Taking your kids out of school to go on holiday is bad for their education, right? But let’s not forget, says Daisy Leverington, that this rule punishes poorer families way more than the wealthy.
Term-time holidays are a contentious subject. I’ve worked in education and I have a child, so my opinions are informed by both sides of the for and against argument.
I’ve landed fairly gently upon the cautious opinion that they aren’t the worst thing in the world. I can list a whole load of other things that are far more detrimental to kids these days than a family camping trip which takes up a few days of school. However, it’s exceptionally easy to take the piss and I completely understand (but don’t necessarily agree with) the need for regulation and a blanket ban to prevent legitimate damage to education.
My main problem with the ban is that we are all lumped into the same economic bracket; it’s not means tested or inclusive of social circumstance. Students from poorer households (like ours) can confidently discount travelling abroad or even enjoying a seaside break during the school holidays, while wealthier families can stump up for 90 per cent price hikes in non-term time.
For us, that means a few days in a cold caravan is as good as it will ever get. My child won’t have the same opportunity to see the world if we stick to LEA rules about school absences unless we have a dramatic and unlikely change in our financial circumstances.
“I want the best for my kid and taking her to somewhere culturally diverse and rich in new experiences is something I hope to do as she grows up, but at the moment I legally can’t.”
I am fully aware of how ‘first world problem’ this all sounds. The fact is that my child receives a free, world-class education, and people have died and are still dying in their droves to provide this kind of opportunity for their children. Our child also loves school, so why would we ever break the law and take her out of school for a few days just to cater to our own travel plans?
We all want the very best for our kids and I believe spending time immersed in another culture, around people who speak a different language and have different traditions can ONLY be a good thing for our daughter. A balanced knowledge of the world might come from books and study to an extent, but if we could show her parts of the world she would never otherwise get to see, then the development of her understanding and empathy is surely something which can’t be taught in a classroom.
The current £60 fine in force in England seems to be more of a ‘suck it up’ factor in the argument, an arguably small price to pay to avoid the huge jump in holiday costs.
The recent case of Jon Platt, who took legal action against his fine and won, goes to show if a child attends school ‘regularly’ as his did, then perhaps there might be some leniency in the law.
It’s certainly a ray of hope for people like me, who simply can’t afford to take their kids away otherwise. Taking young people, especially those studying for exams, out of school for extended periods of time will clearly have a knock-on effect in their schooling, but a few days or maybe a week while they are little (mine is still four) seems fairly harmless to me.
I want the best for my kid and taking her to somewhere culturally diverse and rich in new experiences is something I hope to do as she grows up, but at the moment I legally can’t. I’m not sure two weeks at Disneyland would be high on the list of things I’d fight for in court, but I certainly stand my ground on a cheap camping holiday abroad.
There are so many shades of grey in these arguments, so I can’t categorically claim to wholly support either side, but I know it seems unfair for the travel industry to penalise poorer parents.
School commitments take up a lot of our time and resources, so I don’t think reclaiming a bit of time as a family and defying the price jumps of multi-million pound holiday companies is a such a bad thing at all.4916 Views
Daisy Leverington - Actor, mother, expert at winging it.