Marshfield mum leads the fight over government school legislation changes
A MUM from Marshfield is playing a leading part in a national protest to overturn new legislation on school holidays.
Karen Wilkinson has spent months protesting over the government’s amendments to the 2006 Education Regulations, which came into force on September 1.
The new rules do not allow any child to be absent from school unless under exceptional circumstances whereas previously parents had been able to apply for up to 10 years authorised absences for family holidays or occasions.
Mrs Wilkinson, who has one child at Marshfield Primary School and two children at Hardenhuish School in Wiltshire, believes the changes are a move closer to a nanny state where parental decisions are given less and less importance.
“This is about parents having a voice in education,” she told the Gazette. “At the moment we are just being cut out of the debate on our children’s education.
“There is a growing sense that the government holds our interests very low down and doesn’t seem to understand that parents take this very seriously.”
Mrs Wilkinson, a Marshfield parish councillor and Liberal Democrat, lobbied backbench MPs on the issue at the Lib Dem conference last week.
“We want a full discussion and debate about a whole range of complexities on this, it is not just about taking our children out of school for a cheap holiday,” she said. “It needs to be looked at on an individual basis.”
She said the blanket ban on absences had changed her views on her children’s schools and made her question everything on the school curriculum.
“There are those days at the end of term when they watch a Disney film or something and it makes you question whether time with family is more valuable,” she said. “I have some real questions about what they are taught and how.”
An online petition against the new legislation was signed by more than 48,000 people prompting a backbench debate. A further petition started at the beginning of the school term has more than 110,000 signatures.
The Department for Education said the amendments are designed to help schools and local authorities address poor attendance and follow a recommendation made by Charlie Taylor, a former government adviser on behaviour.
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