As a secondary school pupil I remember sinking down in my chair as my dad challenged my French teacher at parents’ evening about the educational benefit of a school trip to Boulogne-sur-Mer.
I just wanted to go because all of my friends were, my dad said the teachers were using the trip as a facade for a booze cruise so they could fill the coach with red wine and cheese.
Whether this was the case or not, my teacher responded saying we would learn about French culture, sample French foods and speak French to the locals. All I remember doing was trying to find a McDonald’s and asking for a hamburger by dropping the ‘h’ and saying merci instead of thank you, but she had a valid argument in my eyes.
The next time I experienced the same sink-down-in-my-chair feeling was at a meeting about a school ski trip. Looking back now I realise my dad had — and still does — have a point.
I didn’t go on the week long ski trip. I stayed in school and carried on lessons as normal. The kids (and teachers) on the ski trip didn’t see a book or write a word the whole time they were there. They still seem to be doing ok.
I don’t think Jon Platt, the father who has taken his fight against a fine for taking his daughter on holday during term time to the Supreme Court, has ever set out to have a negative impact on his daughter’s education.
Watching an interview with him after the ruling, he explained in the simplest of terms his decision. Of his three children, two are at one school, one is at another, the two schools have different half term dates. The daughter on her own at school was taken out of class so the family could holiday together. Perfectly logical in my view, even more logical if this was the cheaper way of doing things.
Of course, this has now escalated into something more than just family logistics.
I have spent some time reading up on the different arguments surrounding whether parents should be able to take their kids out of school in term time or not and the one thing I just can’t get my head around is the lack of common sense.
As a rule, people don’t want to jet off every few weeks leaving teachers to pick up the pieces, they want to take their kids on holiday so they can spend family time together and at a reasonable price.
If missing one week of school can have such a huge impact then by rights kids should be geniuses by the start of the Christmas holidays.
Going back to school trips, most schools have them, they have days out at the very least, and why? Because they are educational and beneficial to pupils. And so are holidays.
School and education is one of the most important things in a child’s life and as far as I can see no one disputes that.
Is Jon Platt a criminal because of his actions? Definitely not.
Should all parents who do the same be fined and prosecuted? Definitely not.