Should you take your child out of school for a holiday? Well, I have always been a firm believer of not copping out when it comes to responsibility and setting a good example. When it comes to Grace and schooling, I am proud of her and the record she has attained with her attendance. Ross and I have always said to her ‘don’t get ill, get awesome!’. At the end of the last school year she received a headmasters award for 100% attendance and, this year, she was gutted when she had two days off with a sick bug.
When we were offered a trip to Forest Holidays back at the beginning of last year, we were told that it had to be taken in term time. Uncertain of how to play it, we decided to go over a bank holiday in May and see if she could get the Friday off of school. We could have lied to them and said she was off sick, but what sort of example does that set to Grace? Instead, we applied through a holiday request form via the proper channels. However, due to the change in rules, our application was rejected and we found out that the school had decided to comply with the Department of Education and the fines imposed on parents who took their children out for holidays during term time.
It wasn’t the first time we had applied. Back in January 2012, when Grace was in her former school and first school year, we decided that we needed a break after a long few months of me directing a pantomime. We applied for the last week of January – a much cheaper week to go to Center Parcs! We decided that Grace was young enough for it not to affect her too much and that she would learn plenty from the experience. The school explained the drawbacks of taking her out and, because Ross and I agreed that these were minimal, the school approved our holiday.
So, how did we solve the dilemma of last year? We agreed that the school should not be told that Grace was ‘sick’. We wanted to show her that she should not duck out of responsibility and commitment. Instead, we left to go on our break straight after school on that Friday. It still meant that she had the rest of that day, the Saturday, Sunday and Monday – as it was a bank holiday.
Yes, you can argue that travelling is a form of education. In fact, one of the things that we explained to the school was that Grace would be meeting with the ranger at Forest Holidays and learning lots of information about animals, survival techniques and the forest in general (she learned so much that we wrote about it on kidGLloves – both bush skills and pond dipping) but I believe that this should not be at the expense of her mainstream education. Something that every child is obliged to attend.
BookFHR recently launched a campaign called ‘Travel is Education’. They 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 and travel is a fantastic way to bring studies to life and spark passion in a child.
I know that taking a holiday is a huge expense but we would rather choose to stay at home and go on day trips during the holidays, rather than have Grace miss her schooling. I think that both the classroom and travelling offer a child the chance to learn – but one should not be at the expense of another.
This post is written in collaboration with BookFHR