Term time holidays....good or bad?

Date: 15th Feb 2017 @ 3:23am

Holidays in term time are in the news. A father has taken the case to the High Court. Is it right for parents to be fined for taking their children out of school? Does it matter? Should schools have more discretion? There are many questions & arguments around this topic...many people feel strongly, one way or the other.

What we know at St. Mary's is this. Even a few days out of school can hinder your child's progress. A junior class this week was learning long division. Who has nightmares from their childhood about learning such content? I do! In short, there's a lot of content in our Maths curriculum; if you miss it on a holiday, you come back to school lacking that confidence; feeling that you aren't quite 'up with the pace'....that you are playing 'catch up'. And it's not easy, as a child; because the rest of the class have moved on, to the next concept.

And thats just by missing one subject, Maths. Maybe in English, you've missed grammar lessons on the use of apostrophes. After all, we teach this right from the age of 6 now. And then there are lessons on History, Geography, Science..and much more....imagine that feeling of having missed a chunk of it - and being behind. You can see how those who are never absent from school do achieve more highly - and crucially, have more confidence and higher self esteem.

I grew up in Anfield, Liverpool, in a council house, with my four brothers and sisters; and a mum and dad who had no qualifications. We went to a caravan in Prestatyn, North Wales every year for summer holidays, had little money; but we were very happy. But you see, lack of money doesn't mean lack of expectations. The point is that my mum and dad never allowed us to have term time holidays - because they valued education too much; and I bet it was the same for many of you. I was basically sent to school feeling ill at times! And it was fine, because I had no permanent damage (!) & I was hardly ever off so I did well in school, against the odds; and that helped me to to get a great job....as did all my other brothers and sisters. This is the way school works. If you're there more often, you do better. End of. I can say that after 30 years of working in education. We see it all the time here; everyone who works in the school agrees with this.

We have 13 weeks of school holidays per year. Please use them. Term time holidays do damage your child's achievement; and also their confidence. Look at the bigger picture and listen to the professionals. The teachers organisations are all saying the same thing. It's not about court cases, bolshy headteachers or parental rights - it's about individual pupils and helping them to be the very best that they can be. I am often looking at our children in classes, achieving highly; and thinking 'will one of them be a future headteacher of St Mary of the Angels?' If they keep coming into school every day, I dream that one of them will! (And they'll probably do a better job than me!!)

UPDATE; 28/4/17. Following the recent court case, where the Supreme Court ruled against parents' taking their children on term time holidays, fixed penalty notices and prosecutions will return in Cheshire West and Chester. More details about how this works, in the 'Parents' tab on this site, in the section 'Holidays and Attendance'.

Thanks everyone. R.H.

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St Mary of the Angels Primary School, Rossall Grove, Little Sutton, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire CH66 1NN