Term-time holidays and smoking in cars – what Lib Dem members think should be allowed

lib dem conf votingLib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

48% say schools should not allow parents to take their children out of school during term time

Do you think schools should or should not allow parents to take their children out of school during term time for the purpose of taking family holidays?

    44% – Should allow parents to take children on holiday during term time

    48% – Should not allow parents to take children on holiday during term time

    8% – Don’t know

A close result, but, by a slim margin, a plurality of Lib Dem members in our survey believe schools should not allow parents to take their children out of school during term time for the purpose of taking family holidays. Here’s a sample of your comments…

• Limited to a week, with permission from the school if the child hasn’t had too many unauthorised absences.
• Parents know what’s best for their kids. Holidays often more educational than school, but should be monitored on a case by case basis.
• We have gone from being too lax to being far too strict.
• It should be allowed sometimes – education is more than just what’s learnt in the classrooms. Holidays are often a chance for cultural exchanges and are not always affordable in the school holidays.
• Definitely NOT. If parents cannot see the point of children being in school, then one wonders why they have even bothered to have children in the first place!
• But the fleecing of parents by inflated holiday prices during school holidays should be outlawed.
• with headteacher’s agreement
• Not fair on familys who cannot afford fancy holidays
• It depends on family circumstances, the school year in question etc.
• A limit of 2 weeks per year
• but only under certain circumstances
• its an economic thing… should not be more than a week. not every parent has the ability to coordinate their holidays (or afford to pay the premiums for peak periods) to suit when it suits the schools.
• I think the decision should be down to teachers and schools. One size does not fit all.
• Parents, children and teachers should not be allowed to holiday in term time. However, staggered holidays should be considered.
• The holiday companies, flight and hotel companies need to be tackled on extortionate prices rather than taking kids out of school.
• A few days’ holiday during term time does no harm. The current ban forces parents to pay inflated prices for holidays.
• All absence causes harm to their progress, going away on a holiday is not an essential.
• Reducing class sizes would be the single best thing to do for our education system, plus free school meals for all state primary schools.
• the balance of family time together cf loss of learning time is delicate….but I come out on the side of the family.
• It is important for Children to learn to travel. There should be a small allowance.
• Feel very strongly about this. Taking away the right of parents to take children out for 10 days was a “Stalinist” move in my view. The law should be restored to what it used to be.
• It’s a fallacy concocted by teachers that children’s education suffers if they have a week or two extra holiday.
• BUT, for not more than 2 weeks and not in an exam year or close to an exam.
• Damages education. need to reduce term time prices for holidays.
• Strict limits on duration. Child and parent responsible for catching up with class work.
• Holidays are too expensive , families have a right to choose when to take their children on holiday saying they cannot is a nanny state
• In general I oppose term time holidays, but I think there will always be extenuating circumstances where, for example parents are unable to get holiday time together. One particular route might be for parents to seek approval from the school’s governing body.
• For a strictly enforced 2 weeks in any year and no more.
• This is not ideal but holiday companies put prices through the roof during school breaks.
• Within reason and not every year. Why not?

61% support ban on people smoking in cars when there are children present

Do you support or oppose a ban on people smoking in cars when there are children in the car?

    61% – Support

    31% – Oppose

    8% – Don’t know

A more clear-cut result here – by a 2:1 majority Lib Dem members in our survey support the ban on people smoking in cars when there are children present. Here’s a sample of your comments…

• Smoking is stupid anyway – smoking in the vicinity of children in a closed environment is wilful neglect of said children
• Oppose smoking but not keen on the steps needed to police it
• I believe people should only be able to smoke with other consenting adults, preferably in places designated for them.
• I do not approve of banning anything. It is a pompous and officious process. People who do such a thing as smoking in private confined spaces with children or those who has respiratory problems should be prosecuted by the police if and when harm is caused.
• Not enforceable
• This is impossible to enforce. Using mobiles cannot be enforced at that is more dangerous
• It’s an appalling thing to smoke in a car with kids in it, but we should steer clear of intervening too much in personal lives
• Obviously not good to smoke around children, ask the police how they feel about upholding this law, how practical is it?
• This is unworkable and unenforceable, it’s a waste of legislative time and paper.
• This is an essential child protection measure.
• I am a smoker but hopefully a responsible one
• I am a lifelong non-smoker – but this would be completely unenforceable, not to mention an unwarranted expense and disastrous foir police pr.
• But how are cars different from homes? Children spend much more time in homes.
• There should also be a ban on smoking in a private dwelling where children are present; it is abusive because the child has no choice but to breathe in the adult’s smoke.
• It distracts drivers and so should be banned completely – as should eating or drinking whilst driving.
• I believe it is wrong to smoke with children present but we don’t need a law for everything that is wrong.
• I am against all forms of over-regulation (big brother perception of government) and prefer the concept of education/information. This is a better, cheaper and more effective approach.
• The inside of a car is private space. The dangers of smoking in an enclosed environment can be made clear. It would also probably be un enforceable.
• I don’t like it, but I don’t approve of this step. This kind of change should be carried out via cultural change, not law.
• I don’t think they should but I also am against unenforceable laws. This is in the same category as using a mobile.
• Its an unenforceable nanny state law. I would be very supportive of the NHS running s strong campaign to dissuade parents from smoking in cars though.
• Who wouldn’t? Enforcement may be difficult, but there will be convictions, and if these are suitably punished they will serve as a deterrent to others, thus protecting the kids.
• Ludicrous and unenforceable nannying
• I support an ban on smoking in cars even if there are no children on board
• But then I would support a ban on people using their cars to transport themselves or their children when there are publiic transport alternatives!
• As long as it doesn’t lead to a ban on smoking in cars full stop!
• Unenforcable
• Right but impossible to enforce -look at the so called ban on using a phone whilst driving
• I see the logic but I’m not sure where it would stop. Would we start banning people from smoking in their own homes when Children are present. I’m not a smoker, or a parent
• There is no justification for this that does not also justify the government going into people’s homes to stop smokers. If you’ve favour of that, that’s fine, but please have the honest to say so and to stop calling yourself ‘liberal’.

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 745 responded in full – and a further 87 in part – to the latest survey, which was conducted between 16th and 22nd April.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    26 Comments

    • paul barker 29th Jun '14 - 3:34pm

      Hmmm, find myself disagreeing with the majority on both counts. On holidays it would be useful to know what members feel about enforcement, do we back fines & what if Parents refuse to pay ?
      The moral case against smoking in cars with children is solid but is it worth the fall-out ? This will apply more to Ethnic Minorities/The Poor & has to be enforced by The Police we have. As Liberals we should begin from a reluctance to make anything compulsory or forbidden.

    • Paul well said my point s that

    • 61% support ban on people smoking in cars when there are children present

      Excellent news. Thank goodness all that expensive propaganda from Big Tobacco has failed with a large majority of those replying to this survey.

    • Irksome though it is to pay high prices for holidays in school holidays, it amazes me that people criticise the holiday companies for “fleecing” consumers. All the holiday companies are doing is setting their prices according to the laws of supply and demand. They’d be crazy not to.

      Staggered holidays is clearly the answer. In my local authority, primary schools have two weeks for summer half term, so when my kids were both under 12 we would go in the second week and save hundreds on high season prices every year.

    • Jonathan Pile 29th Jun '14 - 6:20pm

      I wonder what % of the 830 lib dem members are parents who have been presented with the dilemma a) take your child out of term for part of week in term time for a foreign or domestic holiday or b) have a staycation despite the fAct you haven’t green able to afford a holiday in 3 years. Let me think the 40% who agreed with the proposition ?

    • I can’t say I’ve ever actually seen someone smoking in a car with children present but I am fairly unobservant. Is there any research to indicate how prevalent this might be? Any medical evidence on the likely effects to children’s health? I’d assume the overwhelming majority of children who are exposed to second hand smoke in a car are exposed to much more in the family home. If that is right then seems to me the benefit to children’s health of this measure might very well approach zero. I would have thought efforts to address poor housing and poor nutrition would probably be more efficacious in improving children’s health. But is improving children’s health the purpose of the policy?

    • Richard Harris 29th Jun '14 - 9:33pm

      “All absence causes harm to their progress, going away on a holiday is not an essential.”
      Either that person has never been on holiday or believes that learning is so efficient a few days in the year cannot be missed. Personally I want to live in a society that values family and happy memories ABOVE a few percentage points in a SATS test. If the Chinese government banned holidays what would the party say about personal freedom for its citizens, but that is what the government is effectively allowing to happen here. And of course there is the fairness element to this…those in authority can generally afford to go on holiday in school breaks, but many cannot, and many in private education have different (and longer) holidays, as well as more foreign trips abroad during term time with the school.

    • Richard Harris 29th Jun '14 - 9:36pm

      …and (one other thing) as Liberals do you really feel it is the job of government to dictate when a family can go on holiday? Really?

    • Matthew wilson 29th Jun '14 - 10:08pm

      How is either banning holidays during term time or banning smoking in cars liberal?

    • Richard Dean 29th Jun '14 - 11:00pm

      I don’t think it’s liberal to allow parents to act selfishly contrary to the interests of their children.

      Education in todays world is the key to citizenship and success, and taking a child on holiday in the middle of term time is damaging that child’s education. Governments and others should act to prevent that kind of harm.

      Similarly, smoking in confined spaces shred by children causes harm to the children, and it is government’s and other’s duty to prevent that harm. It is certainly not liberal to encourage it.

    • Schools are becoming sausage machines in which children are worked ever harder, on ever dumber tasks, to get ever-increasing marks, at examinations of ever-declining standards, to show that everything gets better every day, because government is ever so brilliant. Every government, that is. Labour and the Coalition are equally culpable.

      Taking children on holiday during term time reduces the harm that schools do, and enables parents and children to do more to develop their own education. For primary age children at least, I’d be inclined to make that compulsory!

    • Richard Harris 30th Jun '14 - 12:44am

      @ Richard Dean
      “I don’t think it’s liberal to allow parents to act selfishly contrary to the interests of their children.”
      Perhaps, but it is certainly not Liberal for YOU to dictate to other parents what is best for their kids because of YOUR point of view. That’s what is so strange about the current LD party – it should be a party that stands up for individual freedom to choose.
      …and I’d be surprised if most people thought that taking a holiday in term time with the children is a selfish in any way whatsoever.

    • Richard Harris 30th Jun '14 - 1:00am

      I’ve a friend whose child goes to a private school. His child went on a week long skiing trip in the winter with the school. Would someone please explain to me whether that is OK, and whether it would be OK for a child in a state school to go on a skiing holiday for a week during term time with the family as the school could not provide one?

    • Richard Dean 30th Jun '14 - 2:20am

      @David Allen, Richard Harris
      I’m as astonished at your remarks as you are at mine. But I guess I’m beginning to learn that some people equate liberalism with selfishness and self-focus. I’m not one of those people. School is not a place that does harm to children. It’s not a sausage machine. If that’s what school did to a particular person, it should possibly be investigated. But I’ve seen pupils do the harm to themselves, by making poor choices that don’t get picked up and corrected. The school gets blamed when the child finds out the choices were bad ones.

      If a school itself organizes a trip, that would be different, for the simple reason that it would then be properly integrated into the sequence of learning activities. By contrast, if the parent takes a child away from school for a couple of weeks, the child falls behind by a couple of weeks, which is a different thing altogether.

      It’s recoverable, of course, by hard work, so an alternative would be to charge the parents fees for the extra work that teachers would need to put in to get the child back up to the place where the rest of the class have reached. Maybe part of the fees could be paid to the other children, as compensation for the delay in their own learning while the teacher does this.

    • Richard Harris 30th Jun '14 - 7:22am

      @Richard Dean
      “I’m as astonished at your remarks as you are at mine. But I guess I’m beginning to learn that some people equate liberalism with selfishness and self-focus. I’m not one of those people. School is not a place that does harm to children”
      I never said school was bad for children, so please don’t associate me with that view.

      “If a school itself organizes a trip, that would be different, for the simple reason that it would then be properly integrated into the sequence of learning activities.” As would a family holiday in which the parents worked with the school in a constructive to catch up on their return. But it doesn’t happen now because those families are forced to travel without the agreement of the school.

      “an alternative would be to charge the parents fees”
      Oh, so it’s a problem, but not for wealthy parents that can afford the charges?

      “Maybe part of the fees could be paid to the other children, as compensation for the delay in their own learning while the teacher does this”
      …I think you are seriously over complicating the issue.

      I hope you had really great family holidays as a child and that they are now really fond memories. I hope that you can also speak a foreign language and appreciate foreign cultures, both aspects of holidays my children have benefited from. The idea that a holiday abroad is not educational (shock horror, might even lead to more learning than a child would experience in a normal week at school!) is laughable. You are effectively denying the right of many children to travel abroad, which is certainly not a liberal approach to the problem. Yes, you CAN have a good family holiday in the UK, even when the weather is bad (although even holidays in the UK are crushingly expensive in August) but nobody can argue their isn’t an added experience to going abroad.

    • Richard Dean,

      “School is not a place that does harm to children.”

      That’s an extremely dogmatic statement, on a par with “Our police / army / health service etc do not do harm.”

      I exaggerated for effect, of course. Schools are necessary and do good things. However, the authoritarian trend is to force children into ever longer and dumber periods of compulsory hack-work – soon to start at age 2 it seems, commonly to run from breakfast until the early evening these days, with increasing levels of homework after that, and formal exams now every year from GCSE onwards. It is stultifying children, it is turning them into learning machines who cannot think for themselves. The universities are nowadays faced with the “best-qualified” and the least capable cohorts of students they have ever seen. Liberals should give children back some freedom.

    • Richard Dean 30th Jun '14 - 11:47am

      @David Allen, Richard Harris
      I am happy that common sense is beginning to poke through the clouds.

    • Barmy. One week on a very occasional basis, especially at primary school age, is absolutely no harm at all.

      I’m a bit stunned that would even be controversial.

    • Richard Dean 30th Jun '14 - 12:11pm

      @Stewart
      Do you have any evidence for your claim that it “does no harm at all”?

    • @Richard Dean 30th Jun ’14 – 2:20am
      “If a school itself organizes a trip, that would be different, for the simple reason that it would then be properly integrated into the sequence of learning activities,”

      Sorry Richard, that isn’t always the case, although that does depend upon your interpretation of “Learning activities”… My children (both attend a state school) have this year (ie. since Jan 2014) been on school trips to: Harry Potter World, The Christmas panto at a regional theatre, Cadbury’s World, and will be going on an outward bound residential shortly, were they get to play on the beach, go on a tree walk and sit around a camp fire… Whilst I have funded these trips because they do have social value I am a little aggrieved that these trips haven’t been linked into their curriculum unlike other trips this academic year: such as to the National War Museum, Mount Fitchet Castle and The Workhouse, which have.

      With the elder one moving on to secondary school, we will be facing the holiday dilemma head on as whilst one will remain on the traditional three term system, the other will change to a five term system. The only time they are both off together in the coming academic year are: the first two weeks of August and the week of Christmas to New Year.

    • Tsar Nicholas 30th Jun '14 - 2:41pm

      I am amazed at some posters’ contention that going on holiday with the family is a ‘selfish’ action.

      Why not just abolish parents and bring up children in North Korea-style barracks?

    • Richard Dean 30th Jun '14 - 3:03pm

      @Tsar Nicholas
      Your amazement is because you have missed the point. Taking a child out of school so that the parents can go on holiday is, of course, a selfish action on the part of the parents.

    • Given that you don’t have to send your children to school anyway, banning a two-week absence for a family holiday seems rather unnecessary. And if we’re worried that time off will damage their education, we should also ban measles, car accidents and teachers’ strikes.

    • Richard Dean 30th Jun '14 - 5:15pm

      @Sid Cumberland
      Continuity is the key thing you’re missing here. Individually breaking the continuity of a school term can be disruptive. Not only to the child who misses classes, but also to the school which then needs to find a way to repair the loss, and to other pupils who may need to be held back while teacher brings the holiday-maker back up to speed.

    • @Richard Dean
      As an ex-headteacher, my experience does not chime with yours. Does your discontinuity not apply to childhood illnesses, accidents and other unavoidable absences? In any case, the ‘holiday maker’ you refer to may have learnt many things during their absence, and their family may have become a better functioning unit which will help the child through their school career.

    • Richard Dean 30th Jun '14 - 8:11pm

      @Sid Cumberland
      Yes it does. And fewer absences are better than more absences. Of course, if parents are willing to pay extra fees to teachers for the extra tuition that will be required to recover from an avoidable absence, and if teachers are willing to be paid extra to take in this burden, then fine. But as an ex-headteacher, you will likely know that teachers generally work very hard already, and that it is probably better not to cause additional disruption.

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