Holiday bungle shows lack of joined up thinking

JPCT 230414 S14171030x Blaise Tapp -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140423-130729001
JPCT 230414 S14171030x Blaise Tapp -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140423-130729001

Joined up thinking, a bit like joined up handwriting has never been my forte.

If they were to hand out gold medals for making hard work for yourself then I would be the daft beggar’s equivalent of Mark Spitz. While some well prepared dads pack a bag with baby wipes, extra pants and anti-chaffing cream for a day out, I make sure we have got enough money for chips.

Only last week, on the hottest day of the year - an outcome which had been correctly forecast by the Met Office’s finest - I was late getting my four-year-old to school. Why? Because I had to take a diversion to Horsham’s Swan Walk to buy sun cream, otherwise I would have been guaranteed to have received a visit from a stern looking woman with a clipboard wanting to know why my daughter had third degree burns.

In fact, I am so bad at looking at the bigger picture in my personal life that I could probably get a job in David Cameron’s very own cabinet of all the talents. For there cannot be an organisation so lacking in vision than Her Majesty’s Government.

This week the Coalition unveiled its latest pre-election ‘gift’ to voters - flexible working for all. A great thing no doubt and for many years carers, largely mums and some dads (me included) have benefited from guidelines which nudged employers to ensure there is a work life balance.

As of Monday employers must now consider requests from all workers who think they can prove there is a strong case for them to work their contracted hours across fewer days. In reality, what this new ruling does is remind mums, but mainly dads and even grandparents that their bosses at least have an obligation to consider their request to family friendly hours.

In short this change in the law, which was announced amid much fanfare, is the legislative equivalent of kissing babies and will be welcomed by many. However, the Tories and their Lib Dem bag carriers, should keep the champagne on ice as another one of their policies - Michael Gove’s much maligned clampdown on term time holidays - faces a growing backlash.

The rule, which states that children can only be removed from school if their headteacher agrees there are exceptional circumstances have prompted a huge outcry and it is now being challenged in court by a City banker who is refusing to pay the fine he incurred for removing his children to attend a family memorial service.

Every parent I have spoken to agrees that the law is heavy handed as most would only ever take their children out of the classroom if it was absolutely necessary but it doesn’t help that the Government has singularly failed to stop holiday companies charging whatever they like during school breaks.

Once again, our bungling decision makers have contrived to undo all the good work of one new policy by introducing a deeply unpopular one. Joined up thinking boys and girls - it is not that hard.