February 2015

suitcase

The Conservative Government has created new legislation outlawing holidays and other time off, taken in term time.

There are so many arguments against this that it’s difficult to know where to start. There is, of course, the obvious one that this is surely against Conservative values such as initiative and strong family bonds.

The policy has some history and some baggage. I believe it originated with the Labour Government among worthy aims, when it was designed to assist the education of the deprived and vulnerable who were truanting in disproportionate numbers. However, what is happening now is that it is harming children and families who have perfectly good reasons for being absent from school in term time.

As a teacher, one is always reluctant to see children go missing in term time – for fear of what they will miss and with questions about how one will ensure they don’t lose out on new learning. Sometimes parents will request work for the absence but what always surprised me was that when the pupils returned it was fine. They did not stand out like sore thumbs and in the grand scheme of things, they will learn somewhere whatever it was they did indeed miss.

Of course, the families who do truant and miss out on their education need the carrot and the stick to bring them back and then probably some more individualised learning.

Surely those who responsibly take their children out should be allowed to do so – I recall when parents would take offspring to Pakistan or India (totally unpolitical then) or some other kind of travel for three months or so and it was deemed educational.

Apart the issues of freedom and choice, there is the question of higher prices. We all know the ridiculous extra costs of travel in August. I’m not sure what the answer to this is however.

Lastly, for many from the UK, health-wise given our knowledge of skin cancer, August must be the most ill-advised month in which to take a prolonged holiday in the sun!

Oh well; happy holidays and make sure you take them over Easter!