“A couple who took their three children out of school for a family holiday during term time have been fined £630.”
Some of my finest childhood memories are of family holidays, where as well as social development, you begin to fully understand that there is another world out there beyond your own culture, your own country. Though I was privileged enough to come from a family that could afford, just about, to holiday during the school holiday period, people on the lower end of the pay scale are certainly under threat.
Those who are rich enough can afford the peak-prices and the luxury, quite often, of being smug about putting their child’s education first, will continue to do so, unaffected by this invasion on parental responsibility. Furthermore, those with significant financial wealth that don’t ‘value’ their child’s education can simply pay off the fine and still retain control, removing the child from school at a whim if necessary.
Working class families at the bottom end of the pay-scale, however, will find themselves priced out of holidays, competing with the wealthy during peak season and so the local park will have to do for now. This is a class issue if there ever was one. If you’re on £12000 per year, believe me, you’d be lucky to afford a holiday for the typical family of four at all, even outside of the peak school holiday period.
It would seem that the supporters of this proposition have a fundamental misunderstanding of both supply and demand with imposing these fines.
First of all… Why do parents take their children on holiday during term-time? Apart from work commitments; the biggest single reason comes down to price as it is significantly cheaper. For those on measly incomes, such as the minimum wage, taking your children on holiday in the school holidays is not a choice; it is a must, if you can afford to go at all.
The biggest cause for peak-season prices is the rigidity of our schools that will not allow a seven day break during term-time, thus creating the price hikes in the first place. Strengthening this rigidity with silly fines can only add to the problem.
What will these fines achieve? If they work as designed then children lose out on their holidays, along with the cultural exchange, then a guarantee of higher prices for peak-holiday periods and cheaper holidays during term times, widening the disparity between the two substantially.
The result will be super-cheap holidays during term times, to match the now lower demand. The working classes will then have to choose between not going on family holidays until their children reach the age of sixteen, or becoming criminals by lying to the authorities on the reasons for their child’s absence, taking up the low cost options.
A Paranoid Warning on Totalitarianism
It would seem that the old fashioned notion of the parent being sovereign over their own children is dying on its feet. This article might seem like a complete over reaction, perhaps it is, but there is justification.
We are experiencing a gradual shift towards totalitarianism, of course we haven’t been told or asked about this, it hasn’t been in the manifests of the political elite, but this of course is the danger. Totalitarianism creeps upon us, it doesn’t ask permission, as the answer would be no; ID cards (narrowly avoided), smoking bans, racial meddling, stop and search laws, upcoming obesity taxes and laws… Did New Labour, or the rest of the political elite for that matter, include these in their manifestos?
The imposition of fining parents is another step in removing parental responsibility, if we continue down this path then where will it end? Removing the right to home school? Deciding that your child is too sick to attend school? Perhaps even discussing politics with your children?
We should be a great deal more wary of handing our rights and responsibilities over to the state, as is fashionable at the moment; it’s much harder to get them back.