Opinion, Parenting, Politics

Holidays or Truancy?

A leak from Department for Education has suggested that Michael Gove, Education Secretary, will ban the discretionary up to 2 weeks leave of absence that Head Teachers are permitted to grant during term time, according to the Telegraph. Apparently, this will help cut down on truancy.Rows of empty desks in a classroom.  Photo: evemaiden

Ostensibly this leave of absence is supposed to be for cases of illness, bereavement and bad weather, but is regularly used by parents to take holidays during term time, when it is cheaper. According to a survey by the Travelsupermarket.com website,

Prices increase by up to 42 per cent for a family of four taking a two-week trip to the Algarve during the school holidays.’ 

The justification in this draconian measure is that it will stop parents putting pressure on Head Teachers to authorised holiday absences. As a parent myself, with a child about to start School in September, this is something of great interest to me.

So what are the arguments for and against this move?

Arguments for :

There are holiday periods built in to the school calendar so you should take your holidays then.

If you can’t afford a holiday abroad during the holidays you should set your sights lower and go camping in the lakes instead.

Nobody NEEDS a holiday. It is not a human right to have one.

It disrupts the education process.

Arguments against:

It will have no affect on persistent truants. They are the ones who bump up the figures, whose parents never even ask permission anyway.

The biggest cause absence was due to illness, not holidays! Perhaps we should be banning sick days instead as that will have a bigger effect on attendance?

Again it is an attack on impoverished families. I think it sends a very clear message that poor people shouldn’t have holidays. I would argue they need it more, just a week where a family who is struggling day to day can have some quality time together just having fun.

It will affect people who have family abroad. Families generally don’t schedule weddings, birthdays, bereavements and other family events around the school holidays. It may be only time parents can afford to take their children to see overseas families is during term time. Certainly, this is something that I have experience of, seeing that I am half Spanish and my Dad lives in Spain.

Some parents may struggle to get time off work during the holidays, especially if others in their workplace are all wanting time off then – this is something my husband struggles with.

The holiday companies share some of the blame with the ridiculous hikes they put on holidays during the school holidays. Even campsites charge premium rates for pitches during the holidays. The argument is that they are there to make money and it is all about supply and demand. Surely though, if they offered cheaper holidays then more people would go?

To illustrate a typical price rise, I picked a popular UK holiday company, it has caravan parks all over the county. I priced up a 4 night stay for 2 adults and 2 children, in a one up from basic caravan, in a park on the Yorkshire coast.

For week commencing Monday 27th August, the cost was £325.50. Go the following week, and it would cost you £197.50 – a saving of £128! For a family only able to save a couple of quid a week for the family holiday, this is a big difference.

There are times when parents are taking the piss and absolutely this should be clamped down on. No-one needs to take their child on an uber expensive holiday to Disney Land, and Disney is horribly overpriced anyway. I would argue that some holidays can have value to a child’s education, teaching them about geography, allowing them to experience new people and places.

Perhaps an overhaul of terms and holidays is needed, to spread them out, with different schools having their holidays at different times?

All I know is this; once again the government are attacking families. Nice one Tories!

About madreleche

Mother of 2, married to a Sales Manager. Breastfeeding peer supporter, interested in environmental issues. Breastfeeding, cloth nappying, occasional baby wearing mama who believes in benign neglect but doesn't believe in cry-it-out. I spent 10 years working in waste management, specifically with hazardous chemical waste. Fan of science fiction, Star Trek, Battlestar Galatica, anything by Joss Whedon. Very odd. Has written poetry but not attempted to publish. Will not admit to writing fan fiction. Oh no, that wasn't me.


11 thoughts on “Holidays or Truancy?

  1. You said that the right to a holiday isn’t a human right… However, the right to decide how your child is educated is. It is questionable whether this would extend to time off, but if a parent could make an argument about how the holiday is of some benefit to the childs education, no-one should be able to oppose the request.

    The idea that head-teachers should be given so much power over families, though, is disgusting. It will do nothing to stop truancy, as holidays are not truancy. It is instead a political move intended to boost Gove’s popularity with people who don’t know enough to be trusted with the power they have as voters.

    Instead, Gove should tell us why so many of his own party are illiterate (based on their responses to emails sent in protest), innumerate (George Osbourne, the chancellor, famously got one of his Shadow Budgets wrong to the tune of millions), and incapable of using evidence-based-research to base their decisions on.

    Posted by craigforshaw | February 22, 2012, 9:25 pm
  2. I worked in a high school for over years and I was able to observe the effects of parents taking kids on holiday during term time very often. I’d say in the vast majority of cases it had very little impact on the child’s academic performance. The exceptions were with older children i.e year 10 or 11, around exam time or coursework deadlines when they may have missed some vital information – however exam dates and coursework hand-ins are always well known in advance so parents can work around these. The rest of the time, kids caught up with what they missed, and the benefits of going on holiday far outweighed the disadvantages from what I could see.
    It’s another draconian move by Gove, who seems to want to make a name for himself in his party by interfering in the education system rather needlessly and appealing to the Tory right. But it will have big implications on the many families who will struggle to afford to go on holiday during holiday times with the massively increased prices, much bigger than the impact on the child’s education. Of course, Gove will have no idea of the impact on families’ budgets this will cause, being the over-privileged rich tosser he so blatantly is.

    Posted by neiljohnsonarts | February 23, 2012, 3:15 am
    • This is why it is so unfair! The overpriviledged who privately educate their children also benefit from longer holidays so they have the option to avoid the peak periods without having to take their children out of school, and they are the ones who can most afford to pay peak prices!

      Posted by madreleche | February 23, 2012, 4:39 pm
  3. that should read over 5 years. waaaa. it is 3.15 a.m so please excuse me!

    Posted by neiljohnsonarts | February 23, 2012, 3:17 am
  4. I’m conflicted on this issue. On the one hand, I really don’t think that two weeks a year is going to ruin a child’s education, and I am totally in favour of parents being able to be in charge of their own children. I also think that school is far too restrictive – our entire family life has to revolve around school time, and I swear it is interfering with my daughter’s education that she is restricted by school days and hours and so can’t have nearly as many experiences as she was having before she started school. Unfortunately our family circumstances would make HE very hard, but I would have no qualms about de registering her if something came up, even though she is at a brilliant school.

    On the other hand, holidays are over rated. We rarely go anywhere other than my parents’ house, and instead try to have fun at home, and it does us fine.

    Posted by Alicia J Duffy | February 23, 2012, 12:22 pm
  5. I think the school holidays are all set out wrong anyway. If they are worried about children having x amount of education they should make the long (currently summer) holidays over winter – when more children are ill, it’s darker and more dangerous travelling, and there’s snow stopping people getting in/boilers packing up etc.

    Holidays make people happier which in turn, makes for better learning.

    Visiting from the loveallblogs showcase

    Posted by pinkoddy | February 27, 2012, 9:03 pm
  6. From someone who missed 4-6 weeks’ of school each year till I was 15 due to my dad’s work & still come out a straight A student, this proposal is a load of…..! It will penalise lower income families & those with family abroad (like myself). There is no point, especially as those really playing truant regularly will not give a damn & will continue as they do. It puts unnecessary pressure on honest parents, while having no bearing on the child’s education. Sad really that the government is dealing with petty issues like this instead of looking at areas like how early they are actually forcing kids into formal education! That’s just my pennies worth.

    Posted by Monika aka mumonthebrink | March 7, 2012, 12:46 am


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