Readers' letters - November 1

Politicians have played arole in school holiday rip-off

Once again it is ‘rip-off’ time... the time when the holiday companies rip off those conscientious parents who take their children on holiday during the school holidays.

This should never have been a problem for parents, nor the schools, nor indeed the local authorities.

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It has always been 
the problem of the holiday companies and the government of the day.

I was, for several years, a governor at two primary schools, and I tried to argue the point with fellow governors, who had a great deal of sympathy with my views.

Little sympathy came from some of the schools’ teachers, whose attitude was “I have to take my holidays then, so why shouldn’t they?”

When I wrote to the Department of Education, as it was then, their dismissive reply was,“we cannot interfere with the workings of private companies”.

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Of course, a child’s education suffers if they are taken out of school in the period leading up to any exams, be they Sats or GCSEs, but any responsible parent hopefully would not do that.

Perhaps one myth could be exploded.

A child’s education does not suffer for life as a result of them taking a week out, otherwise the many thousands of children who take a week off due to illness would be similarly affected.

David Craggs

Address supplied

Get vaccinated against disease

As a new intake of first years take the plunge into university life, I, like many of my fellow final years, feel jealousy that I can’t be in their shoes, repeating the fun of Fresher’s week. But there is also a part of me that feels unsettled.

You see, I’ve had meningitis and I know how it can change a life in an instant. As a fresher, I felt it was time to escape the constraints that the disease had placed on my life, yet it stared me right in the face once more. Why?

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I was surrounded by posters telling me to get a vaccine, letters and calls from GPs and awareness posters telling me to look out for the symptoms of flu. Because although I had meningitis as a child, I had now entered the age group where I was at risk again.

I am writing this to share one message, one plea – to encourage you to get vaccinated.

Meningitis just loves students. Run down, away from home, not eating or sleeping properly and most of all, having fun. The perfect place for even a rare disease like meningitis to rear its ugly head. But it is rare, and there are ways we can protect ourselves. There are many different strains of meningitis.

Luckily, if you’re a first year student under the age of 25, you can receive a vaccine to protect against four of these strains (A, C, W & Y), free of charge from your GP.

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The process is simple, and the most taxing thing is probably getting round to actually making the appointment in the first place, but then it is done.

Another thing you can do is carry a Meningitis Now symptoms card, which is a small, purse-sized card explaining what you need to look out for. Meningitis is sneaky, with its flu-like symptoms masking the enormity of what is truly going on within a body. By having the disease on your radar, you can protect yourself by ensuring speedy diagnosis and therefore treatment, minimising your risk of after-effects.

They’re free and easy to carry. There is even an app equivalent of the cards.

While there are vaccines available, they don’t protect against every strain of meningitis and it’s so important to be vigilant of the symptoms.

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Meningitis Now funds research into vaccines and prevention, raising awareness so people know what to look for and what action to take if they suspect meningitis. It also rebuilds futures by providing dedicated support. For more information, visit www.

Rosie Heaton

via email