated" with requests from parents to take their children out of school. …

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