Discretionary holidays during school term?
Should children be granted a discretionary holiday week during school term time?
There’s an interesting, ongoing debate about the number of parents who are being fined for taking their children out of school during term time because they say they cannot afford to travel during the school holidays due to the high prices.
Consumers believe that the tour operators are ‘profiteering’ at their expense, which is true of course to some extent, but only because that’s pretty much the only time of year tour operators can actually make a healthy margin. Other times of the year are often sold at a significant loss - a simple matter of supply and demand.
With the UK government banning families from taking their children out of school for the sake of a holiday, this has just polarised the problem. Instead of pressuring tour operators to lower margins, we should perhaps be taking a step back, and asking ourselves whether or not we value the experience of travelling as a source of education. If we could bring the education sector and the travel industry together in some way so that schools buy into the idea of travelling as part of a child’s enrichment, then both parties would be better off.
Surely one discretionary week per year allowed for each child by the government would mean that a) the holiday traffic is more spread out and therefore margins can be spread more evenly across the seasons, and b) more families could afford more holidays, which can only benefit the children.
The discretionary week could be tied in to an obligatory homework programme in which children have to answer a number of questions and present a report about their holiday to their classmates when they get back. Encouraging them to learn a few local words (if travelling overseas), catalogue different local foods, investigate local history, visit sites and attractions and put together a diary or log book, would surely engage children more in their destination, benefit the other children in their class when they return, and enable the travel industry to iron out some of the peaks and troughs in pricing structures! This in turn would stimulate more travel, both overseas and domestically, and therefore return more taxes into the government coffers.
Come on UK government – get creative!!
We should value the experience of travelling as a source of education