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.
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.
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!