*This is a collaborative post*
Travel is Education – A statement I wholeheartedly agree with. Nobody can deny that there are huge benefits to giving children the opportunity to travel and explore. The question is should this travel be allowed to take place during term time?
As a primary school teacher I do understand the Department of Education clamping down on term time holidays. I don’t think it’s ok for a child to miss two weeks of their education every year for a package holiday to Spain (one extra week of holiday per year amounts to almost three months of missed schooling over the course of their education). What I do have issue with is the blanket ban approach. The general theory is to improve school attendance and avoid any detrimental impact on future educational achievement. I get that. It does make sense. What doesn’t make sense is stopping children from taking exciting opportunities to discover things about the world we live in, to explore how other people live.
As I teacher, and therefore someone who can’t take term time holidays anyway, the money thing really doesn’t wash with me. I don’t get to go on cheap holidays, I get to go on holiday at a set time of year when I’m not working and I get to pay top dollar for that! (Or in reality we just don’t really go on holiday because we can’t afford it – holidays are not a divine right are they!?) I know other families have similar situations where they’re not actually able to take holiday during the school holidays as it’s a peak time for their employer – presumably that means they’re not allowed to go on holiday either?
|Dave & I last went abroad together in 2008|
That said, as a Mum I am of the attitude that why shouldn’t I take my kids on holiday as and when I want to? They have great attendance (in fact they both have 100% attendance) so really what damage would a week or two off do – two weeks of quality family time, two weeks of experiencing a different culture? Two weeks of experiencing stuff . . . stuff they won’t experience in Manchester. I’m not saying I would take them out every year but, occasionally? I really don’t see the harm. Surely I should be able to discuss my plans with the Headteacher and make a sensible balanced decision about what’s best for my children – why does the government get to decide this? Headteachers used to have the discretion to approve up to ten days of absence in each academic year for family holidays -perhaps this should have been reduced but I really don’t think that authority should have been rescinded. Headteachers should be trusted to make an individual judgement based on the child’s attendance record, their current level of progress and weigh up the potential benefits (or negative effects) that the leave may have.
I went on a couple of term time holidays as a child – to America, I only actually missed a week of school each time as it was tagged onto the Easter holidays. Has it affected me? Yes I have some great memories of a fantastic family holiday – I haven’t, however, missed out on dramatic swathes of my education causing me to fail at life!
The fine is currently set at £60 per pupil, per parent, per day – at the moment Chloe is under 5 and so this doesn’t legally apply to her but still – a potential fine of £120 a day for Ben is pretty hefty. (And why is it per parent and not just per child anyway?!) My Mother in Law will be getting married on a school day next Spring . . . Do I really have to break the law and pay a fine of £120 to allow Ben to attend?!
So yes I see why the ban has been put in place but I disagree with just how tight those restrictions are. There needs to be some common sense and flexibility applied to allow each situation to be judged on its own merits. Life experience plays a huge role in education; giving context and meaning to the abstract concepts taught within the classroom. Travel IS Education.