COLUMN: ‘Gove deliberately linked holiday absence rates to social issues’

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On Thursday, parent Jon Platt had his term time holiday fine upheld in the Supreme Court.

This comes after great expense and months of legal wrangling through the court system.

To understand the origin of this issue we have to go back to September 2013, prior to which headteachers could grant leave of absence of up to ten days for the purposes of a family holiday during term time in ‘special circumstances’. Sensible? It would seem so.

Then along came Michael Gove, the then Education Secretary, who effectively banned headteachers from sanctioning term time holidays. He did this to help ‘stop the conveyor belt to crime, teenage pregnancy, child neglect and abuse’ – deliberately and misguidedly linking ‘holiday’ absence rates to this range of social issues.

Thus Jon Platt – who refused to pay his fine for taking a week’s holiday to Disney World during term time because his other children went to different schools with different holidays.

This week the Supreme Court finally ruled against him and the Prime Minister announced that it was for schools to decide on absences.

It would therefore seem that we are back in exactly the same position we were in prior to Gove, prior to 2013.

Some might thank him for his meddling. Others might consider his actions misguided and ironically, uneducated.

Gove himself said this week that the answer lies in ‘better regulation of the tourism market’.

We shall await positive developments on this issue. But I for one won’t be holding my breath.