The organiser of England’s largest agricultural show has expressed alarm that rules designed to discourage parents from taking their children on term-time holidays could mean that families are less likely to attend.
The Yorkshire Agricultural Society is urging the Government to relax rules around term-time trips, after highlighting the educational benefits of the Great Yorkshire Show, which last year drew 135,000 visitors.
The move comes after last week’s High Court ruling that saw a judge state that unless a child is sick, absent because of religious observance reasons, or unable to attend because their school transport did not arrive, they must attend school – unless the headteacher has stated otherwise.
Show director Charles Mills said: “Education is at the heart of the society’s ethos and educating the younger generations about the importance of farming is vital.
“We fear that with the current High Court ruling, fewer children of school age will visit the show – unless it’s part of an organised school trip.
Some headteachers allow parents to bring their children to the show, but others won’t sanction it – so this means children are missing outCharles Mills, Show director
“We are writing to government ministers and Yorkshire MPs to ask them to support a proposal from the Yorkshire Agricultural Society to waive this restriction so that parents can bring their children to the Great Yorkshire Show.”
The society is also inviting the secretary of state for education, Justine Greening, shadow education minister Angela Rayner and Yorkshire MPs to the show so they can see for themselves how valuable it is as an educational event.
The three-day show will take place on 11-13 July, which is during term time.
Mr Mills said that, while some Yorkshire schools organised official trips, it was a grey area for parents whose children attended schools that did not.
“Some headteachers allow parents to bring their children to the show, but others won’t sanction it – so this means children are missing out,” he said.
“People are uncertain about what they can and can’t do and we are calling for flexibility and clear guidance so that we can continue to welcome and educate the younger generations and parents can [bring their children] without fear of repercussions.”
Mr Mills said the show brought the town and country together so farmers could understand more about their customers and the public gained a better insight into what is involved in putting food on the table and the important role British farmers play in doing that.