Are we unnecessarily alienating parents?
Having just received a penalty notice for taking my children away during term time I am left to ponder the whole ridiculousness of the situation as it stands: there have been numerous articles about a whole cross section of people having been fined under the all illusive all-inclusive S444 of the Education Act 1996: on one extreme are the people with cancer taking their children on a family break away from it all, grieving parents finding it hard to survive let alone get their children to attend school regularly through it all, and far less dramatic: the holiday away allowing ones children with otherwise impeccable attendance records an experience of a lifetime, or simply a family placing importance on a family holiday, no one seems to be safe and above it all looms the joy of the ‘postcode lottery’, tough if you live in the wrong place, you will be fined regardless… how many more stories do we have to read before anybody takes notice? Isn’t it time we saw some change?
This is no laughing matter: After all, I received, it states, a ‘legal document’ and am accused of a criminal offence or at least I will be if I’m not quick enough to pay up. But fear not, the penalty notice process is, I have been told, ‘an offer to parents to discharge any potential liability for a possible offence’. How kind of them to offer this! Posh words, of these there are many, oh and threats, so many threats that in the end, 21 days into the matter in fact, one cannot help but concede and pay the fine! Have no doubt, it’s all about the money, to use that well known movie quote ‘Show Me The Money’, for nobody really seems to be interested in my children’s welfare: no call to assist them to catch up or offer them extra support after we, the totally irresponsible parents have made them absent and deprived them of crucial days at school. No, paying up seems to magically cure that neglect as well!