Go off with your children for term-time holidays? That’s not right - for them or their schools

Parents need to take education seriously – or their offspring won’t

Share

There is something interesting which happens to wealthy, commanding, powerful men when they can’t get their way. They really hate it! They are like giant children in suits and with briefcases. If they don’t get their way, they perform the adult equivalent of lying down, kicking their legs and screaming very loudly. They bridle and cavil and seek any manner of means possible in order to change the situation to one which favours them. Even when what stands in their way is a wholly legal,  democratic and proper system.

Here’s our Prime Minister, threatening to throw all his (and our) toys out of the Euro cot after last week’s election Jean-Claude Juncker. And here is James Haymore, a ‘high flying executive’ who has come over from the States to work in London at JP Morgan. Haymore wanted very much to take  his three children out of school for six days at the beginning of the spring term, in order to go to California with him and Mrs Haymore. Sadly Chancellor Park Primary in Colchester refused to give Toby (11), Hayden (8) and Ellie (5) leave to go. But Mr Haymore, is a man who is clearly not used to the word ‘No’. It was his right! He wanted to go on holiday, a rather long Christmas holiday, with his children. Furthermore, he wanted the children to attend a memorial service for their great-grandfather. It was their right! How important the Haymore family is. He took them anyway.

Chancellor Park Primary was not impressed with this, or at least the local authority wasn’t, and handed the high flying executive a fine for £120, a sum he probably spends every week on gym membership. One can only imagine what ran through Haymore’s high flying head at this point. (Something along the lines of “No! No! I will not bow to your pettifogging rules and regulations, you silly little people.”) He appealed against the fine, and was promptly issued with a summons. He is due to appear at Colchester magistrates court next month arguing that the prosecution is – get this – a breach of his human rights. Never mind the human right to be educated, a right dearly fought for by probably about a billion disadvantaged children in the world every day. We are talking about the human right to go to a memorial service for a great grandfather, and to have ‘family life’  swanning around California. That is more important.

Is it? It strikes me that our schools are in a desperately parlous state at the moment. They simply can’t do anything right. Academies are wrong, free schools are wrong, comprehensives unspeakably wrong. Only a few days ago teachers in ‘inner city schools’  were being berated for putting on too many ‘multicultural’ events, the presence of which apparently puts poor white children off learning anything, and is the reason for their poor performance in class. They are slammed for teaching to the curriculum, for teaching away from the curriculum, for not giving out homework, for giving too much homework. Our schools are depicted as a key source of national malaise, and Mr Gove has become their strict saviour. In terms of the holiday ‘issue’, he has replaced a policy which allowed parents to take up to 10 days of extra leave (with the head’s permission), with one which says It Is Not On. Ever. At all. Not even if your child is extremely clever and essentially can do without six days in class (which, hilariously, was one of Mr Haymore’s arguments.)

I am absolutely with Mr Gove. Parents have got to take schools seriously, because if they don’t, how can their offspring ever see them as something other than a quite nice day care drop in centre which they attend now and then? Surely someone like Mr Haymore, who has clearly been the beneficiary of excellent education, (since JP Morgan doesn’t often employ the illiterate), must see this?

Yes, it is unfair that planes and hotels put up their prices during the holidays. This is what capitalism does. It plays to the market. So be it. Yes, it is sad if a funeral happens to fall in school term, and you are 6,000 miles away. Sometimes an expat family has to make sacrifices. Even if your small children suffer “emotional strain” from losing a great-grandparent. If he was so key to the family unit, why translocate to the UK in the first place? That’s one of the questions I very much hope the magistrate at Colchester asks.

“We are good people” says Mr Haymore. Welcome, hoary old moral high ground.  Indeed, the clichés are abounding. He has already been described in a national newspaper as a “pillar of the community” . “I just hope our story will help change the system,” he continues. I very much hope it doesn’t. If every high-flying pillar of the community hopes that they can stamp their foot and change legislation simply because the current status quo doesn’t happen to suit them, then the hard-fought notion that democratically elected politicians have legal authority in our country is grievously dented.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone