Promoted by David Beale, 36 Pleasant View, Withnell, Chorley PR6 8SE on behalf of Martin Powell-Davies of TUSC.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Holidays - don't divide parents and teachers

Today's strike has been well supported by teachers, other public sector workers and the public as a whole - as even the Daily Telegraph's supportive poll results showed. 

The fact that Cameron has attacked the strikes is clear proof that the action IS having an impact! It was also telling that even the BBC News this evening commented about plans for further co-ordinated action in September.

However, listening to the radio discussions as I travelled between picket lines this morning, I noted that one issue was consistently being discussed in an attempt to divide parents from teachers -  the threat of fining parents when workers take a family holiday in term time. 

The NUT needs to make crystal clear that it is not teachers who want to impose these fines but school managements under direct pressure from the Government - the same Government that is attacking teachers and support staff too. Instead of being divided, staff and parents have to unite together to oppose Government attacks.

I have reposted below part of a post from my report of the NUT National Executive in May which took up this very issue:

"A short but important discussion took place on the Salaries Committee in response to a letter from the RMT pointing out the difficulties facing rostered and shift workers in taking family holidays when their leave might only be made available to them during term time. This is a problem also facing many other working families and, as was raised in discussion, similar pressures also face migrant families as well.

In the past, many schools would have taken a more relaxed attitude to requests to take children out of school for holidays or overseas visits. Now, with schools under immense pressure to achieve both ever-improving exam results and attendance rates, more Heads are refusing to authorise absence requests with, under new legislation, some parents facing fines as a result.

This draconian approach amounts to discrimination against working-class families who are unable to choose the timing of their annual leave - and ignores the benefits of families being able to have such a break together. As the actual government guidance says, head teachers will want to consider "the frequency of the request; whether the parent gave advance notice; and the pupil's attainment (sic), attendance and ability to catch up on missed schooling". 

Surely it would be better for parents and schools to come up with suitable arrangements for students to try and catch up on missed schooling rather than to threaten fines and unreasonably refuse holidays?

Above all, the NUT needs to make clear to the RMT, other trade unions and parents, that we do not back a draconian approach being taken towards holidays - and that we will not allow the issue to become a way that Government legislation can be used to divide parents from teachers". 

Original post on May 22:


Anonymous said...

I understand the above, but it doesn't take away the fact that I have a criminal record for depriving my children of a education and when the teachers do the same that there is no consequence, maybe the unions should help support our fight.

Martin said...

The fact that this post has received hundreds of views in just a few hours indeed shows that this is an issue that unions have to speak up on. If my original post wasn't clear then, yes, I think we should be opposing criminalisation of parents who just want to take time off work with their families. I may get teachers' holidays myself but my partner now does shift work and I know how hard it can be to get holidays booked when both of us can be off together with our kids for a family break.