River Wissey Lovell Fuller

The Village Pump Soapbox

May 2003


I am sure we are all pleased to hear that the Government is requiring local authorities to tackle the problem of truancy. Persistent truancy leads to a poorly educated individual and, in all probability, to vandalism. Without doubt it is the responsibility of the parents, but, to date, few offending parents have had the kind of sanctions applied to them that is necessary to deter others. Nevertheless the focus of attention on the problem will, hopefully, help to produce some improvement. What I cannot understand, however, is the linking of cases of parents taking their child away from school for a holiday with those cases of persistent truancy. I do not believe that a week or two of schooling missed is such a serious matter unless, perhaps, it is at a time approaching a major examination/assessment. In my own experience as a child I missed somewhere near 50% of my schooling up to the age of thirteen due to illness and the war, but that did not prove to be an insurmountable obstacle. I cannot believe that the occasional week or two is of such significance.

It is understandable that parents would wish to take holidays at times other than late July and August when prices are at a premium, especially if they have a large family. It is preposterous to talk of fines for parents who do this, which is what is proposed in the new antisocial behaviour legislation to be introduced later this year. It is quite lawful for parents to educate their children at home completely and it is possible that a week's holiday could be more educational in the broader sense than a week at school. State education is already far too rigidly prescribed. To talk of penalising parents who take their children out of school in this way suggests to me that the Government has lost its way and is not focussing on the real problem i.e. parents that do not care.

Ron Watts

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