Holidays – costs (bit of a rant)

Sorry, ranting again.  Part of me thinks it would be much better for my blood pressure to quit Facebook, even people I like very much can press the wrong buttons through it.  It is very, very rarely anything they say (I have nice friends!) more the things that somehow end up forwarded on to my feed.  The big thing that is currently cluttering it up is people complaining about fines for taking the kids out of school and the cost of holidays during school holidays.  And actually with Jack in school now it does directly effect me.

The second one I have no problem with people having a bit of a moan about, they are not cheap and they go up so steeply.  But I do get very annoyed at people complaining it is not fair!

It is basic economics, we live in a Capitalist society.  They are companies who provide these holidays not government funded services, therefore their purpose is to make profit. They will charge as much as they can for any given time.  They can only charge what people will pay or they are left with empty accommodation and reduce prices.

By complaining about these costs it is really a complaint that some people have more money. The answer is socialism!

What are the options for reducing costs? Tax breaks for the companies if they offer so many holidays below a certain cost, state regulation and interference in the market, government subsidies, government run holiday parks? All options that are financially a disaster, the tourist industry is massive and generates lots in taxes, capping that means less money in the government purse to pay for essential services. And using government money to fund holidays is ludicrous, even if the funding was capped to a few (let’s not worry where the money is coming from – libraries, social care?) it would be a nightmare to administer and there would be moral outrage in the Mail every week!

As to fines, I have a bit more sympathy here but more sympathy for the teachers.  Those of us who are parents of school age children now are children of the 70’s and 80’s, in those days there was no Ofsted, no league tables or SATs, no National Curriculum, schools had more flexibility so they could be more flexible.

Schooling is very different now to 30 years ago.  When I was training as a teacher it was in the early days of the numeracy and literacy hours (no idea if these still exist), and there was a big book for each that told you what you had to teach in any given week.  I suspect and hope things have improved from then but know there are still a lot of controls.  Controls not just on what is taught but how it is taught with a big emphasis on group work.

Many parents use the argument that children learn a lot on holiday through experience and the cementing of family relations.  I absolutely believe this and is one of the major reasons why we home educate.  But a school is responsible for the education of 100’s of children.  Children missing weeks of school cause disruption to the education of others.  It takes up valuable teacher time to ensure that these children cover what is missed as well as being disruptive to group work and classroom dynamics.

Attendance policies are clearly laid out in school documents, people know the score when they send a child to school.  And lets make it clear it is a choice.  No one has to be tied to school holidays, home education and private school (usually comes with much longer holidays) are perfectly legitimate options.  All three have pros and cons, expensive holidays being one of the cons of school. But you make your choice and have to take the rough with the smooth.

What is the alternative? Teach children that we can pick and choose which rules, and most rules exist for a reason even if we may not see/agree with it, we follow (never ever get me started on under 13’s on Facebook – you’ll regret it!), that our own short term pleasure is more important than our responsibility to support the needs of others?

Harsh I know, but that is the way I see it.  After all, no one ‘needs’ a holiday, it isn’t that long ago that the only days off were Sundays and bank holidays with no entitlement to annual holidays.  There are some cases when yes time out of school is justified (weddings/funerals/medical/Service personnel leave…) and schools should be more amenable here and probably would be if there were less ‘just holidays’.

All that aside I do think this is an issue partly of the government’s making with over regulation of education.  If schools were given more flexibility then perhaps they could organise it that they had ‘lax weeks’, the sort of weeks where they focus on the more fun side and do trips etc and perhaps they could say to parents we will consider holiday requests during these weeks.  The education time table of terms and long summer break is rooted in the farming communities of Victorian times, long outdated. Everything about state education is in need of a big overhaul and updating, we don’t have the mass employment in factories any more that schools were set up to prepare people for.  We need education to be more flexible in every way.

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