1. Term-Time Holiday Taking. Today the High Court ruled in favour of a father who refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter on an unauthorised term-time holiday.
1.1. Jon Platt’s “victory” will be welcome news for those concerned about what has been called the “Gove Effect”; the apparent reduction in family holiday taking in some popular UK destination areas, which followed the effective removal of head teacher’s discretion on in term holiday taking within England and Wales. In Wales the Welsh Government subsequently issued guidance (January 2016?) making it clear that a blanket ban was not the intent. In any case its where the pupil and families holiday, not where they are educated that drives any tourism impact, making England’s policies and England’s significantly larger school aged population a potential issue for all the home nations.
1.2. As ever there are a complex, sometimes contradictory set of issues in play. Mr Platt’s argument seems to be more about accepting a fine and thus by default accepting that taking a child out of school is a criminal act, which he refutes. The media seem to favour the populist view that it’s all about the relative cost of holidaying in and out of school term-time and/or the more extreme view that the tourism industry is “ripping off customer in high season” or the law of supply and demand as some would prefer to call it.
1.3. The Westminster Government and the Education Department seem to believe it is all about avoiding damage to children’s educational prospects by removing them unnecessarily from school. Meanwhile many in the industry feel it should be much more about recognizing that modern family circumstances are increasingly complicated, increasingly families are facing differing term times for siblings in adjacent schools, one or more working parents may face having their own holiday date restrictions to contend with and of course there is the internal tourism industry issue of owner and staff high season holiday restrictions for those working in the industry itself.
1.4. For the time being at least today’s finding makes Local Council’s in England’s position on when and how to fine whom in what circumstance far less certain. What it doesn’t do however is close the issue because the Isle of Wight Council can still appeal and/or Government in England could now either clarify or change the direction or the relevant legislation in order to achieve their objective which appears to remain to reduce in term absence for anything other than exceptional circumstances.
1.5. What it potentially does do is give another platform to argue the case again (if you agree with it) for a return to genuine discretion based on the merits of the individual case. I tend to think cases that have merit are likely to involve a number of circumstances that combined would preclude a family taking a significant family holiday at any other time in any given calendar year; cost of course might be included as a consideration but should seldom if ever be the defining circumstance, but that’s just my view.
2. More funds allocated by DCLG. Department for Communities and Local Government have announced the 15 recipients in England of an additional £700k funding made available under the previous £3m Coastal Revival Fund, awards for which were announced in December 2015: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/scenic-sight-restorations-set-to-boost-great-british-coast-staycations
2.2. The tone and the focus on the value of tourism in this DCLG release is in itself notable. Hopefully this bodes well for the emphasis placed on tourism and the visitor economy that will be placed on the next round of the Coastal Communities Fund, more detail of which are being released next week in England in early June in Scotland and at dates to confirmed in late May in Wales and Northern Ireland: https://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/global-content/programmes/uk-wide/coastal-communities.
3. UK Bathing Season. The UK bathing season starts on Sunday 15 May; it wouldn’t be unusual for this event to be marked by some popular press coverage and sadly often with a more negative twist to it than the vast majority of the bathing water results deserve.
4. Discover England Fund and other Nation Board’s activities. Although already announced by us earlier in the week it would be remiss not to mention the VisitBritain and VisitEngland launch of the first round criteria for the Discover England Fund: https://www.visitbritain.org/guidance-and-criteria-applicants.
4.1. It would also be remiss not to mention Visit Wales and the recently launched year of adventure campaign including the frankly stunning TV campaign and other supporting materials aimed principally at their major market, the UK: http://www.visitwales.com/adventure/tv-advert-2016.
4.3. And finally next week VisitBritain and VisitEngland will launch their Holidays at Home campaign, a UK domestic campaign promoting UK wide domestic product: https://www.visitbritain.org/new-campaign-highlights-great-britain-northern-ireland-home-amazing-moments-encourage-brits-holiday