Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Newspaper column 12 April 2017 - School attendance rules

This week I wanted to focus on the outcome of the Supreme Court case last week in which the Judges ruled in favour of the Government against a father from the Isle of Wight, Jon Platt, taking his daughter on holiday during term time. The court case had arisen because of changes to school attendance rules, which stop parents taking children on holiday during term time. Mr Platt had originally won his court case but the Government took it to Supreme Court and got the previous decision overturned.

This is an area in which I have consistently disagreed with the Government. I have campaigned for the reversal of these rules including leading and participating in several debates in Parliament since my election.

Needless to say this was a very disappointing ruling for me.

My view remains that this policy is wrong. The arbitrary banning of holidays during term time is so unfair, especially to those in the tourism industry or on low income, who will otherwise not get a chance to holiday with their children during the summer months, whether due to work commitments or not being able to afford the inflated prices charged by holiday operators during the school holidays.

I do not believe it is the role of the Government to micro manage families, this should rightfully remain the primary responsibility of parents. In fact, this policy is divisive in many ways, leading to parents and teachers being set against each other rather than working together for the betterment of the children involved.

Every child is different and I believe it should be for parents and heads to decide together whether an absence is acceptable or not. This was previously the case with head teachers being given discretion to allow a certain amount of leave during term time on a case by case basis. Time spent together as families is just as important as classroom time and it is my long held belief that children spending time with their families in educational and informative settings outside of school can be just as, if not more educational and informative in terms of life experiences than time spent in the class room.

I am pleased that in Cornwall though, Cornwall Council has taken a sensible approach, informed by the numbers of parents and children adversely affected by these rules, and fined far fewer people than the national average.

This is not the end of the matter for me and I am considering what steps I can now take to continue the campaign to get this policy changed. The fight goes on and I will continue to work both locally and in Westminster to highlight this issue and how unfair it is to people both here in Mid-Cornwall and around the country.

As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: