Here's a case which was all over the news in the UK last week : a father took his daughter out of school for 1 week during term-time, to take her to Disneyworld Florida. In the UK, parents are fined for taking their children out of school in term-time - £60 per child, per parent, which rises to £120 if you don't pay the fine within 21 days.
This particular father, Jon Platt, argued that as his daughter had an attendance record of more than 90%, including this holiday, he should not be fined. The High Court ruled in his favour. This now has a lot of implications for other parents who have already been fined (last year 50,414 fines were issued!) The government is going to close the loophole that allowed Jon Platt to win his case, and make everything even stricter.
But the government says there is clear evidence "that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chance of gaining good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances".
So what do you think? Many parents argue that they know what is best for their children, and the government should not interfere. Should it be up to the headteacher if a student can miss school? Do you agree? Or should all absences be punished to stop people abusing the system?
The other problem for parents is that taking a holiday during school holidays is much more expensive than in term-time. Should holiday companies be prevented from taking advantage of the restrictions on term-time absences?
In my opinion, having a holiday with family and spending time in a different place is priceless. My parents took us out of school every year for 2 weeks for a family holiday, usually to Brittany. (My father was a farmer so he had to do the harvest during the summer holidays.) I have such wonderful memories of those holidays and I'm sure spending time in France helped to develop my love of languages.
Did missing school have a lasting effect on our life chances? Well...my sister is an ex-helicopter flying instructor and now a risk management specialist, my brother is a broker in Hong Kong. And it's true that I did miss the German class where we learnt the imperfect tense. I still managed to study German at university and live and work in Austria for a year. So I think we did ok, in spite of the term-time holidays.
term-time the time of year when there are classes at school or university
to be fined (for sth) have to pay money for doing something illegal
a loophole (in the law) a mistake in a law which means you can avoid following that law
GCSEs exams that students take at 16 years old in the UK
it's up to you it's your decision. We can use this for lots of people: it's up to her, it's up to my friend
the headteacher the person in charge of a school in the UK
Brittany the north-west peninsula of France
My blog has changed! If you're looking for my English-practice exercises, they're all still here, just look in the archives.
Catherine: blogging about learning, language, culture, France and more...