I don’t think so.
From now on, if you take your kids out of school, you’re going to be in biiiiig trouble.
The Federal Government has ordered that all schools’ attendance records be made public, in an attempt to shame schools with high absentee rates and get them to put pressure on parents.
Oh, back off. Give us a break.
Obviously there are real problems with truancy, and no doubt there are some parents out there who don’t give a stuff about their child’s schooling. But you can’t boil it all down to attendance figures.
My daughter’s school has heaps of families that have migrated from other countries. Kids are often taken on lengthy overseas trips, especially if they have a sick relative. Surely, it’s up to the family to decide their own priorities.
And if parents do pull their kids out of school for a long holiday, is that such a bad thing? Some of the most creative and brilliant people I know had parents who took them travelling when they were young.
Kids whose parents can afford to take them overseas are lucky. Travel opens children’s minds and teaches them all sorts of things they can’t learn in a classroom.
Education isn’t just about sitting at a desk from 9am to 3pm.
There's been outrage in the media about parents beginning their family holidays before the end of term to get cheaper plane fares. But what if that's the only way they can afford the trip? And let's not pretend that real lessons are taking place right up until 3pm on the last day of school.
Then there's the issue of absence from school due to illness. We really don't need parents feeling pressured into sending their kids along to class when they're still contagious. I always keep my seven-year-old home from school when she's sick, even if it's just a bad cold (yes, I'm lucky I work from home and can do that).
Illnesses sweep through primary classes faster than a loom bands craze. I'm doing my bit to help stop the spread.
Surely what matters more than attendance rates is parents' attitude to education. Obviously, if kids are going to be absent from school, parents need to talk to teachers about what they're going to miss while they're away and need to be prepared to help their kids catch up.
Parents are a child's most important educators, anyway. They're the ones who make sure there are lots of interesting books in the house and who encourage kids' curiosity about the world by answering their questions.
And yes, I plan to take my two kids on overseas trips when they're old enough to appreciate it - whether it's school holidays or not.
Would you take your child out of school during term time for a holiday?
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