I thank the Minister for that intervention. Of course I agree with him that we value compulsory education in this country and that it has a very important part to play. However, compulsory education does not happen only in the classroom—it does not mean that children should be stopped from taking a family holiday, which, I would argue, has an equally important role in their upbringing.
One parent who was fined for taking his child to a sporting world championship that a family member was competing in wrote these words to me:
“The notion that a state official can criminally enforce their perspective on which family members are important to a child is very disturbing coming from a democratic government…By focusing on what is an ‘exceptional circumstance’, and trying to eliminate cheap holidays, the law has sent schools down the path of criminally enforcing ethics, family values, the intimate details of children’s lives and relationships, without any qualifications or regard for academics, the wellbeing of the child, or the integrity and dignity of the family structure.”