It would seem the ancient argument about term-time holidays has surfaced again. All in all, it’s clear that parents are trying to get a bit militant and take the fight to government policy.
126,000 parents have signed a petition that has been delivered to the Department for Education demanding the reversal of amendments made to The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006. The changes, which came into force on 1st September of this year, adjusted the law so that headteachers could not authorise parents to take their children out of school except in exceptional circumstances, such as illness, attendance of a funeral. Parents can be fined for not obtaining permission or ignoring a refusal and repeat offenders stand to face prosecution.
I wonder if these parents stamp their feet and moan loudly enough we might have to send them back to school themselves? Certainly they’ve got the maturity of some of the primary school kids, ironically, that they’re trying to get out of school. The debate has raged on for a long time now and it would seem that parents are becoming louder and louder as they don’t get their own way.
Now, now. Let’s be balanced about this. The great argument that the ban should be overturned is that parents want a family holiday and it is too expensive to go somewhere nice for their holiday during the summer holidays. That may be true, but if you are struggling to afford whatever chosen location you have for the summer then maybe you might need to consider whether that is possible. If you’re having to put your child’s education second to afford your holiday then maybe you need to rethink your priorities. Another argument is that businesses cannot afford to have all the staff off at different times of the year. Considering that a family holiday is traditionally two weeks long and there is a far greater amount of school holiday in the calendar (half terms, Christmas, Easter and the Summer) if a business can’t seem to factor that into it’s plans then I think there’s a deeper issue than parents taking their kids away. That just comes down to some pretty questionable business practice.
The parent who started the campaign, Craig Langman, was quoted as saying that going in the summer holidays costs three times as much as going in term time and that this’ll make it impossible. Surely that comes down a great deal to where you’re deciding on going – I’m of the view that you don’t really have to go abroad to places to have a good holiday. I guarantee you that if you chose somewhere in the UK or not half way around the world you’d make up for the fact that you went in a proper school holiday.
Perhaps the most ludicrous statement I’ve heard from this is that it ‘almost killing families.’ I think Mr Langman is being highly dramatic here – I cannot remember a single argument over where we went or when we went in our household. Just some family time together, wherever it was, was far more important to us than the location or when it was. I think that some parents see it as some sort of given right to be able to take their kids out of school as they please – just because they don’t get the same amount of holiday as their kids it obviously means that they can make up for that by inconveniencing their child’s learning as they go.
The effect term-time holidays have on schoolchildren is undeniable. Imagine catching up on two-weeks worth of work whilst trying to keep up with new material… Any child who’s suffered with illness will know the pressure that can cause. I can only begin to imagine what it would be like for teachers who would have to deal with kids saying ‘sorry, I don’t understand, I’ve been away.’ I can only imagine they find it rather frustrating that parents prioritise a cheap holiday over their children’s education. Can’t imagine that two week holiday feels so good when the exam results come back.
I can remember missing nearly four weeks due to illness when I was younger. I can imagine coming back and finding it extremely tough to cope with the demands of catching up and still learning the new material – and this was at a time when the pressure was significantly less; I hadn’t got to that age where exams dominate your life. Add that pressure in and this would make a lot of kids wonder why they went away.
It’s not like the Department for Education has kept tight lipped over the issue. They have said something along similar lines to me, that kids can’t afford to be wasting time catching up. They also remind parents that they are giving schools freedom to choose term dates. One example was the David Young Community Academy in Leeds, whose 7 term calendar means that parents could easily find time at the end of September to take their kids away somewhere at a lower cost than the summer. It would appear that the issue is overblown somewhat.
Keep the rules the same, for goodness’ sake. Some parents seem to think that, because they have children at school, it means they can dictate policy for everyone else. Rethink your priorities and please stop frustrating the teachers and schools who have to put up with it.