Term time holidays in the UK

At the moment, parents in the UK who take their children out of school during term time for holidays face fines from the local government. This is… controversial, to say the least.

One parent has refused to pay the fine, and been taken to court my the council. He won. The law says that parents must ensure that children attend school regularly, but put no specific limits, and doesn’t mention term-time holidays at all.
As the father of two kids in primary school, I’m watching this with interest.

It’s a difficult situation - the key expense components of many family holidays (esp flights and accommodation) are highest during the school holidays, so parents on a tight budget may have to make the choice between an affordable holiday within term time, or an inferior holiday at the right time.

However, schools are rated on their attendance figures when they are inspected by OFSTED - it can easily be the factor that tips a school from being rated ‘outstanding’ to merely ‘good’, which has an effect on the future profile of the school, it’s intake numbers and in turn, its budget.

Furthermore, the curriculum is so intense that the disruption of missing a single week of can have a measurable impact on the child’s attainment levels (and the progress of the class as a whole if teaching resources are diverted to the task of catching up.

Can you help us Yanks out a little? What’s “term time”? :slight_smile:

(also "OFSTED ")

Sounds like a good law to me. If kids are frequently out of school, than it is the parents’ fault.

Term time = when school is in session (during the school term)
OFSTED = Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.

Most importantly, holidays = vacation

What’s confusing for Americans like me about the thread title and OP is that for us, holidays specifically means days off from school. So “term time holidays” is an oxymoron – by definition, if it’s term time, it’s not a holiday.

Thread title for Americans = Taking kids on vacation when school is in session.

Very glad it wasn’t enforced when I was a kid; my parents ran a tourist attraction, they barely got days off during school holidays, forget time for trips away.

Luckily the school was understanding about it back then or family holidays would gave been completely impossible, rather than merely difficult, and unless they could get a babysitter for the whole duration of the trip, my parents wouldn’t have been able to go away at all until we were old enough to be home alone.

I had the best attendance record in the class anyway; some kids were off pretty much every time they sneezed, and no one ever seemed concerned about that.

Half term holidays for me mean it’s a pain in the arse to travel by rail on a Saturday, but it also means the mummies won’t be clogging up our estate with their vans and giant cars twice a day for a week. It also means for a blissful week my commute isn’t the usual gonad-ache that it tends to be. :slight_smile:

This is pretty much our situation, really. My wife runs play services in parks during school holidays, so she’s always working during holidays.

Nema98 - I have absolutely no problem with the law, as written, requiring children to regularly attend school. What I have a problem with is local authorities using a law designed to prevent truancy to stop people taking their kids on holiday once a year.

The old guidelines used to basically allow 10 days a year, with the Headmaster’s approval. If your kid was a more regular truant, you wouldn’t get that approval.

I always wonder how they prove the kid wasn’t just off school ill? As long as they keep quiet, they could surely get away with it on those grounds.

I remember when I was in school, my sister took a day off to go shopping with my mum and they told the school she was ill. The teacher then asked me how she was, and I basically told them she was fine, and was in town shopping. I… got a bit of grief for that.

Anyway, the Local Government Association says that the system is unworkable and needs to change.

The problem they have is the Guidelines the government have issued to local government levy fines that aren’t actually backed up in the law, which is why this one man has won his case.

Bumping this to say that the man in question has been taken to the High Court, and has won there too.

My problem with the current government stance on this isn’t that parents should be allowed to not send their kids to school, but that rules brought in to stop bad parents from getting away with never sending kids to school are being used to criminalise parents for taking kids on holiday out of term time when their attendance is otherwise excellent.

Wait, what? What’s going on that makes that happen???

I meant “holiday during term time”, sorry.

When the high court decision was announced, there were the usual media interviews of pundits.

On of these that was on Radio 2 had a bolshie noisy arrogant teacher who appeared to want nothing more to do except to overbear and browbeat everybody down to his obviously correct opinion, which was that the courts were wrong, the law was wrong, the parents were wrong and teachers are such hard workers they deserve their learners to be compelled to attend at the convenience of the teachers.

A complete arsehole who does nothing whatsoever to make a case to sympathise with teachers.
Now here is my take on it.
Schools, government ministers and teachers are all complete idiots - they are criticising parents, instead of the teaching system they have devised.

The problem is the industrialisation of teaching and learning, what it means is that every learner must complete specific learning outcomes within specific date times.

This has steadily been brought in to compare one institution with another, just so that scores can be applied. So now we have league tables of schools. This goes along with the Tory ethos of ‘CHOICE’ where parents are supposed to choose the ‘BEST’ schools and the POORER schools are motivated to improve.

It is all shit, the reason is that schools only go out of business when overall learner numbers fall, there is no overcapacity that will allow this to happen.You do not get the Darwinian improvement and survival of the fittest, which in itself is a detestable interpretation of the theory of evolution,

When Darwinism is applied to human activities such as politics or philosophy we have a very unpleasant mix indeed.

This robotic need for schools to meet a notional target is put in place solely for the benefit of the school itself, and perhaps so that local and national politicians can crow about ‘PROGRESS’

The result is that any short absence then has the potential to disrupt an absolutely rigid timetable and given the types of course design, it is not easy to then regain the ground lost.

This is industrialised education, production line learning and it fundamentally goes against the principles of learning.

The idea of intellectual experimentation is not possible, nor is there any chance of academic exploration, this is because the holy god of the school and course timetable absolutely has to be maintained - and that’s because to do anything else might make it less easy to use an artificial metric to judge the standard of education between establishments.
So what should really be happening, well, pretty much nothing of what goes on now. Learners should be assessed and taught and guided according to their own needs and abilities, they should progress at a rate that works for them. This means courses need to be designed to enable far more free running, these courses need to enable learners to go in unexpected directions - the development of the minds of children is such that the will tend to hit certain boundaries until further learning has taken place, part of which is related to physical development of the brain.

In other words, we move away from industrialised programmed education, we move to one that moves away from school and state needs, and to one that makes the learner the priority.

Summary, if we had such a personalised teaching system, it would not matter one jot if a child was away from school, they could resume their learning and progress according to their abilities and inspirations, and maybe the leisure industry would not be in such a dominant position to rip everybody off big time with their quadruple price hikes during school vacation times.

Travel is the best education there is. I learnt far more about Rome and its history by travelling to Rome with my parents than by sitting in boring ass lectures in class earlier that year.

The “Travel broadens the mind” response is a common one, but one which I feel misses the point a little (although I don’t disagree with what you’ve said). I think family holidays are really important, regardless of whether you’re travelling somewhere ‘educational’ - it’s just as valuable for a family to take their kids to Butlins for the week as it is to take them abroad. The father in the high court case took his kids to one of the Disney resorts.

It isn’t as simple as just saying “Yes, take your kids out!”, there has to be checks and people have to send their kids to school regularly. The old system, where Headteachers could approve or deny term-time holiday in advance, depending on personal circumstances, seemed to me to be a good one.

I agree. There needs to be discretion put into this, a one size fits all strategy is doomed to fail. Its true that not all travel is going to be educational and sometimes school days have to have priority, but to fine parents whose kids have otherwise excellent attendance because they decided to take them away for a week? Nonsense.
And yes even going to Disney resorts means going to France, California or Florida, and seeing people from all over the world. Its not just rides and pictures with Micky. Certainly IME, travel with family shows you much more of a country than say business travel, where you learn that Airport lounges, Conferance Halls, Hotel Rooms and roads look the same world over.

I’m a teacher, and while it’s a pain to try to get a student caught up from a week-long vacation, the students who miss lots and lots of single days due to “sickness” (always on a Friday or a Monday or a test day, hmmm…) are far more likely to get behind.

Also, you have to keep in mind that it’s not just nuclear families going on a fun vacation. A family reunion scheduled around Great-Grandma’s 100th birthday, or Aunt Susie’s wedding, is not likely to have the school holiday schedule as a priority.

I always say that school is the student’s “job”. Well, in our jobs, we get to take vacation while work is still going on, and we do so knowing that there will be work piled up when we get back, and we will have to get caught up. Some employees (and students) suck at that, but most of us do just fine, and so do most students.

So, while I dislike it in theory, in reality I just grin and bear it. And, truthfully, it’s a lot easier to hold those students (and their parents) responsible for catching up on their work, than it is for those kids who take the day off anytime they get a sniffle and just don’t feel like going to school

If school courses were designed differently, learners would not get behind. It is the imposition of a schedule to get everyone to the same place at the same time that causes the problems.

We need a completely different educational paradigm, where learners can learn at their pace and achieve the standards when they achieve them, and not as institutions require them.

It will need a lot more money thrown at it then. Part of the key reason for doing it the way it is done currently, is economy of scale. If you want flexibility, you need more staff and resources to administer it.
Also, you lose some of the synergy of interdependence (children learning the same thing together at the same time can help each other)