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A family holiday is like a field trip

Winter is on its last legs, spring is almost sprung and that thorny old issue of summer holidays is looming large again.

Should you or shouldn’t you be taking the children out of school for a week or two to take advantage of cheaper family holiday deals?

Government, councils, headteachers and more educational worthies than you can shake a stick at firmly say no.

And they’ll go beyond wagging a chastising finger, they’ll fine you £50 per child – and prosecute if needs be – should you fly little Janet and John off to Benidorm before the final whistle blows on end of term.

It’s a tough call for mums and dads anxious to get away for some quality family time but unable to afford high-summer prices – inflated deliberately to fleece all those tied to when school’s officially out for six weeks.

At one Cumbrian school – Brampton Primary – parents have been reminded by letter that a seriously dim view is taken of rule-breakers, fines will be imposed and court proceedings will follow, should fines not be paid promptly.

Unauthorised absenteeism is a big problem for all schools. But pupils who bunk off to hang around shopping centres and chip shops; those who kick about the streets swilling cider and making a nuisance of themselves are a different kettle of fish altogether from those travelling with family for some precious time together.

You have to wonder how much valuable education a primary school child could miss by being taken out of school a week before official term end.

And you would certainly have to ask how important shared family experience is to any child, spending less time than ever with working mums and dads forced to work longer hours to meet the demands of an increasingly difficult downturn.

Teachers can’t really, on the one hand, blame lack of attention from parents for the poor behaviour of children while, on the other, denying the only chance of full engagement some families may have.

Isn’t it time for all concerned to cut a bit of slack and move into the real world? Kids need to spend time with their parents and siblings. And they need to do that when it’s affordable.

Why don’t tour operators face up to that reality and scrap those cynical extra charges loaded on to holiday deals timed during school holidays, specifically to penalise families with young children?

And, while we’re about cutting some slack, how about schools getting a grip of what’s undeniably vital to a child’s development?

Teachers might not like to admit it but it’s very often the case that a child can learn a heck of a lot more on a holiday with family than he or she could in the last few days of a school term, when impatient, weary teachers are winding down lessons anyway – anxious to hit their budget flights to Tuscany.

Fining families for wanting to be together for a couple of affordable weeks of fun? How can that be right?

Have your say

the Government, councils, headteachers have said there going to fine £50 per child and just this week airports are putting extra tax on flights from £80 to £480 during the summer think parents will gladley pay the £50 lol

Posted by victor on 14 March 2012 at 17:02

Totally agree with Emma Holt. For six whole weeks in the run up to Christmas, our kids did absolutely nothing educational, instead they rehearsed non stop for the carol concert and nativity. Similar thing in the run up to Easter, and the last fortnight before the summer holidays seemed to be spent watching videos. Not to mention inset days, strikes, and the days when the poor teachers couldn't make it to school because of the snow. Honestly, what a bunch of skivers; if I could get over Hartside pass to Alston to get to work, I'm pretty darn sure the teachers could have made it a mile or two across town. So I'll happily take my kids out of school for holidays during the periods they're not actually learning anything, and the school can stick the fine in its pipe and smoke it! Rant over, now let's get the kettle on.

Posted by Bryan on 10 March 2012 at 21:18

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