Parents fined after taking son on term-time holiday to mark the anniversary of his ancestor’s historic WWII battle

The Mail is reporting that a family have been fined after taking their son on an educational term-time holiday to a WWII Arnhem battlefield to see where his relative fought.

Rachel Hughes, 41, from Blackpool, wanted her son Ben Pietersma, 13, to see the spot where Cpl John Atkinson fought Germans in 1944 ill-fated Operation Market Garden.

Cpl Atkinson, who died in 1994, fought with the 1st Battalion The Border Regiment in Sicily before landing in Arnhem by glider in the doomed action. 

He was the grandfather of Ms Hughes’ long-term partner Ben’s step-father – Andrew Lyons-Walker. 

Now Mr Lyons-Walker is considering taking Baines High School to court after they fined them £120 for taking him on the five-day trip.

The taxi driver, 38, said: ‘It’s important to us as a family and educational at the same time…

‘He will have learned more about the Second World War by doing this than anything in school.’

Mr Lyons-Walker is also considering his the court option after another UK father successfully argued his daughter’s unauthorised absence did not mean she failed to attend school regularly…

Baines High School headteacher Roddy McCowan said regardless of the amount of time, a child who misses school, misses out on learning…

More at: Parents are fined after taking son, 13, on term-time Dutch holiday to mark the anniversary of his ancestor’s historic WWII battle


Do you think the school has been harsh in this case or are they in a no-win situation with the legislation the way it is?

Or is the family wrong and no matter what they think about the educational value, would Ben have been better off staying at school (although that in turn may have prevented the parents from going to the family event too)?

Please unpick this the best you can in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Parenting, Policy and Secondary.


  1. neilayates

    SchoolsImprove This trip would have had the same impact at summer or half term. More parents trying to justify irresponsibility

  2. lennyvalentino

    SchoolsImprove The school is not in a ‘no-win’ situation as it is still the HT’s decision. Tough though as hard to turn down other families

  3. Miss teacher

    This annoys me. As do many adjectives and sob stories. “Muslim man hurts white man” – why is creed or colour relevant? No man should hurt another.
    “Mum of 10 not entitled to cancer drug” – why is familial status relevant? I would like to think everybody has an equal chance.
    “Child not allowed to take (Dutch) term time trip to see the home of his ancestors.” – what if his ancestors fought in ww2 but were from Skegness?!
    Rant over

  4. Nairb1

    The government needs to sort this out because papers like the Daily Mail are usng the rules to indulge in their usual LA and school bashing. If taking a holiday to mark the anniversary of a battle in which someone to which you aren’t even related directly is an ‘exceptional circumstance’ then so is every other term time holiday and the magistrates courts will be full.

  5. Nairb1

    The school is in a totally ‘no-win’ situation specifically because it’s still the HTs decision. Government rules say no permission for term time holidays other than in exceptional circumstances, without defining ‘exceptional’. This leaves heads in the impossible position of making a judgement about every holiday request. So is this holiday to see, again, a battlefield where a distant relative (step grandfather … is that even recognised as a relative?) fought an ‘exceptional’ circumstance? The family obviously think so, but then other families might consider saving £1500 on two weeks in Spain is equally exceptional. The government needs to sort out the shambles which is entirely of it’s creation.
    Incidentally if it’s the head’s decision then maybe Ofsted should stop scrutinising levels of ‘authorised absence’ and using those absence levels as a key part of their judgement.

  6. TW

    Nairb1  It’s entirely the head’s decision provided legal advice from the local authority, demands from government, and accountability to Ofsted are ignored.

  7. nrcantor

    SchoolsImprove The law seems clear. It’s about dealing with students who regularly miss school, not take a single term-time break.

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