This ageless dilemma is set to run. As the parents of each new cohort of school children realise that official school holidays attract a peak time travel cost loading the temptation to spring children from school during term time rears its head.
For a young family the additional cost of official holiday travel can mean a holiday or not. But equally we have a duty to schoolchildren to provide them with the best education. This becomes difficult if they are missing from class. Reasons for taking kids out of class are legion and doubtful if any original rationale could be still be used by parents.
The total of 193 days the school year is desperately short already. Our teaching proficiently is under constant attack and scrutiny and can lead to misplaced judgment if children are absent for any length of time. Headteachers previously had had the discretion to grant up to two weeks holiday in term time but recent changes in legislation removed this option and replaced it with a fine if ignored. This draconian measure removed the debate and made it fair to all. But cracks are once again emerging as MP’s join the fray. They believe that parents should have the unalienable right to take their children out of school during term time. Doubtless this opinion being formed before discussion with the teaching profession who could explain that additional holidays seriously interrupt the schooling process and could be seen as elitism with many of the class.
Maybe parents should be given the option of school term holidays but with a caveat that such children be discounted from the statistics monitoring school performance. And such MP’s need to be advised by the Department for Education that whilst the UK is struggling to improve standards and is sliding ever more dangerously down the OECD educational league tables, their argument may be counterproductive.
By Alistair Owens