Letter: Term-time holidays

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The Independent Culture
Sir: However much I sympathise with Marian McCain's splendid defence (letter, 1 January) of the educational and cultural benefits of taking her children out of school for a three-month tour of Europe in 1977, I'm afraid the argument doesn't stand up 22 years later.

Any schoolchild's absence over and above the statutory 10 days of family holiday is now registered as unauthorised absence, published in league tables and interpreted by the public as "truancy rate". In addition, children on holiday during SATs can artificially depress the school's scores, which are also published in league tables.

It is unfair to accuse the National Association of Head Teachers of preferring their pupils to be "manacled to their desks"; they are only trying to make a crude league table system work. Perhaps the time is approaching for a more enlightened definition of what constitutes "education" to be seriously debated, together with a vigorous attack on the causes of genuine truancy.


Thriplow, Cambridgeshire