When term time holidays mean a jail term
In recent years, there have been a number of cases in Great Britain of legal action being taken against parents for taking their children on vacation in term time. Following new legislation in the UK, 26 parents were jailed in 2017, depriving children of their parent for up to a month for the sake of a week in Tenerife. As many parents continue to defy the new legislation, as the leading Montessori academiy of Virginia have to ask, just how harmful is it to a child to miss five days of school in the best Montessori schools in Virginia?
The reason for parents defying the legislation is usually quite simple – vacation prices rise dramatically during official school holidays – In 2016, parents reported that popular resort company, Centreparcs, increased its prices by as much as £680 for a family of four between term time and the school holidays; a price hike which some parents say forced them to take their children out of school. There have been a number of calls for the Government to intervene in these unfair practices but no action has, so far, been taken. Although older children facing important exams should not, of course, be encouraged to miss school, how important is it for younger children?
Some Montessori education professionals in the USA and the UK feel that it’s too distracting for classes to be constantly fluctuating as children are taken out of school, however, others say it can actually be a good thing. Some schools now work this on a merit system whereby a child whose work and attendance record is consistent may be granted term time vacation, encouraging children and parents to make sure that this is the case. On the child’s return to class, teachers then encourage another child to show the holiday-maker the work that he or she missed, therefore encouraging teamwork.
A high price to pay
Whatever a school’s stance on term time vacations, many parents firmly believe that their child experiencing new countries, cultures and ways of life is worth a huge amount – even jail time!