A new ‘Eduvacations’ campaign by leading family travel website Take The Family, backed by hundreds of parents, will help tackle the issue of ‘truancy’ by kids who are actually holidaying during term-time. Almost 65,000 pupils a day missed school in the 2008/09 academic year, according to the Department for Children, Schools and Families. After illness, family holidays taken in term-time were the second most common reason for absence.
The initiative would make the current entitlement to 10 days off during term time a legal right – it’s currently offered only at the individual head teacher’s discretion, and parents who fly against their school’s ruling risk incurring a fine of £100. Parents would have to demonstrate that the holiday will have significant educational aspects by submitting a form to show how the trip will tie in with their child’s current learning stage. They would also be required to encourage their children to keep a diary of their trip.
Daniel Raven-Ellison, Geography Educator at the Geography Collective and a Take the Family writer, said: “You can have teaching without learning and holidays that are more educational than being at school. It’s about time the public debate about holidays stops being monopolised by target-hungry ‘Education Welfare Officers’ so we can start a serious conversation about how we can tap the potential of holidays for learning. Clearly, visiting new people, places and environments offers more potential for learning than the confines of a classroom, and the current reductionist approach to term-time holidays does nothing to support learning in term-time holidays, the vast majority of which are authorised.”
Take The Family’s new poll reveals that a whopping 92% of parents actively support the idea of holidays with some kind of learning aspect, while only 8% thought that children's learning should be limited to the classroom. Of those in favour of 'Eduvacations', roughly half believed that holidays are the ideal learning experience, while the other half believe that only some holidays should be educational, with others devoted to fun and relaxation.
Rhonda Carrier, the website’s editor and mother of two pupils at a south Manchester primary school, said: “We believe that schools should actively encourage parents to take their kids to places they’re studying as part of the National Curriculum. I’m lucky enough to have a forward-thinking school where the cultural benefits of holidays and of visiting family abroad are recognised. Indeed, who’s to say that seeing the world will not actually both improve grades later on as well as producing more well-rounded, balanced and broad-minded individuals? The support of so many teachers and parents for our campaign shows that there’s a real need for the government to adopt a more holistic approach towards our children’s education. It shouldn’t all be about targets and assessments.”
The survey was carried out between 9 September and October 31 2009. Results below.
.The poll results were as follows:
Do you think that family holidays should be educational?:
A total of 448 families participated in the poll. Of those, 147 families said ‘Yes. Children learn heaps when on holiday, it is an ideal learning experience’; 69 families said 'No. Holidays are for relaxing and recuperating; the children's learning place is at school’; and 232 families said ‘Maybe some holidays but not all – kids need a break too’.
In a follow-up survey in which 52 families took part, when asked the same question, 24 said ‘Yes..’, 4 said ‘No..’, and 25 said ‘Maybe..’, and when asked ‘Do you think schools should give parents permission to take their children on an educational holiday during term time?’, 31 said ‘yes’, 3 said ‘no’, and 22 said ‘on a limited basis’.