Term Time Crime

It recently hit headlines that a woman named Jackie Turner has been summoned to court for taking her nine year old daughter on a three week backpacking trip during school term time. This story seems to have become central to the debate on whether taking a child out of school for a holiday is acceptable and whether authorities are too severe on parents who choose to do so.
The newspapers have printed that, if convicted, Jackie will be forced to pay up to £2,500 in fines and, controversially, will spend a possible three months in jail. I’m a firm believer that education is important and can appreciate that three weeks is a long time to be away from school, however, even I think that Jackie’s punishment is excessive. The fact that you can be fined for taking your child out of school during term time seems to be general knowledge now so I can only assume that Jackie knew being fined was a possibility but decided to take the risk regardless. If this is the case then I can completely understand why she was fined and, despite it being a large sum of money that she will have to pay, I struggle to sympathise with her. However, the part of Jackie’s possible sentence that I just cannot get my head around is the jail time she may face.
Jackie is essentially being punished for taking her daughter out of school because the government believe this will be detrimental to her daughter and her daughter’s education. Jackie is being punished for doing something that the government would argue goes against her child’s best interests. So, in order to punish Jackie and prevent any further damage being done to her daughter, they send Jackie to prison for three months. I need someone to explain to me the logic behind this because, quite frankly, I don’t get it. Surely, for a child, having to spend three months away from your mother because she has been imprisoned is much more damaging than spending three weeks away from school? It seems that the government has become so preoccupied with making an example out of Jackie Turner that they have forgotten what their priority needs to be. They seem to be more concerned about severely punishing Jackie in order to deter others from behaving in the same way than for her child’s welfare. This seems both illogical and hypocritical.
The possible consequences of Jackie’s actions have left hundreds of people, particularly those with children of their own, absolutely outraged and quite rightly so. However, the public’s ensuing anger seems to be misdirected towards schools. Many people seem to be blaming not just the teaching staff at the school Jackie’s daughter attends but schools all over the country. I have written this to try and make one thing clear. The school that Jackie’s daughter attends is not responsible for the sentence that Jackie is facing. The teachers who work there have simply done their job and enforced rules which were created by the government. The term ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ springs to mind right now. The school does not create the rules regarding children’s education, the government do. The school does not dish out the punishments to parents who break said rules, the government do. The school did not sentence Jackie, the government did. The school will not receive the fine that Jackie will be ordered to pay. I’ll give you one guess as to who will.


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