Although it pains me to say this, there is an exceptional time when children should be able to take time off school during term time. This is for one instance only: Health.
This could really be considered as compassionate grounds and some may say, a different criteria, but nevertheless, I feel it is the only time that absence from school for a holiday break should be allowed.
If a close family member finds themself with a life-changing, life-threatening or terminal illness and that opportunity to spend quality time together that will never be recaptured and cannot wait, then ‘yes’, a student should be allowed time off.
However, if a parent bleats that they cannot afford a family holiday during the school holidays, or that they cannot take time off at the same time as the student, the answer is a definite, ‘No’. If this sounds harsh then so be it. Life can be harsh and compromises have to be made along life’s pathway. What sort of lessons are we teaching our offspring if we just ‘take’ what we want? There are consequences to breaking the rules and we have to be aware of these and accept them if we overstep the mark – as one family currently in the media are experiencing.
As far as home schooling goes, my answer would be much the same except for another defining factor. That is, are the students working through term times as part of their study plan? I know I am! As their distance learning tutor I am making myself available 52 weeks a year for any contact they wish to make in order for them to get the best possible experience from home schooling. Therefore, if they are working the length of July, August and September and then take two weeks holiday in October, I consider this has been earned. But if they took the customary six weeks’ school summer holiday because siblings were off school and then took another two weeks in October, I would be unimpressed and very disappointed. Moreover, the parents would not, I imagine, suffer the vitriol of the LEA.
Home schooling is not an easy option and has to be well organised, motivated and requires commitment from all family members. That commitment usually requires more time in lessons, not less. As long as the student and parents are clear that home schooling is flexible but not a permit to do as they please without consequences, then that commitment will reap rewards. After all, LEA aside, the consequences are exam results!