Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Travel is Education - So What Harm Is a Bit of Time Off School Going To Do ?

I have always stood firm in my commitment that I will not take my children out of school once they start year 1 I will not book holidays during temr time, but heres the thing, Peanut is in year one now and I'm waivering on my committment. Because Travel is Education right?

My children can say several phrases in Greek, and Spanish, they've spent afternoons playing with children from 5 different countries and they've all managed to communicate just brilliantly without the need to all speak the same language. they've celebrated Easter in Crete learning about the traditions of Greece and the celebrations that take place. They have done all of this on family holidays, some of which took place DURING TERM TIME!

Easter in Greece tends to fall differently to the UK as they follow a different religious calendar, so we would not have been able to celebrate with the many friendly and welcoming Greeks had we not have missed school. Yes you heard it The Monkeyfooted Mummy is a school skipper! Now then this particular trip was taken whilst Peanut was in nursery and therefore had no compulsory need to attend, although we did ask and, have granted, permission to take time off.

Do I think it's wrong to miss school? Yes I do. I think taking two weeks off school to sit around a pool drinking cocktails and getting a tan while your kids attend kids club is not beneficial to their education. I think the excuse that holidays are cheaper during term time is exactly that, an excuse. We are each responsible for ensuring our child maintains a standard of education and our poor teachers don't get the luxury of cheap holidays (well most of them don't) BUT I understand that not everyone has the funds to afford a holiday otherwise. Imagine though that a 2 week holiday is 5% of in-school time, so they are learing only 95% of what they should!

Is there ever a time that children should be allowed out of school? Is travel ever Education? Yes I think it is, I believe wholeheartedly that my children learned more in 10 days in Crete celebrating Easter than they will have learned at nursery, we still did our reading and writing and we constantly pull education into everything we do 'how many fishes do you see, what letter can you read,, which do you think is higher etc' But I don't think 10 days staying in an All Inclusive hotel and never leaving to discover your host country and culture is educational although there is a benefit to the uninterrupted family time that you would have.

So is Travel Education? I think it can be and I think a blanket ban does not work, just recently we had the opportunity to take the family to India for 2 weeks, but it would have been 2 weeks in the school term, it would also have been two weeks at a perfect temperature for the children, unlike going in the summer. The trip would have involved visiting housing in Delhi in all ranges, from the slum areas right up to luxury apartments and housing. We would have seen the Taj Mahal and traveled on an Indian train (an experience never to be forgotten by all accounts) but we didn't go, because the school wouldn't have been able to grant permission. Do I regret that decision, yes I absolutely do, so much that at the next opportunity we will leap at the chance regardless of any fines, I will however begrudge any money I have to pay in education fines when I know my children will have learned things not on the curriculum, not in any book and nothing they could have learned sitting in a classroom.

It is a sad state of affairs that our head teachers can no longer use their own judgement on individual cases, like ours for instance. As a Head Teacher would it not seem like a perfectly brilliant opportunity to allow two of your pupils the chance to see India in all its splendour, and all of it honesty, to see different cultures and religions, witness first hand how other children learn and live? Honestly I think any head would be bonkers to refuse this chance to his/her students so long as it wasn't during assessment time.

So much can be gained outside of the four walls of school that I hope our government rethink a blanket ban and start to consider the flexibility of gaining education away from school.
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  1. Agreed! And I shouldn't really say that as a teacher!

  2. Emma most of my teacher friends agree too!