Confessions of a
Criminal Dad

Every other week on editorial deadline day I sit staring at the computer for inspiration just like when I had an English Literature essay to write in 1978, and apart from being better smelling with a lot less hair nothing seems to have changed, my mind is a blank.

Having notifications arriving on your phone is normally just another distraction but I remember when the news arrived that the supreme court has ruled against Jon Platt who had previously won the right to take his child out of school for a holiday in a number of lower courts.

It seems that I was a very bad parent when my boys were small.  We had a holiday home and a zest for travel and so I constantly took them away for weeks in term time and skipped Fridays to enjoy a long weekend away.

Over the years we had fantastic experiences appreciating Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona, soaking up the culture in Florence and dining in Paris after touring The Louvre.  On one memorable occasion I spotted super cheap last minute flights to Santander.  This was before schools used email so I sent them a fax to say the boys wouldn’t be in on Monday and we spent a fantastic week Parador hopping along the Atlantic Coast in February.

When the British weather looked good we would drop everything and head to Cornwall where rock pools and beaches provided a different sort of interesting and educational experience.


First of all there is no question that we could not possibly have afforded these trips in prime school holiday time but this is not the real story.  Whether it’s stunning beaches, beautiful cathedrals, museums, galleries or The Coliseum the experience of visiting in August is more like an endurance reality show than a holiday.  Blazing sun, huge queues, packed restaurants and every form of tout trying to take your money mean that you’ll soon retreat to the hotel or villa to nurse your sunburn and blisters.

So what was the outcome of the disrupted education my sons endured?  Well the oldest got three A stars and an A including A stars in Spanish & French A levels, has graduated with a first class degree in modern languages and is now doing an MA at Oxford. The other who loved rock pools and beaches is half way through a degree in marine zoology. They love travel, culture and food and are both excellent cooks.

Now of course you can argue that they are not typical – they are bright and my wife is a qualified teacher so they had a very different experience to a kid from a deprived inner city area.  I would argue that the more difficult a child’s circumstances the more important a holiday is and the less likely they are to be able to afford one in school holidays.  There are of course important times in the school year not to miss but even the most modest caravan holiday with family will be a positive experience compared to a week in a class full of disruptive kids overseen by a bored and demotivated supply teacher.

Between now and Christmas we are offering fabulous properties at really low rates which could have been giving families a great experience that is normally out of reach and it is a real shame that a complete lack of flexibility is denying them this opportunity.

Simon Tolson owns Rumsey Holiday Homes in Sandbanks and a portfolio of holiday cottage agencies in Cornwall.

Contact Simon on:
t. 01202 707 357
a. 2 Banks Road, Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset BH13 7QD

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