Jon Platt recently won a High Court battle to allow him to refrain from paying his fine for taking his children on a family holiday during school term time. This has once again ignited the ever popular debate on whether taking your little ones out of school for a week, two weeks or even a day (when they are not ill) is ever justifiable.
On one poll taken by the topical TV show “The Wright Stuff” around 90% of people asked stated that they were on Mr Platt’s side. Almost all parents I have asked seem to agree that there are times where they would, or at least would want to take their children out of school during term time. Many teachers even agree to a point stating that this law does not work for the people it intended for ( parents that allow their children to regularly play truant or to flag up a concern that there may be another reason for children to often be out of school) and instead criminalises good parents who have taken children to a family wedding or Museum exhibition. I know of one case where a parent of a continuously ill child was flagged up under the 90% attendance rule when all of her daughters absences where due to hospital appointments. Teachers seem to give the overall impression of it being the timing of your child’s day/ week/ fortnight off that really matters. For example if they miss exam prep, a test or an introduction to and entire new part of the curriculum eg: long division it can prove detrimental to them.
I think that any parent would agree that it is important for children to maintain a good attendance at school. It is necessary for their academic education but also as a life lesson. To learn that; if you’ve committed to attend somewhere, you have to honour that commitment. Even if you don’t feel like it, even if you don’t like Science on a Wednesday or sitting next to Milly Walters on a Friday. However I personally believe that there is much more to a child’s education than lessons that are simply academic. I believe that if you have the chance to go to The Amazon Rainforest for two weeks and learn about all of the creatures and habitat of that incredible eco system or to go a museum to see the real life artefacts of the time period that your school project is on for the afternoon or even attend a family reunion, re-conect with your loved ones, build your interpersonal skills, learn to great people properly, make eye contact and speak confidently for the day, there are times that an education outside of the classroom can prove more beneficial. Again, as a parent, you would have to do the research, weigh up the pros and cons of missing that particular afternoon, day or fortnight of school for your child. For example: it does seem a little unfair to take your children out of school just before a big test. You may also want to ask your child’s teacher if they have any advice on extra homework or revision that your little one could do to make up the time that they missed.
I think that as the millennial generation grows it will be harder and harder to maintain the confines of such strict boundaries on a fixed school year. For this generation, location boundaries are somewhat broken; many
parents work in multiple countries with much more flexible work schedules. With the rise of work-from-home parents and internet entrepreneurs adult lives are a lot less static that they used to be and I think that there will soon come a point where they want the same for their children. It will be interesting to see how the fixed school year evolves for this new generation of children, how schools maintain routine and constancy that many children crave but also embrace this ever more flexible, global world that they have been born into.
Would you take your little ones out of school during term time? If so, what would justify it for you?