These statistics INFURIATE me.
First of all, who says that it's short breaks that do this 'damage'? They don't take into account why the children are absent - it could be illness, it could be bereavement, it could be to attend a family wedding, it could be to travel, it could be a chaotic home......who knows?
Secondly, I was taken out of school in the run up to my Year 6 SATs AND for a whole 17 days in the run up to my GCSEs. Guess what - I still achieved 10 x Grade A's and 4 x Grade A*. It CLEARLY didn't do me any harm and I am living proof that this 'research' doesn't apply to everyone. I took work with me and was sensible enough to catch up. Statistics really don't show the full picture - if your children are supported I firmly agree they won't lose out.
Travel IS one of the biggest educational tools out there. Do you think a child is more likely to remember reading about the Pyramids in a classroom or actually walking amongst them and seeing them with their own eyes? It's really not rocket science.
We are travelling to Spain later this month and my three children will be exposed to sites and learn through experience. They will travel through the channel tunnel and plot our route through France and Spain on their maps, they will see the Eiffel Tower for the first time, they will soak up Spanish culture and cuisine and mix with people of all nationalities in a way they just don't get to experience at home. Sitting in a classroom just doesn't come close to actually experiencing life first hand.
My children are often praised by their teachers for their knowledge, their extensive vocabulary and creativity. Most of this is due to how much we have travelled with our children (at home and abroad) and because of how much we've talked to our children and created conversations about what we are experiencing.
Yes, I know we could take them on holiday out of term time however a lot of people will be in the same boat as me and just can't afford it, especially when you are a larger family. Our family holiday would have been 3.5 times more expensive if we'd travelled in the school holidays.
I could also just not go on holiday but to me travel is a priority and it's a compromise I'm not willing to make.
I'm not saying we should take our children out of school for a fortnight during their GCSE's but what I am saying is that we should have a broader and more holistic approach to travel and education.
For me, I am happy taking my children out of school every 2-3 years for around 5 days to enjoy our family holiday until they are in year 8 (then it will be UK camping in the school holidays for a few years). I know in my heart of hearts that their education will not be affected by this and they will actually benefit from seeing some of the world. If I have the opportunity to show them life beyond Northumberland and the UK - I'm going to take it.
Finally I would like to end by saying that I am my children's parent. I know what's best for them and should be able to decide this. I DO NOT subscribe to the idea of living in some sort of nanny state where the Government dictate to us when we can take our own children on holiday.
You might like this article from Mini Travellers - remember, school fines do still need to be taken into consideration.
What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.