PARENTS who pull their kids out of school and take them to Bali during the term have been warned by the Education Department that they are breaking the law.
The warning was issued during a WA parliamentary inquiry into school attendance last week.
Numbers released recently showed that in the first semester of 2017, 13.9 per cent of all unauthorised absences were due to parents taking their kids on unauthorised holidays.
Almost 40 per cent of these absences were from schools in the highest socioeconomic areas.
Just three per cent of unauthorised holidays were at schools in the lowest socioeconomic areas.
During the inquiry, Education Department director Alan Dodson said the department was “battling some other issues here”.
“Even in the mid to high socioeconomic area, we have an increase in the number of families who think it is okay to take their kids on holidays, and fly in, fly out issues, and all the rest, where the holiday thing has become a big thing.
“We have made it very clear it is an unauthorised absence to take your kid out, dare I say it, on multiple times during the year to Bali or somewhere else, and that is a newish phenomena that is being addressed.”
Following a question from Mount Lawley MLA Simon Millman, Mr Dodson confirmed that attendance in “the last few years” at schools in high socioeconomic areas had dropped because parents were taking their children to Bali.
Mr Millman claimed that attendance was improving at places like Armadale, while becoming worse at schools in Mount Lawley because the students were going on holiday.
Mr Dodson said unexplained absences came down to parent choices despite it being the law that children attend school.
Education Department director general Sharyn O’Neill reiterated that it was against the law for parents to pull their kids out of school.
“I just had a parent saying to me the other day when I was in the shops, and it was their child’s birthday, and so they had their birthday off,” she said.
The department was not able to provide figures on how many kids had time off school for their birthdays.