Skills Rethink director Shagufta Nasreen queries school holiday schedules


- Credit: Archant

Happy Easter holiday to all. The school half terms have started, and most parents are stuck with a choice to go away or to stay local due to the inflated holiday costs.

Parents like myself from migrant families face an even harder choice when it comes to going away. In Newham most of our residents belong to the diaspora families, which means they have their parents and close relatives in other parts of the world and they don’t get to see them for years.

Two weeks are not even near enough to travel as we cannot visit our families that live in different parts of Pakistan, in such a short time. We often go to meet our old or dying family members or for a slot of weddings that our loving relatives withhold to combine them with our visits.

My own last few visits were a mix of tragedy and joy, a few years back, I took my children to see their paternal grandfather who was diagnosed with cancer, sadly he passed away before we got to the village from Islamabad. The next journey was even more difficult for me, when my beloved mother passed away while I was in a plane to Pakistan, and I still regret the delay. Thankfully the last two visits were for my nephews weddings that we all enjoyed thoroughly.

Parents are not careless towards our children’s education but we know how important it is for them to know blood relations, and it has an educational value too.

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However, schools are even refusing to accept sick certificates from some of our countries as if our children are never sick in the UK? It is also horrible to think that institutions such as schools are turned into factories to label caring parents as criminals and to issue fines.

Parents are not asking for months of time off but requesting authorities re-look at the age old school half term system. If we have a week less from summer holidays and a day less in other school half terms to have a four weeks Easter/spring break, it will suit most of the families, and in turn will improve the attendance rate in Newham schools too. More from Shagufta

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