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It may be legal, but… 6 September 2013

Posted by Dr Moose in Grumbles, Life, Ponderings, School.
Tags: , ,

In common with countless 11 year-olds around the country my elder daughter, LM, started secondary school this week. It’s both an exciting and a frightening time, full of questions and worries as the child enters that stage of not quite-adulthood. What if nobody likes me? What if I get lost? Will someone pick on me? What are the teachers going to be like? LM is good at worrying, and doesn’t “do” change – even the rebuilding of our local supermarket caused an outburst of grief and worry! So to go to a school that only one of her former schoolmates will be attending (even if they are not particularly ‘tight’) is scary… especially as M didn’t show up yesterday.

Of course it’s possible that M was ill, but experience suggests otherwise, no matter how cynical and lacking in generosity that sounds. M is one of a considerable number of children in town who hail from a large Eastern European country, and we as a family know for certain how common it is for them to be taken back to the mother country to see grandparents and wider family with no regard whatsoever for the niceties of school, in some cases returning a fortnight after school has actualy started, and leaving the week before a term ends. At best, it’s an irresponsible way of doing things, and if my memory serves me aright it may soon be illegal.

However, I am not a xenophobic Little Englander. The presence of so many foreign nationals is legal, (just as I have the legal right to work anywhere else in the Eurpoean Union, should I so wish) and in many ways desireable, whether that’s manifested in economic benefits (like being able to find a plumber!) or social ones (such as imparting a greater awareness of the diversity of the wider world).

And, it’s not only foreign nationals who display this behaviour. There are plenty of native British families who are more than willing treat school as optional. Therefore I was saddened and not a little angered by a piece of post that fell on my mat yesterday morning from a large, reputable British holiday firm, who proudly proclaim themselves as providing Britain’s Favourite Seaside Holiday. “Have fun at the seaside this September” the glossy card invited, offering midweek breaks from only £100 “for the whole family”, and displaying several pictures of smiling happy families, just no reinforce the point.

Of course, from their point of view it’s just business. The fact they have spare capacity means they are able to offer space at a bargain rate. I’m sure if they were challenged about it they would reply that it was perfectly legal, and that is true. But is it moral? No. Is it acceptable? I would say that it is not, but I doubt that any legal body with any teeth would agree with me. Instead it’s just one of those things where legality trumps morality and concern for business and the freedom of the indivdual trumps the Common Good. Which leaves me in danger of sounding terribly left wing!

Nevertheless, such advertising, along with all that for online betting that litters our satellite TV channels, could be something we are better off without… and, of course, would be far easier to achieve than addressing issues of fair pay and resonably-priced holidays, that perhaps are at the root of it all…



1. Jane Williams - 6 September 2013

Today is the 6th. Most of last week fell in September, and was not in term time. That might have been what they meant?

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