Some holidays during term can be better than school

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There can be a strong argument for taking your children out of school.

Imagine parents wanting to pluck their three children from the classroom for a two-week road trip through Europe during term-time when accommodation costs are far cheaper.

They plan to visit the D-Day beaches and the First World War battlefields and cemeteries of France and Belgium.

Then they head down through Germany and into Poland stopping off at Auschwitz before ending in Italy, spending time in Rome and Naples, the latter for Pompeii and Herculaneum.

History, geography, maths, languages and the arts all rolled into one, as well as perhaps the most important lesson of all – learning to adapt to different cultures.

Those responsible parents might also insist homework for missed lessons is done nightly and filed back to the school via their children’s laptops. A lesson in honing IT skills there.

And then there are those parents who simply fancy a cheap term-time fortnight in the sun sitting around a pool while their offspring are cared for childminders. Bit of a no-brainer isn’t it? Surely it should be up to the headteacher to judge each request on its merits?

But there are some parents, in these days of fines for those whose youngsters miss lessons, who obviously weigh up the savings they can make on a term-time holiday against the £60 fines per child and decide it’s still economically viable to pull them out of school.

As we report today, Portsmouth City Council issued 796 fines to parents in the 2012-13 academic years. Hampshire County Council? Just 58.

Now Hampshire, responsible for schools in Fareham, Gosport and Havant, is taking a leaf out of Portsmouth’s book and is imposing tougher criteria on its children and parents. Apart from sickness and some extreme circumstances, we agree with the ethos that children must be in school during term: all day, every day.

Perhaps Hampshire has been more liberal in the past, but it’s time it fell in line with Portsmouth – as long as those educational holidays are still considered to be just that, educational.

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