The Department for Education made some rules changes in 2013 which meant that headteachers in the UK are no longer allowed to authorise family holidays during term time, except under exceptional circumstances (which are subjective). For many of us parents, this felt like a violation of human rights. Parents should get a say whether or not they take their children out of school for a family holiday. I am one of those parents. I feel that if my child has had good attendance at school, is doing well, not falling behind and our holiday will not fall during any important dates, such as exams, then I should have the option, to reward my child with a holiday.
The team at BookFHR.com have launched a campaign called “Travel is Education”.
“We think that pitting a week in a classroom against an opportunity to explore a new place and culture, spend quality time with family and break daily routine is a very tough comparison. Subjects you learn in the classroom can seem pretty abstract without context – travel is a fantastic way to bring studies to life and spark passion in a child.”
I wholeheartedly agree with that last line. I think there are so many things a child can learn from travel. Children can learn about geography, history, languages, different cultures, climates, cuisines and ethnicities. Even just from boarding a plane, they have the opportunity to learn about travel safety and security, passport control, immigration, the type of plane they are travelling on, how aeroplanes work, altitudes, latitude, longitude, wind speed, aerodynamics, hospitality and the list goes on. Every sight, every sound, every smell, every taste of something new and foreign is a learning experience. It’s even possible to go a really touristy destination for a simple beach holiday and still learn an awful lot.
Then there are health benefits to going on holiday too. I’ve lost count of the number of studies I’ve read, about how a holiday from work or school break the monotony of a heavy workload, boost morale, confidence, attention span and physical wellbeing. Particularly holidays to warmer climates where holidaymakers are subjected to a healthy dose of Vitamin D, fresh air and exercise. And don’t underestimate the power of family bonding on a child’s psyche.
There are many teacher-types who will try arguing that missing even one week of school is disruptive to a child’s education, but I’m sorry, I’m just not buying that story. As someone who missed somewhere between one and two YEARS of Primary school, due to being in hospital on Chemotherapy, but didn’t actually miss a thing, I truly believe, that out-of-school education is as vital as in-school education. I didn’t even take my SAT’s in Primary school. Why? Because I went to Florida on holiday! Did it disrupt my education? Not in the slightest!
I missed most of years 3 and 4, due to having Leukaemia. I did not use the hospital school. I never retook any of the schooling I missed. I also took two weeks of holidays during term time, every year, throughout my education. I slacked off entirely during years 10 and 11 of secondary school too and ended up in the guidance centre for most of the last term, as I’d done no work for two years. Now I’m not saying I’m a great role model (I’m really not), but I am pointing out that I learnt an AWFUL LOT about LIFE, about things that matter more than school. I learnt a lot from my holidays too.
I am now 29 years old and I have the following:
9 GCSE’s (8 of which are grades A-C)
1 AS Level
3 A Levels
1 Bachelor of Arts Degree in management WITH HONOURS at level 2:1
2 WSET Certificates
1 Trident Award
1 Food Hygiene Certificate
1 First Aid Certificate
2 Welcome Host Certificates
2 Staff Training Qualifications
All of which, were passed the first time. I also have the additional Pass Plus qualification on my drivers licence.
Personally, I’d say that’s not bad for someone who missed YEARS of school, hates studying and openly admits that I never tried hard in any part of my education.
I realise that I’m not everyone and not all children would adapt to missing as much of their education as I did, but the point is, we are quibbling about a ONE WEEK family holiday here. Precious family time. I can also say, from the standpoint of someone who has had Cancer twice, both as an adult and as a child, that you should never underestimate the importance of family time. Life is too short.
There are many families in the UK in which one parent works away and their family holiday is the one chance they get in the year, to bond with their children. Their jobs don’t always permit them leave during the school holidays. There are many people who cannot afford to book a holiday in the school holidays, because the prices go up with demand. And no… holiday companies aren’t going to just lower their prices as a solution. Where’s the business sense in that? This isn’t a nation of altruism, it’s one recovering from a recession.
I actually feel so strongly about this issue, that I joined a movement on Facebook called “Parents want a Say“, which is campaigning to get the rule changes reversed.
I also blogged very briefly about this topic once before, on my family lifestyle blog, in a post titled “No more family holidays in term time“. Read the last line of that post. I made a prediction that many children will be off school with an “illness” and coming back with a tan. And I was right. The majority of parents are still taking their children on holiday, regardless of the new rules. Many of them are just choosing to accept the £60 fine and the unauthorised absence. Some are accepting the unauthorised absence but appealing the fine (I did this last year); and the rest are lying that their child is ill, to escape the fine. I will hold my hands up and admit that I have done this too.
Travel is important to me and my family. So is our children’s education. We want them to do well in school. But we want those two things to work harmoniously together. We want the right, to be able to take our children on holiday for one or two weeks per academic year, during term time, because Travel IS Education.
This post was written in collaboration with FHR Airport Services