My son will be 4 in December. His only Grandparents live in Spain. You all know both of these facts. So any of you with school age children also know the problem we will face in the years to come. Taking him to visit his grandparents during the school holidays will cost a fortune. Forget about going on an ‘actual’ holiday – trust me – the two things are not the same. I thought we still had a year before we needed to really worry about the holiday madness, but it would appear I was wrong.
We moved him to the school Nursery earlier this month, from his old pre-school. When we went to Spain last November for Dad’s 70th birthday, I just told the pre-school the dates as soon as I’d booked the flights. No problem, thanks for letting us know. Obviously, as Dad’s birthday was in November that was in term time. My son was nearly 3 years old.
When we looked at a trip this year, I started by looking at the half term week at the end of October, and just compared with the week before for reference as the cost was above what we could afford. Uuum £500.00 less. Ok with the £500.00 difference we could just about afford it. Money is very tight, the sacrifice for this SAHM, no lovely holidays in the sun, or even Bournemouth for us at the moment! Anyway, Daddy P and I discussed the dates and the prices and our budget. Well, my son is still 3 years old. I didn’t really want to disrupt him at his new Nursery school, but for 4 days at the end of term, at his age, I really didn’t see it being too much of an issue.
When he is in Spain he will see how the Airport works, spend time with the neighbours, learn some Spanish hopefully, and see the local children when they finish school. He will try different foods, visit Sevilla and see all the city has to offer and so much more. A real feast of education. Something he can share with his Nursery upon his return.
But most importantly, he will spend valuable time with his only grandparents. So many of us live a long way away from our parents, that our children don’t get the same grandparent time that some take for granted. I was the same, my Dad’s Mum died before I was born, his father was in a home and died when I was small, my Mum’s parents lived on the Kent coast. In those days without a car or decent motorways – we just didn’t see them very often. A world before the treasure that is Skype!
Anyway, back to holiday madness. The flights were booked, my son starts his new Nursery School. I mentioned the holiday to his Teacher at the same time I mentioned about his hearing test. She’s also new to the school, and said she’d find out what the procedure was – I might need to put the dates in writing. No problem, that’s fine.
Yes, can you send a letter to the Head? No problem, that’s what I did last week. Yesterday I get a letter back telling me that this holiday is not accepted and will go down as unauthorised absence. My son is 3 years old and will still be 3 years old when we go to Spain.
A mixture of emotions hit me during the day, I’d still not been feeling too great which didn’t help. I was amazed, and had to re-read the letter. He is 3 years old, he is in part-time Nursery School, he does not legally even need to be there. He is not 5 years old. Then I was angry, this is bloody madness. Then I started laughing, they can’t be serious about this. Go ahead and fine me (not that this has actually been mentioned) – it won’t be more than the £500.00 will it! Then I thought, all this fuss, why did I ever move him from his old pre-school.
I drafted a letter of response. I tried not to be rude, it was quite hard. It’s just madness – he is 3 years old. Yes, I can just ignore the letter, Yes, we will still go to Spain. But it’s still madness!!!!!
Now after a number of Facebook discussions both with friends and my blogging buddies I find out that it’s not actually the School being complete stupid, it’s the County Council, under instruction from the Government. So I’m guessing I’m not the only parent of a 3-year-old that think’s this is holiday madness.
Now perhaps someone in the Government can explain to me why they feel the need to tell me that my 3 year son cannot have 4 days out of Nursery School without it being ‘unauthorised’ when he doesn’t need to legally be there in the first place. What is better? That I lie and not tell the school, and then ring in with an unexplained illness?
Today, I’m still bemused by the whole idea of this situation. I also know Eileen at ET Speaks from Home has been told her trip to a family wedding in Singapore with her two children next year will also be classed as unauthorised. She is obviously not happy either, but at least her children are at school properly, not at Nursery School.
Know I fully understand that truancy levels need to be kept in check and that we, as a nation have to be deterred from taking our kids out of school as and when we like. What a wonderful idea it would be if travel companies and flight operators didn’t massively increase prices as soon as school holiday comes into the equation – something that has been shouted from the rooftops for as long as I can remember.
Saying that, my parents never took either of us out of school ever, and we never had a foreign holiday with them. The world is a smaller place than when I was a child, I accept that, and our expectations are so much higher too.
I know that there is a lot of furore from parents with children aged 5 and over on this issue. I’ve been involved in a number of discussions over the last two days. But on what planet is it remotely acceptable to ‘bucket’ those children who attend Nursery School voluntarily in the same legislation? I just cannot get my head around it.
My son has attended pre-school since he was just over 2 and half years old, and as I’ve said he is now at Nursery School. It is my decision to send him, I paid for the first 4 months at pre-school, but since then he has had his funded hours. I believe it is a good experience for him to interact with others (especially as an only child), to listen and follow instructions from other adults, to spend time away from me, but know I will always return. I firmly believe that children really benefit from attending pre-school/nursery. It’s a good thing. Until you hit this holiday madness. This is not a good thing, this serves no purpose in my humble opinion, with children of this age group. Pointless, madness. I can’t wait to tell my Dad on Skype tomorrow – just the sort of thing he loves hearing about, another good reason to be in Spain!
So please tell me your thoughts and experiences of this holiday madness.
This morning I wrote my second letter to the school, headed my son *** aged 3 years, Nursery Class – unauthorised absence. I acknowledged receipt of the refusal letter, reiterated again that he is 3 years old, that legally he does not need to be in school at all, that I would be ignoring them and taking my son to visit his grandparents. I also said that we would be making a holiday book so he could show his classmates the differences between Spain and England – educational for all concerned. I dropped it in to the office before I picked him up.
20 minutes later the Head called me. Profuse apologies, of course your son can go on holiday, of course he should see his family, of course he is only 3. I get the feeling that perhaps someone hadn’t actually read my initial letter properly, presumed he was in full-time school (the letter clearly stated he was in Nursery) and just sent me the ‘standard’ letter. Anyway, common sense has won the day, we have an approved absence. 🙂