A holiday is as instructive as a classroom education

A father has lost his legal challenge for taking his daughter on holiday during term time: Getty Images

While it is essential for children to attend school regularly, fining parents for taking their children on holiday is a political decision by a Government who want to keep their statistics up on tackling truancy.

The experiences that children get from travelling abroad with their families, or camping in the great outdoors, is as priceless their whole education.

As a former head teacher you cannot convince me that most children, whose parents give enough of their time to give their children such life experiences, won't help them catch up on the odd significant lessons they miss. The alternative for shift workers and those who cannot pick and choose their holidays is to either leave their children behind or not go at all.

If the Government had any guts they'd tackle real truancy, and change this workhouse education system for the 21st Century.

Glyn Scott


There’s one sure bet this Grand National

The Grand National is – by design – an accident waiting to happen. Forty horses run at breakneck speeds, competing for space during the 4.5-mile race fraught with obstacles, jumps, and dangerous terrain. Since 2000, more than 40 animals have perished at Aintree, and no doubt yet more will pay with their lives at this year's meet. Are our ethical standards really not high enough to recognise that horses – beautiful, sensitive, intelligent animals – shouldn't have to suffer and die so that people can win a few quid? There's no such thing as a "harmless flutter", and this cruelty will end only when the public stops betting on this national disgrace.

Jennifer White

London, N1

WHO is responsible?

Today marks World Health Day. This year's theme is mental health. It is ironic that we are talking about mental health when our world is grappling with militarism, climate change, air pollution, melting of glaciers, human rights violations and inequality.

This week chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians in Idlib, Syria demonstrates unequivocally the depth of depravity we have sunk to, the incompetence and inefficiency of international diplomacy and double standards of global powers when dealing with third world victims.

The World Health Organisation was created to embody humanity's hopes for peace, social solidarity, justice, good governance, gender equity and governance of health in the 21st century. Instead, the WHO has been inept in responding to global challenges and fulfilling its obligations under international humanitarian law.

What is the mission of such an organisation when it failed to mitigate human anguish, placate fear, burning injustices and consternation and intervene in global conflicts?

Munjed Farid al-Qutob

London, NW2

An illogical defence

The recent appalling use of chemical weapons against civilians by the Syrian Government is in contravention of the international ban on the use of this type of WMD. The action has rightly and loudly been condemned by the United Nations and the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, was particularly outspoken.

It is therefore ironic that, while Ambassador Haley does not - because it is banned - threaten the counter-use of WMD against Syrian Government forces, at the same time and in almost the same week she refused to participate in a UN Conference on banning Nuclear Weapons as WMDs!

The US Ambassador defended her absence from this Conference by telling reporters: "There is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons. But we have to be realistic." "Is there anyone that believes that North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons?" she asked.

Surely if we agree with the inclusion of chemical weapons on a list of banned WMD we should also include nuclear weapons in the list? Are they any less repulsive than chemical ones?

Robert Forsyth


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