On average, children miss 10 days of school a year through illness, leaving parents with the dilemma of having to 'throw a sickie' in order to care for them
As a mother of three, the Patricia Amos case captured my interest.
The children skived school and their mother was imprisoned as a consequence. I am sure many working parents looked at their own children and wondered: are they as virtuous as they appear?
Clearly, the Amos case is extreme, but it does force a rethink of the whole issue of working parents and childcare.
We all know children play truant, but what is surprising is the sheer scale of the problem in the UK. Recent research shows that 50,000 children a day skip school.
Frequently, my own children will try to wheedle a day off school, but I am fortunate in that I deal with nothing more serious than a reluctance to attend double French and the problem is resolved with a stern look.
However, for many parents, coping with work and school-age children is far more complex.
Gordon Brown has officially launched a war on the 'sickie' - the CIPD claims that staff absenteeism is costing employers £13bn a year. While this is more likely to be triggered by the after effects of alcohol than double French, the impact for the employer is equally serious.
Children are absent from school for 10 days a year on average, and parents have little recourse - aside from holiday leave - to ask their employer for time off.
My three children attend different schools, meaning my husband and I share joint responsibility for school plays, swimming galas, sports days, etc.
With all our children over the age of five, neither of us, according to the Department of Trade and Industry, can ask for parental leave. We have our holiday entitlement and, fortunately for us, understanding employers.
If we did not, we would each have 25 days holiday to cover these responsibilities, family holidays and illness.
How would we cope with the unexpected, individual day off? Probably with a sickie.
Suzanne Braun Levinne, author of Father Courage: What Happens When Men Put Family First, conducted research with 50 American working fathers to see how they dealt with juggling family and work life; the results were alarming.
All fathers expressed reluctance to use employers' parental programs - typically they would take holiday o