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Date: 05 February 2014

Today's Topic: Fined for taking kids out of school for holidays

Triggers: BBC News Report

My Grump: Yet another example of soft target law enforcement

Rescind this law NOW!

The main reason for taking our children out of school for a family holiday is because the term dates are so bloody expensive, it is a rip off. And I understand there are parents who happily take their kids out of school for a month or two at a time, but this is the exception, rather than the rule.

It's not like we don't know why fines were introduced. Your average politician will tell you that it's for your own good, because our children need their education. I hate it when people piss in my ears and tell me they are doing it for my benefit, or worse, for my children. Everybody knows Ofsted inspectors blow a fuse if the attendance figures don't look all rosy and fine when the spot check is done. It's more to do with ratings than a missed week of school.

By far the majority of people only want a week away. If you have to have a law like this, apply it to parents who take their kids away for weeks or months at a time, as that is far more disruptive to miss a whole term of school. At least then your argument stands up. But a week? I don't think that hurts anyone, least of all the child.

The sad thing is, there are millions of kids now who don't even have a holiday because their parents can't afford to go at peak times. Even Children in Need hasn't got enough resources to keep up with these unfortunate kids. So they don't go.

The solution as I see it, is simple.

If you're going to legislate against parents taking their children out of school at certain times, also make it illegal to profiteer at peak times like school holidays. But you won't do that, because the custom nowadays is to go for the soft target.

Why not change this so that a child can have one period of 5 consecutive days off school per year to go on holiday? The parent would have to show a real holiday booking to prove the absence is genuine, and not just a skive.

I need no convincing that a child who spends a week with his parents and siblings, in a fun packed, playful environment, is far better off psychologically, physically and mentally than he/she can ever hope to get from the same week at school. All too often nowadays, both parents are working, and getting away with the children is a valuable bonding experience for the whole family. Politicians pay lip service to family values and family relationships and then pass dumb-ass laws like this.

It's not like the difference is small. The price hike between non-term holidays and term-time holidays is always hundreds of pounds, and can be nearer a thousand pounds, and this just a week apart for the same holiday. This is never right!

Truancy fines for parents who take children out of school have increased in parts of Cheshire by almost 400%. Penalty fines for parents who break the law can vary from 50 to 100, or much higher if they are prosecuted. Parents who don't pay and are prosecuted can face fines of 1000 or more. If parents are prosecuted for taking their children out of school, they can be fined up to a maximum of 2,500 or three-month jail sentence.

So you can have a nice week away, but then you might not see your kids for the next 12 weeks due to being inside. You've lost your job because now you're a convicted criminal, the fines mean you can't pay the mortgage, the social say you're an unfit parent and take the kids into care, and when you come out your house has someone squatting in it. Hope that week in Spain was worth it.

Actually truancy fines seem to be on the increase throughout the land. Does this mean that parents are just concluding that they will go anyway and hang the consequences? If it does, then that by itself proves the law is unjust and should be recinded, or another solution found. Politicians, get your finger out and sort this ASAP!

Please share your thoughts below, thank you.

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