Give inflexible attitude to absence a day off

9th February 1996 at 00:00
I read the article "Absence makes the head irate" (TES, January 26) with interest.

When I was a young teacher one of my charges requested the head's permission to attend a World Cup football match. I thought he should be in school. The head wrote a note saying that there was no problem and very much hoping he would enjoy the experience. When the boy returned he gave an excellent presentation about the event to the class, and I certainly learnt an important lesson.

It is tiresome when children miss critical input, but holidays are at their most expensive during school holidays. Parents may have little or no choice about when they can take time off and, as Denise Bates acknowledges, there is a need for absence management strategies to be realistic and understanding.

However, I found her bullet points at the end disturbing. Phrases like "take a firm line", "whether families should be rigorously questioned", "times when the school will refuse absence" are hardly helpful.

Learning occurs in many situations, including during family holidays. Are we so certain that spending the two weeks in school is more valuable or essential?

We need as educators to be far more flexible and supportive of families. Being realistic involves acknowledging the total context, not treating parents as tiresome children.

LINNCA GLYNNE-RULE Senior lecturer in continuing professional development Cornwall Education Centre The College of St Mark St John Foundation Church Road, Pool Redruth, Cornwall

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