Yesterday, I woke up to my usual routine of eating my breakfast whilst watching Bill Turnbull and Louise Minchin. They were discussing term-time holidays with Jon Platt who took his 6 year old daughter to Florida on a once in a lifetime family holiday, to which the school charged him £120 for doing so. Refusing to pay the fine he found himself in a legal battle with the Isle of Wight council. Here is the BBC Article on term time holidays. So this got me thinking is it really fair that schools are charging parents that take their children out of school during term time?
Although taking children outside of school for a holiday in Florida should be discouraged, does the Head Teacher of that school really have a right to say that a 6 year old can’t have 1 week off school, especially with his 6 year old having had a 93.8% attendance rate the previous academic year? Not everybody with children is lucky enough to get holiday time when it’s school holidays, especially in a small company. Look at it this way, if every nurse with children, in every hospital in the UK, took off 2 weeks holiday every Easter school holidays, would the hospitals still be functional? So with that in mind, the Government says that everybody is entitled to around 6 weeks every year paid holiday, but not everyone can go on holiday with their children because they can’t have any time off work during in school holidays. So schools charge them, to spend time with their children, the only time they have off work. Is that really fair?
Now the UK Government specifically states You can only allow your child to miss school if you’ve got advance permission from the school. You can easily do this by making an application to the head teacher in advance and then it’s up to the head teacher how long your child can be away from school if they say yes. Education is one of the most important things in this day and age, so why would a head teacher say yes to a holiday when that child would be spending up to 2 weeks away from classes? Last year 16,430 parents in England were prosecuted for failing to ensure their children went to school (not all of these cases were holidays, some truancy and other issues) but 9,214 of those parents were issued with fines. Fines are motivation to send your children to school. So schools think. But Jon Platt is the perfect example of a parent who wants to take their child for new experiences.
Again, is it right that the Head Teacher of a school gets to decide when you can take your children on holiday? Well I really don’t think it is. Holidays can be some of the most educational experiences of anybody’s life. I myself have learnt about and swam with dolphins, visited egyptian pyramids, climbed mountains in Switzerland and learnt a lot about American history in museums throughout various holidays in my life. Yes we all learn about these things in a classroom setting with our peers and friends, but experiencing them is something different. Could we not as teachers encourage learning on the holiday by asking them to write a paragraph each day of something they learned or enjoyed? Bring things into class when they come back and give a little presentation? Write a story based on something they saw, encouraging English? Ask them whilst they are away to learn a new word everyday in the language of the country they are going to and teach the children all the words when they come back? These are just a few possibilities.
So having read what I think, I ask you as a reader, is it really fair that schools are charging parents that take their children out of school during term time? Comment below with your views.