The New Year has begun with a new furore erupting over parents removing their children from school for ‘unauthorised absences’ during term time.
Rules in place since 2013 mean that parents must ask Head Teachers to take a family holiday during term-time. Despite such requests hardly ever being granted, more than 630,000 pupils were taken out of school anyway, for which parents can be fined.
The National Association of Head Teachers has also chimed in saying that even a day off normal lessons can lead to severe problems for a child.
This is nonsense.
Selected pupils regularly miss days or half-days of lessons to participate in sporting competitions. Schools themselves routinely take groups of children out of lessons for day trips to museums, theatres or Geography field trips, and often whole classes spend a week or more abroad on language exchanges when they miss their normal lessons and have to catch up when they return. The idea that parents taking their children out of school for a family holiday would be disastrous conflicts with the assertion that taking children out of their normal lessons for a field trip of a similar length of time is beneficial. A short term-time trip is either bad or it is not.
In addition, parents in the United Kingdom have always had the right to home educate their children. The understanding here has always been that parents are the primary educators of their children, and are free to home educate or send them to a school where the teachers are in loco parentis (parents’ representatives).
This is the exact opposite of Germany which imposed Schulpflicht (compulsory school attendance) on all children in 1919 with a law which is still in force today. There, teachers are seen as agents of the state rather than as representing parents and their wishes. Recently, successive governments have subtly and subversively tried to change the culture of education to make British schools more like the German system.
Growing numbers of parents have sensed this change without fully comprehending the monumental cultural shift being engineered in the UK. More parents are choosing to home educate their children, not least because a growing number of parents want to protect their children from the LGBT juggernaut which wants to force 4-year-olds to learn about homosexuality and transgenderism. This is also being promulgated in England by the ‘Conservative’ Party, as well as by Labour in Wales and the SNP in Scotland.
There are currently no statutory criteria as to how home education is done, and there is no reason to change this, although the ‘Conservative’ and Labour party have been working together to erode parents’ freedoms in the home. They are planning to bring in compulsory registration for home education, which will eventually inevitably lead to intensive monitoring by Local Education Authorities.
In schools, parents’ rights have been even more fundamentally eroded by the ‘Conservative’ government in a way one would more normally associate with the totalitarian left. In our traditional British understanding, parents send their children to school but they remain in control, but this is no longer the case. The government has empowered and compelled schools to punish parents for making their own decisions about their families. This is the path towards totalitarianism. It should be for parents to decide whether they take their children out of school for an occasional day trip or a week’s family holiday or not.
Some common sense is needed. If parents send their children to a school, they of course need to adhere to some common rules and standards. However, an annual family holiday should be seen as beneficial and enriching rather than detrimental; just as sports competitions and Geography field trips are. Schools should be allowed to grant all pupils up to 10 days per year off normal timetable for any reason – whether for competitions, language trips or a family holiday – or more given an assessment of individual circumstances.
The practise of punishing and fining parents for wishing to have a week-long annual holiday with their children at a time of their choice must come to an end. This practise particularly hurts the poorest families who cannot afford a holiday during school holidays when prices surge.
The ridiculous fearmongering by the totalitarians of the left over family holidays should be rejected, and our millennium-long custom of trusting parents as primary educators upheld.