What makes me mad about this is it is very swift work to get working, law abiding families to court and fine them for taking the kids on holiday for one or two weeks during term time, but very long winded work (often not resulting in court) for parents who are on benefits (waste of time fining them) who don't bother sending their kids to school on a regular basis because they can't be arsed to get themselves out of bed in the morning, let alone the kids, and then spend the day drinking, smoking etc. I know this may sound judgemental, but believe me, I've seen and worked with many families who fit this criteria and they have all sorts of help thrown at them to try and get them to be 'better parents' and have Family Intervention Support Workers and Social Workers who spend time with them. The truancy workers from the County Council will give them a 10 week plan to improve their kids attendance before instigating fines, and so on...
I've taken my son out of primary school every year for one week for a summer holiday in June and he's had another week at some point to tag on to two weeks to go to Australia to see his dad. Our Head Teacher was okay to authorise these as she had the 'ten day grace' option available to her until last year. At Christmas she allowed the week before Christmas to be taken as an 'exceptional circumstance' for him to go and spend three weeks with his dad for his first Christmas and New Year with him in 7 years. I've been told he won't be able to have a year in June this year and she would have to refer his absence to the LEA. I can't risk this, because to go to court and get a fine and a conviction for this would have repercussions on my job. However, due to the nature of my job I can't always get leave in the school holidays!
When he starts secondary school in September I did make the decision that I would not take him out of school from then on in term time because he'd have too much to catch up on when he came back, but if I look back on my life I always had two weeks abroad in term time with my parents right up until I was 16 and it didn't harm my education. If anything, it gave me the confidence and sensibility to travel abroad on my own from 18 because I knew what to expect. For those families who cannot afford to travel in school holidays then the opportunity to travel and experience time abroad will be missed out by many children.
In a nutshell, I think this is crap. The only justice I can see from it is if the money from the fines is then given to the school's PTA to help fund things for the kids - or is this just another government incentive to take money from working families to fund MP expenses?!