Taking children out of school during term time for holidays is back in the press once again. The High Court has backed father Jon Platt who refused to pay the fine he was issued after taking his six-year-old daughter out of school for a trip to Florida.
Term time absences
My husband and I have hugely differing views about this. I categorically would not take my daughter out of school for the purpose of going on holiday. My husband thinks taking a child out of school during term time is an absolute no-brainer. I totally get why people do it and why he has this view. For the sake of shifting the departure date by a week savings can run into £100s of pounds for a family. Obviously that’s very appealing and a £60 fine is no deterrent at all in this scenario. I absolutely deplore the travel industry for creating this situation and realise that sky-high costs during school holidays can be a barrier to many.
I have never wanted to take my seven-year-old daughter out of school for even a day (obviously I would if there were extenuating circumstances). She takes her attendance at school very seriously and really wouldn’t want to miss a day. I think her consistent attendance has contributed significantly to her attainment in general. I also know how many new things she learns in the course of a week. I think it’d be really disruptive to her learning and unsettling for her on a social level to take her out term time for a whole week.
I don’t really buy the argument that the main reason for pulling kids out of school for holidays is that they form an integral part of their learning. Whilst our holidays usually do contain a fair amount of culture, the primary reason for going is just to have fun and chill out as a family; I’m sure this is everyone’s main motivation.
Let’s turn it around… Teachers are similarly constrained and have to take their holidays out of term time. Imagine if a child’s teacher absconded for a week. Parents would be up in arms and would say that a week’s absence would seriously impact their child’s learning.
Teachers work hard enough as it is, do they really need the extra burden of getting children that have missed a week back up to speed?
Could there be a solution?
For me, the key is to make it as difficult for the travel industry as possible. Could different counties stagger their holidays? I know a number of schools in Nottinghamshire whose Easter 2016 holiday deviated quite a bit from ours in Surrey. Could this be rolled out further? Or could the lead be taken from the South Wales school, which used all five of its inset days consecutively to create an additional week holiday?