MP's to debate school holiday rules/fines on 24th February

(395 Posts)
mummymeister Fri 21-Feb-14 12:44:40

Please can I ask anyone who feels as strongly as I do to write to their MP and ask for the changes in the rules regarding school holidays to be reversed. there is a back bench debate at 4.30pm on the 24th February and it is really important to bring this issue to the fore. There have been so many stories on MN of people wanting a day for funeral, to attend a family event, to visit family abroad that I know if all of us affected or who feel strongly write in at least we will have tried.

prh47bridge Thu 27-Feb-14 00:46:11

So if the stats are right, we should now be seeing a measurable national increase in performance

One year won't make much difference. The pupils being measured this year will only have been subject to the "new" policy for less than a year at the time they take their tests. If the research is correct it needs a sustained improvement over many years. As such there will be no step change in performance and it will be several years before there is any measurable effect from the current changes. However, if they are succeeding in their main target of reducing persistent absenteeism we should see a measurable fall in those figures more rapidly. But even that is some way off - we won't see the figures for the current academic year until May 2015 or thereabouts. And evidence of previous changes is that even that effect will be spread over several years.

he will have done bugger all to solve the real and deep seated problems

Depends what real, deep seated problems you want Gove to solve. He will almost certainly reduce absence. He will almost certainly reduce persistent absence, both in terms of the percentage of pupils who are persistent absentees and the average absence for such pupils. As for bringing down the cost of holidays during school holidays, no his changes won't have that effect. But he is by no means the only person to suggest staggered holidays. It was not him (or even an MP in his party) that suggested this in the debate this week. Despite facing similar obstacles a number of European countries operate staggered holidays without any apparent problems. By the way, the dates of mock exams are not fixed.

mummymeister Wed 26-Feb-14 23:12:52

ahh yes paintyfingers but the great and powerful Gove can say hey look the figures for absence are down aren't I clever. he will have done bugger all to solve the real and deep seated problems and he knows it but he doesn't give a stuff. his only plan B is to stagger holidays. what an idiot. Christmas and Easter aren't movable and what happens when LEA/schools suggest say all of June off hmm. oh yes that's right Gove me lad what about the GCSE exams and A levels that are also fixed and the 1st March date and the 11+ and mocks. these cant be moved can they. there are just too many things fixed in the calendar that leads to very very little flexibility for schools to change dates. hands up who wants 6 weeks in Dec/Jan and 2 weeks in July or August? no one?

Paintyfingers Wed 26-Feb-14 20:40:52

It won't be there in my view, because the people who have listened and stopped taking time out will mostly be the parents of children in more stable families. I would guess their absence wasn't causative of poorer performance in the first place. So making them attend (with very limited flexibility) will not have given those children anything extra.

Meanwhile the children we should really be trying to help - with parents who have substance abuse problems, chaotic homes, temporary accommodation won't necessarily be attending much better and their grades won't be improving hmm we would be better off focussing on those children and trying to recreate the Tower Hamlets effect in the rest of the UK.

Paintyfingers Wed 26-Feb-14 20:29:01

I'm going to be watching for that trackable improvement at the end of this academic year - SATS, GCSEs, A levels marks should all be up.

lljkk Wed 26-Feb-14 20:22:24

Ruddy excellent point, Painty.
Except the chronic don't-give-a-fig truants will still be themselves and still truanting. And all the social-emotional-hormonal-personal problems that cause most of child-teen underachievement haven't been solved, either.

but the govt can carry on, thinking they can control the impossible.

Paintyfingers Wed 26-Feb-14 20:20:21

I've just thought of another point. I understand absence rates have gone down due to the new policies. So if the stats are right, we should now be seeing a measurable national increase in performance...

lljkk Wed 26-Feb-14 20:09:23

"90% of academic success is determined before a child starts school."
"Nature not nurture decides 75% of how well a child does in school."

I just made those numbers up, but they are the sort of numbers I've heard in recent years, about those factors and others. I really cannot believe that scattered holidays have a crucial impact.

One of a million links to say the same thing.

amimagic Wed 26-Feb-14 19:49:39

And where is the consideration for different types of education? After all, rigid predefined exam-based education is not the kind, and many parents highly prize the learning that their children gain from travel. But, it seems that amongst the financially poorer population, no choice is possible and parents cannot be given the credit to make a value judgement for their own children.

Anyone looking at my family would see that we highly prize education, are cultured and well-travelled by choice, and that we don't always subscribe to the majority view. My son has had term-time holdays nearly every year but is in the G&T stream and top of his year. I understand that this doesn't mean anything, but it does mean that I deeply resent being dictated to so strongly on something that affects our quality of life so badly.

IdRatherPlayHereWithAllTheMadM Wed 26-Feb-14 19:45:30

Its such a load of tosh and rubbish.

Even when I was at primary school sat in a room lost and forgotten learning zilch. I was moved at 9 and a few years later was coming top at most subjects.

That's after pretty much no schooling. I could have been on a jaunt round the world for all the good sitting in that classroom did me.

IdRatherPlayHereWithAllTheMadM Wed 26-Feb-14 19:42:51

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics"

There must be massive flaws in these stats.

Its dangerous to rely on them.

Paintyfingers Wed 26-Feb-14 19:39:01

Tiggy, I agree an example does not equal evidence, but I think most research projects start by someone seeing one piece of evidence that makes them question and then test the orthodoxy by proper research. I just simply don't believe that the ten days of absence itself is causative. Just a gut feeling.

I have no evidence, but I don't think the research has been done to prove me wrong, or at least no one has quoted it on here so far. No one will ever fund a study like that either because who wants to potentially encourage poor attendance?

prh47bridge Wed 26-Feb-14 19:34:20

No way does 90% attendance at say, year 2 in primary school result in such a drop in GSCE results, and most people know this

The statistics are about attendance throughout a child's school life. Again, there is plenty of research to show that poor attendance in any single year, even if it is Y2, has an effect on education outcomes. Children who have 90% or lower attendance at primary school typically have worse attendance at secondary school. These are the children most likely to play truant.

prh47bridge Wed 26-Feb-14 19:30:18

I'm saying that taking 2 weeks off doesn't make a difference

The research does not agree with you. Note the figures I posted earlier. There is a clear relationship between the amount of absence and GCSE grades. If a child misses 5% of school (the average figure) and also misses 2 weeks per year for a holiday their chances of getting 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C including Maths and English are roughly halved. There will be individuals who still perform well despite having poor attendance. There is, of course, no way of knowing how they would have performed if their attendance had been better.

IdRatherPlayHereWithAllTheMadM - I'm sorry you don't agree with the extensive research or the very clear statistics I posted previously. But I'm afraid the figures are clear. There is a direct relationship between the amount of absence and GCSE grades. The reasons behind that absence do not appear to make any difference. To go into a bit more detail, a child with feckless parents will generally get lower grades at GCSE than a child with parents who regard education as a priority. If both children miss 17 days school per year they will typically both end up with GCSEs one grade lower than would otherwise have been the case. The child with feckless parents will still get lower grades overall than the other child but both will be lower than they would have achieved without the absence.

amimagic Wed 26-Feb-14 19:29:26

Prh your statistics do not actually mean much. No way does 90% attendance at say, year 2 in primary school result in such a drop in GSCE results, and most people know this. Also, as per previous posts, attendance itselfmay not actually be the whole cause of these statistics.

There is a middle ground here. Make it apply to GSCE years maybe. Or allow up to 10 days every few years rather than every single year. I just wish people could get a bit of a break here, especially when life is blinking hard. These rules are making children's lives poorer.

IdRatherPlayHereWithAllTheMadM Wed 26-Feb-14 19:11:56

Is that absence due to holidays or due to feckless parenting and children who are playing truant

The reason for absence does not appear to have any significant effect on outcomes.

Bullshit.

tiggytape Wed 26-Feb-14 19:01:03

It was to Beechview and Paintyfingers who had time off but did very well at school. I am a slow typer!
Even if it is established that some children have no ill effects from time off, that isn't the case for everyone. And even if you identify which children can safely take time off with no ill effects, how does that help unless you are going to make special allowances for naturally clever children which of course cannot happen?

And I agree with your point on work / life balance lljkk. In none of these discussions does anyone ever say anything about anyone else in society changing. When people say that their boss refuses them school holiday leave ever, everyone accepts that as totally fine. Nobody ever says there should be exceptions or legislation about that or a tiny amout of flexibility even if it is just once every few years. They all want the school to change plans for a class of 30 rather than a boss to show some leeway just once in a while. Everyone assumes schools and children should be the ones who open longer, fit in around adult routines and schedules, respect adult holidays, accept children coming in and out to suit family commitments even when it is shown that attendance problems do have an impact on outcomes for most children.

Beechview Wed 26-Feb-14 19:00:36

Tiggytape I'm saying that taking 2 weeks off doesn't make a difference.
If you're intelligent, you'll still do well, If you need extra support, you'll probably still need the same amount of support, not a whole lot more because you've effectively dropped a whole GCSE grade by taking 2 weeks off.

lljkk Wed 26-Feb-14 18:58:10

Juggling, I agree with all that, too.

Fair enough lljkk and sorry to hear your DS is unhappy at school.

It's just annoying when people make a correlation between attendance and performance and assume it's 100% correlative without considering tha other factors may be at play. Especially those that should know better, such as politicians.
I feel they are often taking advantage of general ignorance in their use and misuse of stats.

lljkk Wed 26-Feb-14 18:50:15

(not sure who the you is in your last post, tt)

tiggytape Wed 26-Feb-14 18:46:13

So are you saying that parents of very intelligent children (8 As or grammar school entry is good going by anyone's standards and still the exception rather than the norm regardless of time off) should get to choose?

Or parents of children who aren't very clever at all, maybe even struggling at school, but who are very supportive and ensure otherwise full attendance? Should they get to choose?

Or should there just be choice for everyone except a few children identified as having particularly feckless parents and those children should know that the school not their parents get to decide for them because their family doesn't value education enough and they aren't naturally clever enough to rise above the disadvantage this brings?

It is all very well citing individual examples of children who do well despitetaking time off but it doesn't detract from research covering many more examples where this doesn't happen. And it doesn't help resolve anything about the population as a whole unless you really are proposing clever children are treated differntly under holiday rules. Maybe someone will argue this as their exceptional reason for being granted time off - that their child is so talented and the family so supportive that they could miss months off school and suffer no ill effects at all?

lljkk Wed 26-Feb-14 18:42:44

Or you can have a child with a history of bullying & ambivalent feelings about the whole point of education (like DS1). Supportive parents & family background can only get the kid so far.

I emailed HoY about DS, could school give us any help with his truancy impulses or do we just continue with our regime of cajoling-punishing-rewarding & scolding.

No reply from HoY of course. sad

Do you know I'm fed up with stats & correlations; there are other things in life besides school. We live in such a hypocritical age which only gives lip service to the "work-life balance". Arrrgggghhhhh.

Absolutely Paintyfingers - and people always seem to assume that things are causative, barely considering that they could just be co-existing phenomena.
My DNiece had quite poor attendance at secondary school (for no particularly good reason actually) but because home life was otherwise good and wider family was encouraging and supportive etc. (also because she is very bright) she still went to Uni and is now doing well with a place next year to do her PGCE.
This is just about my number one bug-bear, especially when scientific research meets media of any kind hmm (I just like that face!)

Paintyfingers Wed 26-Feb-14 18:24:44

Interesting research about absence and performance. I reckon the days of absence may not actually be causative. In other words, my guess is that the absences are symptomatic of the same factors that lead to the low results. Eg:

If you have more than ten days absence a year you are more likely to have parents who don't prioritise education, a chaotic home life, or health problems which interfere with study.

I am particularly sceptical as I had 90 days off myself during the first year of gcse and still got 8 a grades. I don't think I'm exceptional.

Puzzledandpissedoff Wed 26-Feb-14 17:24:43

There may be some entitled parents out there who think two weeks is a right but don't tar us all with the same brush

Nobody's suggesting nthat ALL parents are the same, but neither can we ignore the many people whose answer is "just say they're sick" or worse

As Tiggy said, the problem with making exceptions is that countless others then cry "me too, me too - it isn't faaaiiirrr!!!" Some exceptions are of course necessary, but equally some parents need to accept that we can't always have precisely what we want - and teach their children the same

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