Term-time holidays

I’m with the Supreme Court on this

Compulsory education is A Good Thing. When it was introduced in 1880 a lot of poor families said it was unfair on them since they couldn’t afford not to send their kids up chimneys/out into the fields/into domestic service. They needed them to work to put bread on the table. But the state insisted, saying that if going to school was optional then market forces would mean that poorer kids wouldn’t get the education they needed.

Now someone is arguing that he can’t afford to go to Disney World unless he goes during term time, and his child does go to school quite often (more than 90% of the time they’re supposed to). If any of my staff had been taking one day a fortnight off I think I’d have wanted to know why. I’d have accepted illness as a reason, but not much else I think. Turning up when you’re supposed to is a good habit for kids to get into.



Presumably this will actually have serious repurcussions for family oriented resorts like Disney, CenterParcs etc.

Do our European neighbours have similar strict laws. If kids aren’t allowed out during term time then presumably Disneyland Paris is deserted for the majority of the year (other than at weekends).

What has this got to do with the price of fish? They’d have taken annual leave if they wanted time off.

What business is it of government to micro manage what a family decides to do, criminilising them if they don’t comply. This is a bad decision resulting in seasonal workers, especially less wealthy ones who can’t afford the fines, being unable to take a holiday with their children.


But the girl has annual leave fixed at Christmas, Easter, summer and half terms. She can’t pick and choose it - and neither can her parents - at least that is what the court has ruled.

She was effectively absent without prior approval so effectively like a sickness/absence day for an employee.

I’m not. Education is about many things, not just school. Looking at just school is such a narrow view. All that will happen is that GPs will be writing more letters as suddenly little Johnny will be sick/depressed/bullied etc… and will have to miss two weeks school.

At the age of 6, is a week or two really going to make any difference? At GCSE or A level years, maybe, but not the other years.


Damn right.

As with most things in life, a middle-way is the best compromise here. There are enlightened headmasters that agree a small, fixed number of days for children to be off outside term over the period that child attends the school, or by individual consultation.

This gives parents some flexibility in planning whilst taming those that would take advantage and serially remove their kids during term-time.

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Where do you draw the line Bob ? Deciding what is acceptable in society and discouraging what is not, if necessary by criminalising it, is the whole purpose of the legislative arm of government and quite a bit of the purpose of the executive arm too. Government has decided that compulsory education (the clue is in the name) is best for children. If we disagree then the correct response is to campaign against it, not just ignore the law.

No-one’s arguing that children should be taken from their parents at birth and confined in a school 24/7/52 until they’re 18. There are evenings and weekends and scheduled holidays. The argument is that they should go to school for some of their time. Schools run most efficiently (and heaven knows recent governments have tried to squeeze every last bit of efficiency out of them) when all the kids are there at the same time. That’s good for the schools and good for the kids.

Incidentally, exactly these arguments would have been used by the poor in the 1880s.


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I didn’t think there was any scope for this in the regulations now…

This is such a straw man, Graeme. The reasons for doing it today are wholly different.

I took my daughter out of school for one day when I had organised a tour around Westminster with the local MP. She is now in her final year of a Politics and Philosophy degree so I feel vindicated.

Children should be taught that education is more important than a sun tan IMHO.


I have some sympathy with this. This is how my secondary school headmaster worked (back in the late middle ages). But he was both enlightened and as hard as nails. So the scheme worked because parents had to do what they were told.

I’m not a teacher, but the few I know tell me that these days the problems are not with the kids but with the parents. They argue about everything. If discretion was allowed on this then some headteachers would yield to pressure and some kids’ education would suffer.

It’d also be good if schools staggered their holidays a lot more than they do. If they can’t agree dates then they should be decided by lottery, or rota, 2-3 years in advance. It can’t be beyond the wit of man to spread the demand out more evenly over the year.


Yes. In the 1880s they were avoiding starvation. Now they are saving 30% of the cost of the trip to The Magic Kingdom.


I should add that I think a little flexibility in what the head can approve would be eminently sensible. Mind you it makes not one bit of difference as we chose to save the government money by not spawning,still waiting for my tax rebate…

He lost his case.

There was no other outcome, the idea that parents rights come before their children’s, makes me shudder. He should have just paid the fine in the first place.

Preposterous moralising.

There really was no other outcome. Him winning would have rendered the current law unworkable, and what he was really trying to do in essence was take financial advantage of the compliance of other families.

Compulsory education these days seems to be about the school doing well, keeping the bonuses rolling in for those in charge.