Our Children’s Education Is Being Damaged - By The Policy Of No Holidays In Term Time
I’m going to make a confession now- it seems that I was a very bad parent when my boys were small. We had a holiday home in Cornwall and a zest for travel and so I constantly took them away for weeks in term time and skipped Fridays to enjoy a long weekend away.
Over the years we had fantastic experiences appreciating Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona, soaking up the culture in Florence and dining in Paris after touring The Louvre. On one memorable occasion I spotted super cheap last minute flights to Santander. This was before schools used email so I sent them a fax to say the boys wouldn’t be in on Monday and we spent a fantastic week Parador hopping along the Atlantic Coast in February.
When the British weather looked good we would drop everything and head to Cornwall where rock pools and beaches provided a different sort of interesting and educational experience.
First of all there is no question that we could not possibly have afforded these trips in prime school holiday time but this is not the real story. Whether it’s stunning beaches, beautiful cathedrals, museums, galleries or The Coliseum the experience of visiting in August is more like an endurance reality show than a holiday. Blazing sun, huge queues, packed restaurants and every form of tout trying to take your money mean that you’ll soon retreat to the hotel or villa to nurse your sunburn and blisters.
So what was the outcome of the disrupted education my sons endured? Well the oldest got A stars in Spanish & French A levels and is currently on his year abroad teaching in the four languages he speaks before returning to complete what will certainly be a first class degree in modern languages. The other who loved rock pools and Cornwall is half way through a degree in marine zoology. They love travel, culture and food and are both excellent cooks.
Now of course you can argue that they are not typical- they are bright and my wife is a qualified teacher so they had a very different experience to a kid from a deprived inner city area. I would argue that the more difficult a child’s circumstances the more important a holiday is and the less likely they are to be able to afford one in school holidays. There are of course important times in the school year not to miss but even the most modest caravan holiday with family will be a positive experience compared to a week in a class full of disruptive kids overseen by a bored and demotivated supply teacher.
With Easter being so early this year we have a long stretch to May half term and we are offering fabulous cottages at really low rates which could be giving families a great experience that is normally out of reach. Of course most of the people making the rules attended and send their children to private schools which have anything up to 10 weeks extra holiday compared to rest of the country and I don’t see them being fined or prosecuted!