Remembering that my position was that of headteacher, it might be a surprise that I’d take a different position to my colleagues on this:
Thing is, with my parent’s hat on, it’s damned difficult for parents to combine enough to have both him and her, plus the children, away at the same time and school holidays are the most dire time of all to take them.
Being in the independent sector way back when, we had a certain flexibility and one of the things you always wanted to do was accommodate parents as much as was humanly possible – after all, they were paying my salary.
A typical situation may have been, say, a father approaching me and setting out their situation. Fine, will the daughter make up what she’s missed by doing a little extra homework in the weeks following the return?
But the critical thing, the thing vigorously underscored, was the attitude of cooperation on it, neither party laying down the law and threatening the other. I can’t recall one time – and I mean that – where the parent himself did not come in saying the child would make up what was needed.
They never fully did, it was the principle of the thing.
For my part, I always said at our staff meetings that we needed to accept the child will not get 100% of the programme, that programmes set by major publishing houses were unrealistic anyway, especially on staff, so a reasonable percentage of it, maybe 85% over the year, would be fine.
That’s different to parents taking the amber fluid and I’ll say again, possibly because we were independent, that I don’t recall one incident where this happened, where the parent was unreasonable. Thus, because of results, plus this attitude, we tended to hold our numbers.
So this sort of thing about fines in the public sector – I just shake my head sadly.