ES Views: Do headteachers have too much power over parents?

Parent Mark Platt was fined for taking his children to Disney World during school time. Should the law change?: Mark Ashman/Disney Parks via Getty Images

In the case of the parent who refused to pay a fine for removing his daughter from school to go away on holiday [“Families face new clamp on term-time holidays”, April 6], the Supreme Court has interpreted the law as it sees it in its present drafting.

However, the real outrage is that school headteachers can veto and levy fines against parents, acting almost as judge and jury in their own case. This is wrong and unfair, considering they are not suited to the task and also have a vested interest in defeating applications.

Everyone should ensure that their children attend school regularly but families have needs that will occasionally take precedence and mean children being absent from school.

While the law allows for some flexibility, headteachers often exercise too rigidly the power that they have been given — this needs to be checked back.
Peter Roberts

It is incredible that Jon Platt finds it “utterly shocking” that the Supreme Court has ruled against him.

Like the majority of us, trips away that my parents could not afford during the school holidays simply did not happen.

I wish Mr Platt would spend some time in the developing countries as opposed to Disney World in Florida, as it might educate him to take a less flippant view of education and see that many there would give anything to attend school.
Matthew Ford

With regards to the term-time holiday ruling, it would be a great idea to move state-school holidays in line with private schools. This would ensure that all families benefit from the lower costs that they benefit from by breaking up earlier, in some cases a week or more.
Mandy Bardouille

While I agree with the ruling, it should certainly be one rule for all to limit class disruption until something is done to address the outrageous profiteering by the holiday industry.

How can families without large incomes afford a well-earned break in the summer? I have four children and it is twice the cost to travel during a school holiday. Why should they miss out on experiences because of corporate greed?
Dean Harding

Parents, not the educational establishment, should be trusted to make this decision on behalf of their child. The attitude that schooling is always more important than family life is insulting.

Life should be about more than passing exams, which do not appear to lend much enchantment to our existence. What narrow-minded, politically correct cap-doffers we would become if we didn’t disobey this edict.
Penny Baker

Croydon is united against crime

Like many Londoners, I was appalled by the vile and cowardly attack on a young asylum-seeker in Croydon and our thoughts and prayers remain with Reker Ahmed at this time.

Since the attack, I am proud of how our community has come together to let the world know that hate crime will not be tolerated in our borough.

This senseless incident does not represent the Croydon I know and love, the town I have lived in for more than 30 years. Local people and those choosing to come here tell me they live here because they love Croydon’s diversity. We will not allow one attack, however vicious, to damage our reputation.

We have a long history of supporting asylum-seekers in Croydon, and the borough has a close working relationship with the Home Office, whose immigration screening centre in our town centre is where all asylum applications are first processed.

The vast majority of young asylum-seekers who arrived here have been welcomed into our community, which was evident when hundreds of children were cheered on their arrival from the Calais Jungle last year.

Both Croydon and the justice system must send the clearest possible message that hate will never divide us. Our strength is our unity, and that is why we will prevail.
Cllr Tony Newman, Leader, Croydon Council

Women must have privacy in toilets

As Dame Jenni Murray and writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discovered recently, standing up for women as a biological sex is a risky business nowadays. The backlash from people who believe that sex-based oppression is non-existent and that “woman” is simply an identity anyone can take on can be vicious.

That is why I would like to express my appreciation for Samira Ahmed’s comments on the Barbican’s gender- neutral toilets, as reported in your newspaper [“Toilet humour notably absent at the Barbican”, Diary, April 5], standing up for women’s rights to privacy in toilets.

The more people who follow her lead and have the courage to speak out for women, the better.
Charlotte Edwards

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Aircraft pollution is far worse than cars

Your report [“Pollution rises around Heathrow as third runway plans continue”, April 5] notes that Heathrow Airport stressed it took its “environmental obligations seriously” and plans to cut road- traffic emissions.

Sally Carey [Letters, April 6] says the elephant in the room is the number of private vehicles working for Uber. This is a very valid point but, more importantly, I think the real elephant in the room is the passenger jet. With one plane a minute crossing the capital, it must add a huge amount of nitrous oxides to an already toxic mix.

While it makes sense to reduce the number of diesel vehicles, it is crazy to increase the number of planes passing over London by 50 per cent.
Dr Richard Bloore

Sally Carey is right to say that the authorities are part of the air pollution problem by licensing countless minicabs and closing off certain roads — all too often with little regard for the consequences in terms of congestion and pollution.

However, the scale of these delays and congestion is down to the many car drivers who seem to make all sorts of short journeys in and around central London that could be made using public transport instead.

We must remember that we ourselves may be part of the air pollution problem too.
Gordon Thompson

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Agents have ruined my beloved game

It was recently revealed that Premier League clubs spent £174 million on agents’ fees in the past two transfer windows. If anything can show exactly where football has gone wrong, this is it.

No longer do players choose which club they want to play for. If an agent has connections at a certain club, the player will go there because the agent will convince him.

Until the involvement of agents in transfers and new contracts is limited, they will continue to starve the game of any lasting integrity.
Kevin Parker

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