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Farron backs right to term-time holidays

September 4, 2015 1:38 PM
By Caron Lindsay in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

I would normally apologise for linking to the Daily Mail, but on this occasion, as the piece in question has a video showing some of Tim Farron's first speech as leader, I'm not going to.

The paper quotes Tim Farron expressing support for a motion that's coming to Conference later this month which would give parents the right to take their children out of school for ten school days for holidays.

He told them:

"Many employees have no choice when to take their holidays.

"People in areas, such as my Westmorland constituency, have to work all through the summer at the height of the tourism season.

"So, it's vitally important to offer more flexibility to schools and headteachers to help families who need to take a break together".

Thornbury and Yate member Karen Wilkinson has written several times for Liberal Democrat Voice about the law change, describing it as "illiberal." writing in 2013:

"This deeply illiberal measure goes to the heart of the relationship between the state, the individual and family life. As one parent said "It is time we re-established parents as the primary carers". While schools are targeted on the exam results, my target is happy, well-balanced, well-rounded, open-minded, emotionally intelligent children equipped to deal with the fact of existence, life, death and a rapidly changing world. The state's role is to facilitate that, not to take it over or inhibit it."

Since then we have seen reports of children being denied requests for absence to even attend their parent's wedding, or, even worse, funeral, or to spend time with them before they died.

Promoting attendance at school is important, but it's also important to be flexible and realistic. The reality is that if some kids can't have a term time holiday, then they won't have a holiday at all. For all thirteen years of their school career. That does not seem right.

I was one of those parents who happily took my child out of school, usually for the last few days, because it saved a fortune. We had to stop doing that when said child expressed a wish to stay for the last-day talent competition. It was a great experience for a young child to be ordering stuff in Spanish for us and I wonder if that's set off a total, almost obsessive passion for languages. But just having that time and space out with family, wherever it is, is a really important part of growing up. It should not be for the state to dictate that a family should only do that in a few specified weeks per year. There are all sorts of reasons why that is impractical. The liberal thing is to give parents the choice and that's why I support the motion coming to conference.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings