The end of the road

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Back to school says the Supreme Court. Don’t holiday in term time.

I have been mulling over the implications of the case of Jon Platt, the father who took his daughter away on holiday in term time and who has fought a long and hard battle about the rights of parents to take their children away from school.

After the Supreme Court rejected his case in April, the case went back to the court on the Isle of Wight (where the Platt family lives) for sentencing. There he was fined £2,000 and given a 12-month conditional discharge. It is estimated that councils paid some £140,000 to fight the case and who knows how much it has cost the Platt family both in money, time and angst

His argument was, if you remember, that his daughter had a satisfactory attendance record and her schoolwork hadn’t suffered. That part was not denied.

Once again the legal system has served up a judgement that says the narrow letter of the law must be obeyed without considering whether the judgement was just. I think it was in the film version of Rattigan’s famous play The Winslow Boy, that the defence barrister for a boy alleged to have stolen a five shilling postal order says something like that it was easy to easy to do justice but very hard to do right.   That is how I feel about this case. It might be justice but it isn’t right in this case.

I cannot believe that missing a day or a few or even a week of school will materially affect the life of a child. If it did why isn’t there always cover for a teacher on sick leave? Could I argue in reverse, that the school was not fulfilling its part of the contract by not teaching the curriculum that day?

holidays are only to be taken outside term time

I have argued previously that experiencing different cultures as evidenced by holidays abroad can be enlightening and certainly broadens the attitudes that people have. Yes, I know that in this case Platt took his daughter to Florida and to Disneyworld and that many would not consider that as broadening the mind but I disagree. How a country plays; what it does for leisure can be important and the Disney development has certainly had a profound impact on the world. It might not the equivalent of Chinese, Roman or Egyptian civilisations but it might be considered more relevant in the modern world.

Given that towards the end of term, teachers arrange school trips which are felt to be valuable otherwise they wouldn’t happen, why can’t a parent arrange something as well? No, the law says teachers know best. When I think of some of the idiots I had as teachers including one that said to study Roman and Greek history we didn’t need new textbooks (and ones from 1900 would do) showed a great ignorance of what archaeology had found and proved since then.

The discretion that was given to headmasters has also been damaged since the guidelines were distributed to schools. When I took my two children away from school and took them to Australia for ten days to attend my father’s funeral, the headmaster had no problems letting me do it. What would be the attitude to ten days away from school in this post Platt era?

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: ,