United Kingdom

Fines Don't Stop Parents From Putting Family Ahead of School—And Good For Them



Club Med, of all places, surveyed British parents to find out if they would take their kids out of school for a vacation in defiance of laws that levy pretty stiff fines on families that do just that. Almost half of respondents said damned straight, some time with the family come before staring at the chalkboard. That's a nice reaffirmation of healthy priorities, despite penalties that have cost some parents the equivalent of a thousand dollars.

From a Club Med press release:

Nearly half of parents (48%) would take their children out of school to go skiing if it was cheaper, Club Med can reveal from their official Ski Report-Skiing Together, Winter Sport Holidays for Families, released today.

Despite the threat of fines from local authorities, British families are keener than ever to take children out of school to avoid the most expensive travelling weeks.

The findings from Club Med show that school isn't always the most important priority, but half of parents (48%) are inspired to go skiing to challengetheir children to learn new skills.Over 40% of parents choose skiing because it encourages them to bond as a family, whilst over a quarter choose skiing for the physical benefits–showing that children's best interests are in mind even if it means skipping the national curriculum.

Under the provisions of the Education Act of 1996, parents have to ask school officials' permission to remove their kids from class outside a narrow range of circumstances. Earlier this year, the Sutherland family, from Trench, Telford, was slapped with a £630 ($1,053) penalty for taking the wee ones to Greece for a week without permission while school was in session.

Stewart Sutherland, who chose a foreign country, ancient culture, and the cradle of western civilization over hours in a classroom, understandably said officials "don't live in the real world."

I didn't take my son skiiing or to Greece, last week, but I did pull him out of school for two days so he could feed a tiger at a safari park and tour Sinagua Indian ruins with his grandparents. Fortunately, I didn't need permission to give him a little enriching family time.

It sounds as if a lot of British families might make the same wise choice, even if they break a few rules along the way.

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  1. Wow. The gummint schools have first dibs on your kids. Cool.

    Thus reaffirming that – as fucked up as the US is – Britain is even more so.

    1. “Thus reaffirming that – as fucked up as the US is – Britain is even more so.”

      “The USA! At Least We’re Not England!”

  2. Does Britain have leash laws for kids?

    1. Do ASBOs count?

    2. Putting your kid on a leash while walking on the beach should be a five year prison sentence.

  3. It amazes me how often parents say they can’t do something with their kid because it is a school night.

    Yes, whatever the fuck your kid may do in school the next day is way more important than doing something with you that they will remember years from now.

    1. What about when school nights correspond with work nights?

      “Listen, son. I love chasing escaped orphans as much as the next guy, but I gotta work tomorrow. You and your friends will just have to take the truck and the taser by yourselves tonight.”

    2. “It amazes me how often parents soccer moms say they can’t do something with their kid because it is a school night.”

      Let’s keep the blame where it belongs. I’ve never heard a father utter this statement, unless he was under duress.

      1. Wait, if they’re soccer moms, doesn’t that mean they take their kids to play soccer?

  4. As Jesse and Playa know, Manhattan Beach had to add a week of vacation in February into the school calendar called “Ski Week” in February because parents were taking their kids out of school anyway and costing the school district money (in California, school districts receive funds directly from Sacramento based in part on attendance).

    1. Yep. It really fucked up my week. I got almost no work done.

      They do the same thing for Thanksgiving now too, because everybody was taking Mon-Wed off.

      1. I went to manhattan meats the other day and bought a top sirloin, the best I’ve ever had by far, they aren’t lying when they say that buying your meet from a refrigerator at Ralph’s and buying from a local butcher make a huge difference.

        1. Their pre-marinated spicy garlic chicken breast is the best I’ve ever had. I usually prefer rotisserie dark meat, but their breast is outstanding after about 30 minutes on the grill.

          Also, their beef teriyaki hibachi sticks are delicious I think they are still $1 each, and they make their own hibachi sauce (also for sale).

          I still get my braising meats at Ralph’s, cuz it doesn’t really matter when you’re braising.

  5. Just tell the school that you are taking your kid on a nationwide protest supporting Obama, teachers union and increased spending on public schools. I bet you don’t get fined. If its in Wisconsin they probably can provide a doctor who will give out a note saying the kid is sick.

  6. so he could feed a tiger at a safari park

    Making enormous kitty friends is way more important than showing up at school. Good work, JD.

    1. +1 good dad.

      I pulled my kid out of school to watch the space shuttle land at LAX. Then it flew directly over his school right after I picked him up.

      1. To quote BL, senior in 1991. “Fuck school, we’ve got a chance to go to China for two weeks.”

        I’m not sure those are his exact words, but it would have been fun to see someone try to give him shit about it. I also missed the first day of school another year to meet then governor GWB. China was better.

        1. I feel the same way about the Canadian Grand Prix.

          It’s often scheduled around the last full week of school, but the wife-unit claims The Boy can’t miss all the very important events of the last week of school.

  7. We pulled our kid out of first grade to go skiing in Italy for a week, couple weeks back. Teacher was pretty pissy about that, going over his homework he was going to be missing. Fortunately there’s no fines or anything, though.

    1. As if you couldn’t help him learn how to spell for a few weeks until you got back….

      1. Well we live in the Czech Republic so he doesn’t have to learn how to spell, in Czech at least.

        1. so he doesn’t have to learn how to spell, in Czech at least.

          Is this related to their notorious vowel shortage?

    2. “Look, I appreciate your position, but this is me giving a fuck.”

      **demonstrates ‘give a fuck’ face

      “This is me now. ”

      **back to regular face**

      “See the difference?”

      I presume that the above is why my wife has prohibited me from having any interactions with my son’s future teachers without her present.

      1. My wife is doing most of the interaction with the teachers also for similar reasons, plus the whole language thing. She’s a trooper.

      2. My wife is the instigator. She absolutely hates my kid’s teacher, right down to the hairstyle and clothes.

      3. I got in trouble once for writing “Because” on the sign out sheet for my kid.

        1. Now we know “BFYTW” is the way to go.

  8. Under the provisions of the Education Act of 1996, parents have to ask school officials’ permission to remove their kids from class outside a narrow range of circumstances.

    Offence: failure to secure regular attendance at school of registered pupil.

    A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1A) is liable on summary conviction?
    (a)to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale, or
    (b)to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months,
    or both.

    I’m sure that regular attendance is defined elsewhere (where it would eliminate opportunities for family vacations), but the idea of being tossed in the clink for three months for taking the brats skiing is a lil disconcerting.

    1. So long, Britain. It was a nice run while it lasted.

      But, now you’re just a fancy concentration camp.

  9. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that kids are community property. Leaving them in school leads to tragedy of the commons.

    1. I learned from MeliTHa HarriTH Perry that kids are communal property.

  10. I took my kid out of school for a trip to Hawaii. I had never been, so yeah, the school system can kiss my ass.

    1. I did that too. Hawaii is cheaper when there isn’t an influx of families with kids on vacation.

      I didn’t ask for permission, and I didn’t feel the need to explain myself when we got back.

  11. Silly Brits, they are doing it all wrong! Just put an unopened beer in your child’s lunch box. Then it’s off to holiday!

  12. My wife and I fight about this a lot. She is from Korea and has the mindset that school is the most important thing that the kids can do.

    I on the other hand was a horrible truant. Unfortunately for me, I always did well enough in school when I was there that the school looked the other way and didn’t suspend me.

    I keep telling my wife that trips out west to hunt or trips to Korea and Japan are 1000x more educational than anything they will learn in school. She still fights me every step of the way.

  13. How many hrs. of family vacations can you remember? Now, how many hrs. of school can you remember, even though you had many more of them?

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  15. I always wondered why kids with terminal cancer attended school, for godsakes. Why don’t their parents take them out to see the world and to experience happiness, pleasure, and the warmth of a family experiencing some happy and meaningful things together?

    1. They think the kid attending school gives a sense of “normalcy”. What’s normal about an 8 year old with cancer? Does he REALLY need to know how to multiply and divide? And if he or she recovers, why not teach them at that time?

  16. First dibs, and last dibs on our children.
    It is a small step from fining parents who take their kids out of school, to taking their kids from them altogether.
    The standards of what is considered legal ‘neglect’ are becoming more arbitrary as govt figures out another way of insinuating itself into our private affairs.
    It happened to me, in America, I am sure it will happen in Britain.

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