Holidays in term time – again!

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Taking children n holiday in school term time doesn't mean that it will necessarily be to beaches or fun parks

Taking children n holiday in school term time doesn’t mean that it will necessarily be to beaches or fun parks

On Monday afternoon, for just over two a quarter hours, the House of Commons considered a petition (signed by more than 120,000 people) relating to taking children out of school in term-time. The e-petition called for parents to be allowed to take their children out of school for up to two weeks for a family holiday.

Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay – a tourist area that he claimed had been affected by the 2013 legislation applying to England only – claimed that no economic assessment of the introduction of the tighter rules had been made prior to its introduction and Cornwall was worse off by £44 million in 2014 alone, tourist organisations had been affected and, in some cases, people had been made redundant.

All this is due to the intransigence in headteachers not allowing children holidays in term time.

Other members pointed put how the tourist industry itself, police and health care workers were affected because frequently they could not get time off during the seven or so weeks of the summer holidays.

John Pugh, MP for Southport, another tourist hotspot and a former teacher, said “Towards the end of the summer term, when exams are done and people are tired, and when the days are hot and the pupils sleepy and looking forward to the summer, one cannot always say that time in school is absolutely precious and could never be forfeited under any circumstances. Equally, most holidays are educationally very productive. After all, that is why so many schools organise holidays. Strangely enough, they sometimes start such holidays towards the end of school time because they recognise the benefits they bring to pupils.”

He went on to say, “Children improve on holidays. They certainly improve faster on holiday than they do in the last few weeks of school. I recently had the benefit of taking all five of my grandchildren on a holiday to France for two weeks. We did not go around museums, nor did I lecture them about things such as French literature or test their maths, but they came back far more developed after two weeks away than they had after the previous term. I could actually see the difference. They are small children and the development that took place was there for all to see.”

In replying to all the MP’s that spoke, the schools minister, Nick Gibb, said that “…decisions can be made close to home, reflecting local needs,” suggesting that those parts of the country where jobs make it difficult to have holidays matching school ones might be allowed some leeway in letting children holiday in term time. He went on to say that some 76% of secondary schools and 35% of primary schools, educating some 52% of all registered pupils, already had responsibility for their own term and holiday dates so that they could set holiday times outside the peak six/seven weeks in July, August and September.

Referring to a report he also said that if children are taken away for a two-week holiday during term time every year and have an average number of days off for sickness and appointments, by the time they leave school at 16 they will have missed a year of school.

Except that the purpose of the petition and of many speeches was not that every student should have two weeks holiday each year in term time, merely that there should be an option and that locally, the head teacher needed guidance.

In the end, Gibb said that he would not agree to change yet in Wales where greater flexibility is given to head teachers as education is a devolved issue, there seems to be no decline is student attainment. Indeed the opposite seems to be the case as the percentage of pupils getting grades A to C at GCSE has risen whereas in England it has dropped.

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