Infographic and video: Is crackdown on holidays in school term-time unfair? Parents have their say

Parents can be fined for taking their children out of school during term-time for a family holiday - but are the laws too strict?

Parents can be fined for taking their children out of school during term-time for a family holiday - but are the laws too strict?

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , web manager

Parents have reacted with anger, defiance and dishonesty to a crackdown on taking children out of school during term-time for family holidays.

Fines of £60 per pupil, per parent, can be issued for removing children from school without permission, potentially increasing to £2,500 and a three-month jail term if unpaid.

Family holiday is no longer accepted as a reason for taking children out of school during term-time.

Parents claim overseas trips enrich children’s education rather than harm it, and many argue the ban on term-time absence is unfair because the price of family holidays rockets during peak season – which is when schools break up.

New research has shed more light on the issue, with more than half of parents admitting they have taken children out during term-time and concealed the reasons for doing so.

More than half say they will defy the clampdown in the future.

A majority of parents think the decision on whether to take children out of school during term-time should lie with them.

Top justifications for doing this include a child’s attendance being above 90 per cent and one or other parent being unable to take annual leave.

Interestingly, one in 10 people would snitch on other parents for taking their kids out of school.

The differences between the state and private education sectors also frustrate many parents.

Families with children in private schools are not liable for fines. Also, many private schools have shorter terms and longer holidays, meaning they can potentially avoid peak travel times – 73 per cent of parents surveyed said it is unfair, especially as research shows an increase of more than 80 per cent in flights to popular destinations between the date private schools break up and the date state schools finish for the summer.

See the infographic below and watch the video for more details on the research carried out on behalf of price comparison site Travelzoo and the opinions of parents it revealed.

Then have your say in the comments below. Do you think it is unfair parents are prevented from taking children out of school during term time for family holidays, or do you agree with the strict rules? Do you think it is wrong holiday prices shoot up during school holidays? If so, what should be done about it?

Here's the infographic - click on it to view a larger version:

This Is Local London: Term-time holiday debate infographic

Comments (15)

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8:30am Tue 8 Jul 14

PaulErith says...

Yep, should be fined. No excuse for taking your children out of valuable education.
Yep, should be fined. No excuse for taking your children out of valuable education. PaulErith
  • Score: -25

9:06am Tue 8 Jul 14

toomush2drink says...

In my line of work my holidays are allocated, i then need to try and find someone who will swap with me.This isnt easy as obviously a lot want the school holidays too.
If i dont manage to get the school holidays off then i dont go away with the kids as their education is important. i make it up for it through out the year with lots of small breaks and weekends away instead.
In my line of work my holidays are allocated, i then need to try and find someone who will swap with me.This isnt easy as obviously a lot want the school holidays too. If i dont manage to get the school holidays off then i dont go away with the kids as their education is important. i make it up for it through out the year with lots of small breaks and weekends away instead. toomush2drink
  • Score: 9

9:18am Tue 8 Jul 14

right-writes says...

As I understand things the people that take their children abroad during term time, are usually just on "fact finding missions" to try to understand why, that despite our children being locked up in school for longer than any pupils anywhere else in the world, that we still have a sub-standard and failing education system.

Perhaps the teachers don't have good enough pensions...

...Better go on strike then.

But let's not be fining parents because their children don't turn up on Thursday.
As I understand things the people that take their children abroad during term time, are usually just on "fact finding missions" to try to understand why, that despite our children being locked up in school for longer than any pupils anywhere else in the world, that we still have a sub-standard and failing education system. Perhaps the teachers don't have good enough pensions... ...Better go on strike then. But let's not be fining parents because their children don't turn up on Thursday. right-writes
  • Score: 23

9:52am Tue 8 Jul 14

the wall says...

right-writes wrote:
As I understand things the people that take their children abroad during term time, are usually just on "fact finding missions" to try to understand why, that despite our children being locked up in school for longer than any pupils anywhere else in the world, that we still have a sub-standard and failing education system.

Perhaps the teachers don't have good enough pensions...

...Better go on strike then.

But let's not be fining parents because their children don't turn up on Thursday.
locked up in school for longer than any pupils anywhere else in the world.... Wrong try Japan upto 8 hours in some schools and the kids don't learn any better because of the hours. Most parents just leave it to the school to teach their brats. Parents need to get involved.
[quote][p][bold]right-writes[/bold] wrote: As I understand things the people that take their children abroad during term time, are usually just on "fact finding missions" to try to understand why, that despite our children being locked up in school for longer than any pupils anywhere else in the world, that we still have a sub-standard and failing education system. Perhaps the teachers don't have good enough pensions... ...Better go on strike then. But let's not be fining parents because their children don't turn up on Thursday.[/p][/quote]locked up in school for longer than any pupils anywhere else in the world.... Wrong try Japan upto 8 hours in some schools and the kids don't learn any better because of the hours. Most parents just leave it to the school to teach their brats. Parents need to get involved. the wall
  • Score: -13

10:38am Tue 8 Jul 14

Gin21 says...

I think that you should be able to take your child out of school for 2 weeks to spend time on a family holiday., so long as this does not occur around any exam time then there should be no harm in it. Obviously as the child gets older and in secondary school there are more exams being done so the parents have to be sensible about what they do. I cannot see what harm a one or two week break can do to infant and junior age children. Personally we have not had a proper family holiday for about 3 years as we cannot afford to pay the accelerated fees that are charged during school holidays.

The system always used to be that up to 2 weeks were allowed to be taken for a family holiday with no detrimental effect on their education happening. Now it is all about targets!
I think that you should be able to take your child out of school for 2 weeks to spend time on a family holiday., so long as this does not occur around any exam time then there should be no harm in it. Obviously as the child gets older and in secondary school there are more exams being done so the parents have to be sensible about what they do. I cannot see what harm a one or two week break can do to infant and junior age children. Personally we have not had a proper family holiday for about 3 years as we cannot afford to pay the accelerated fees that are charged during school holidays. The system always used to be that up to 2 weeks were allowed to be taken for a family holiday with no detrimental effect on their education happening. Now it is all about targets! Gin21
  • Score: 40

11:03am Tue 8 Jul 14

right-writes says...

Gin21 wrote:
I think that you should be able to take your child out of school for 2 weeks to spend time on a family holiday., so long as this does not occur around any exam time then there should be no harm in it. Obviously as the child gets older and in secondary school there are more exams being done so the parents have to be sensible about what they do. I cannot see what harm a one or two week break can do to infant and junior age children. Personally we have not had a proper family holiday for about 3 years as we cannot afford to pay the accelerated fees that are charged during school holidays.

The system always used to be that up to 2 weeks were allowed to be taken for a family holiday with no detrimental effect on their education happening. Now it is all about targets!
You have a good point about the raised prices that can make it difficult for parents to afford...

I heard another good reason why this somewhat fascist new restriction is a bad idea. In places where there is a good tourist season, oddly usually some of the poorest areas in the country, children of parents who work in that industry would not be able to give up the time to go on holiday during school holidays, since this is their peak income time.

Also @ "the wall", recently there has been a continuing "white noise" effect coming from the government about children spending ever more time in school... More years, more hours (homework clubs etc.), so we are heading in the same direction as your Japanese example, but the consistent message that we are getting is that education standards are falling further and further behind the rest of the world.

My example would be Ireland which has a much better standard of education than here, and yet they take 12 weeks off in summer, not 6.

It is a pity, that there is not much to do there afterwards, and so its biggest export remains, its people.
[quote][p][bold]Gin21[/bold] wrote: I think that you should be able to take your child out of school for 2 weeks to spend time on a family holiday., so long as this does not occur around any exam time then there should be no harm in it. Obviously as the child gets older and in secondary school there are more exams being done so the parents have to be sensible about what they do. I cannot see what harm a one or two week break can do to infant and junior age children. Personally we have not had a proper family holiday for about 3 years as we cannot afford to pay the accelerated fees that are charged during school holidays. The system always used to be that up to 2 weeks were allowed to be taken for a family holiday with no detrimental effect on their education happening. Now it is all about targets![/p][/quote]You have a good point about the raised prices that can make it difficult for parents to afford... I heard another good reason why this somewhat fascist new restriction is a bad idea. In places where there is a good tourist season, oddly usually some of the poorest areas in the country, children of parents who work in that industry would not be able to give up the time to go on holiday during school holidays, since this is their peak income time. Also @ "the wall", recently there has been a continuing "white noise" effect coming from the government about children spending ever more time in school... More years, more hours (homework clubs etc.), so we are heading in the same direction as your Japanese example, but the consistent message that we are getting is that education standards are falling further and further behind the rest of the world. My example would be Ireland which has a much better standard of education than here, and yet they take 12 weeks off in summer, not 6. It is a pity, that there is not much to do there afterwards, and so its biggest export remains, its people. right-writes
  • Score: 30

12:07pm Tue 8 Jul 14

the wall says...

right-writes wrote:
Gin21 wrote:
I think that you should be able to take your child out of school for 2 weeks to spend time on a family holiday., so long as this does not occur around any exam time then there should be no harm in it. Obviously as the child gets older and in secondary school there are more exams being done so the parents have to be sensible about what they do. I cannot see what harm a one or two week break can do to infant and junior age children. Personally we have not had a proper family holiday for about 3 years as we cannot afford to pay the accelerated fees that are charged during school holidays.

The system always used to be that up to 2 weeks were allowed to be taken for a family holiday with no detrimental effect on their education happening. Now it is all about targets!
You have a good point about the raised prices that can make it difficult for parents to afford...

I heard another good reason why this somewhat fascist new restriction is a bad idea. In places where there is a good tourist season, oddly usually some of the poorest areas in the country, children of parents who work in that industry would not be able to give up the time to go on holiday during school holidays, since this is their peak income time.

Also @ "the wall", recently there has been a continuing "white noise" effect coming from the government about children spending ever more time in school... More years, more hours (homework clubs etc.), so we are heading in the same direction as your Japanese example, but the consistent message that we are getting is that education standards are falling further and further behind the rest of the world.

My example would be Ireland which has a much better standard of education than here, and yet they take 12 weeks off in summer, not 6.

It is a pity, that there is not much to do there afterwards, and so its biggest export remains, its people.
It's not my Japanese example, it's an example of education in Japan. In reply to you stating that kids are locked up in school for longer than any pupils anywhere else in the world. When they are not.

How many parents sit down with there kids and read with them?

Teacher don't really teach any more and schools have become a business.
[quote][p][bold]right-writes[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Gin21[/bold] wrote: I think that you should be able to take your child out of school for 2 weeks to spend time on a family holiday., so long as this does not occur around any exam time then there should be no harm in it. Obviously as the child gets older and in secondary school there are more exams being done so the parents have to be sensible about what they do. I cannot see what harm a one or two week break can do to infant and junior age children. Personally we have not had a proper family holiday for about 3 years as we cannot afford to pay the accelerated fees that are charged during school holidays. The system always used to be that up to 2 weeks were allowed to be taken for a family holiday with no detrimental effect on their education happening. Now it is all about targets![/p][/quote]You have a good point about the raised prices that can make it difficult for parents to afford... I heard another good reason why this somewhat fascist new restriction is a bad idea. In places where there is a good tourist season, oddly usually some of the poorest areas in the country, children of parents who work in that industry would not be able to give up the time to go on holiday during school holidays, since this is their peak income time. Also @ "the wall", recently there has been a continuing "white noise" effect coming from the government about children spending ever more time in school... More years, more hours (homework clubs etc.), so we are heading in the same direction as your Japanese example, but the consistent message that we are getting is that education standards are falling further and further behind the rest of the world. My example would be Ireland which has a much better standard of education than here, and yet they take 12 weeks off in summer, not 6. It is a pity, that there is not much to do there afterwards, and so its biggest export remains, its people.[/p][/quote]It's not my Japanese example, it's an example of education in Japan. In reply to you stating that kids are locked up in school for longer than any pupils anywhere else in the world. When they are not. How many parents sit down with there kids and read with them? Teacher don't really teach any more and schools have become a business. the wall
  • Score: 1

2:17pm Tue 8 Jul 14

mumma66 says...

My parents took me out of school every year for a family holiday always the first 2 weeks in July after all the important education had been done and only leisure activities where being pursued at school ! We only went on holiday in the UK but I learnt a great deal on these holidays my father gave us a atlas each so we could follow the route we where taking and also learn to map read we visited many historic places and nature reserves and was also requested to make a project of our holiday events as well as having fun and bonding as a family having quality time together as both my parents worked fall time and where unable the get time off together in the school holidays I believe I gained more education with these trips than my peers so if they allow parents to take their children out of school at sensible times this would enrich their childrens education not punish it !
My parents took me out of school every year for a family holiday always the first 2 weeks in July after all the important education had been done and only leisure activities where being pursued at school ! We only went on holiday in the UK but I learnt a great deal on these holidays my father gave us a atlas each so we could follow the route we where taking and also learn to map read we visited many historic places and nature reserves and was also requested to make a project of our holiday events as well as having fun and bonding as a family having quality time together as both my parents worked fall time and where unable the get time off together in the school holidays I believe I gained more education with these trips than my peers so if they allow parents to take their children out of school at sensible times this would enrich their childrens education not punish it ! mumma66
  • Score: 27

3:20pm Tue 8 Jul 14

the wall says...

mumma66 wrote:
My parents took me out of school every year for a family holiday always the first 2 weeks in July after all the important education had been done and only leisure activities where being pursued at school ! We only went on holiday in the UK but I learnt a great deal on these holidays my father gave us a atlas each so we could follow the route we where taking and also learn to map read we visited many historic places and nature reserves and was also requested to make a project of our holiday events as well as having fun and bonding as a family having quality time together as both my parents worked fall time and where unable the get time off together in the school holidays I believe I gained more education with these trips than my peers so if they allow parents to take their children out of school at sensible times this would enrich their childrens education not punish it !
Your parents were good parents. Now days people think they are good parents becuase they work hard and can buy their brat an ipad or smart phone. They give their kid everything but boundaries.
[quote][p][bold]mumma66[/bold] wrote: My parents took me out of school every year for a family holiday always the first 2 weeks in July after all the important education had been done and only leisure activities where being pursued at school ! We only went on holiday in the UK but I learnt a great deal on these holidays my father gave us a atlas each so we could follow the route we where taking and also learn to map read we visited many historic places and nature reserves and was also requested to make a project of our holiday events as well as having fun and bonding as a family having quality time together as both my parents worked fall time and where unable the get time off together in the school holidays I believe I gained more education with these trips than my peers so if they allow parents to take their children out of school at sensible times this would enrich their childrens education not punish it ![/p][/quote]Your parents were good parents. Now days people think they are good parents becuase they work hard and can buy their brat an ipad or smart phone. They give their kid everything but boundaries. the wall
  • Score: 12

9:04pm Tue 8 Jul 14

T. Thompso says...

Totally unfair. The decision should be the parents, not the schools. Obviously within reason. The difference btwn private schools speaks volumes. What message is it sending?
Why are those w/o children in private education liable for fines and possible jail sentences. Turn it around. Fine those in private schools. As the article states they have longer holidays so it possibly wouldn't effect them. If it did, they would be able to pay any fines considerably easier. Don't penalise families for wanting to spend valuable time together on holiday. The majority of children would benefit from spending time together.
Learning doesn't only happen in a classroom/school.
Totally unfair. The decision should be the parents, not the schools. Obviously within reason. The difference btwn private schools speaks volumes. What message is it sending? Why are those w/o children in private education liable for fines and possible jail sentences. Turn it around. Fine those in private schools. As the article states they have longer holidays so it possibly wouldn't effect them. If it did, they would be able to pay any fines considerably easier. Don't penalise families for wanting to spend valuable time together on holiday. The majority of children would benefit from spending time together. Learning doesn't only happen in a classroom/school. T. Thompso
  • Score: 17

9:20pm Tue 8 Jul 14

KLR001 says...

If there are exams etc then of course you shouldn't take your child out of school. But I really don't see the problem in Primary School, although Secondary School may be slightly different. However, why is it that it is OK, for the last week or so of term to be spent playing games or watching DVD's at school. Personally, I would prefer my children to be taught up until the end of term and maybe have the last day doing these things, but as that is not the case I really can't see what is wrong with taking a few days off of school at the end of a term.
If there are exams etc then of course you shouldn't take your child out of school. But I really don't see the problem in Primary School, although Secondary School may be slightly different. However, why is it that it is OK, for the last week or so of term to be spent playing games or watching DVD's at school. Personally, I would prefer my children to be taught up until the end of term and maybe have the last day doing these things, but as that is not the case I really can't see what is wrong with taking a few days off of school at the end of a term. KLR001
  • Score: 22

1:02pm Wed 9 Jul 14

fionaf says...

A holiday is not a given right. It has to be earned. I haven't had the money for a holiday for several years. I choose to spend my money on a decent education for my daughter and have two jobs to enable this to be the case. I wouldn't be concerned if the fines extended beyond the state sector. I still find time outside of school to go to museums, plays and support non-school projects so my daughter is always learning. Taking a child out of school for a holiday sends the wrong message to the child about how important education is. Will they grow up to be responsible enough to work hard at exams to get a good job and then pay for their own holiday if they think they can break the rules, either by getting a fine or lying? A lot will be totally unaffected and grow up wanting the best for their children, but some will not. Unfortunately the Government has to account for all and some who have the best of intentions will be penalised as a result.
A holiday is not a given right. It has to be earned. I haven't had the money for a holiday for several years. I choose to spend my money on a decent education for my daughter and have two jobs to enable this to be the case. I wouldn't be concerned if the fines extended beyond the state sector. I still find time outside of school to go to museums, plays and support non-school projects so my daughter is always learning. Taking a child out of school for a holiday sends the wrong message to the child about how important education is. Will they grow up to be responsible enough to work hard at exams to get a good job and then pay for their own holiday if they think they can break the rules, either by getting a fine or lying? A lot will be totally unaffected and grow up wanting the best for their children, but some will not. Unfortunately the Government has to account for all and some who have the best of intentions will be penalised as a result. fionaf
  • Score: 6

1:32pm Wed 9 Jul 14

PaulErith says...

T. Thompso wrote:
Totally unfair. The decision should be the parents, not the schools. Obviously within reason. The difference btwn private schools speaks volumes. What message is it sending?
Why are those w/o children in private education liable for fines and possible jail sentences. Turn it around. Fine those in private schools. As the article states they have longer holidays so it possibly wouldn't effect them. If it did, they would be able to pay any fines considerably easier. Don't penalise families for wanting to spend valuable time together on holiday. The majority of children would benefit from spending time together.
Learning doesn't only happen in a classroom/school.
The problem is you can't say it's the parent's decision because there's too many irresponsible, bad parents. The state has to intervene because people aren't capable of bringing up their children correctly. Given the choice, you'd have parents pulling their kids out of school for all kinds of reasons.

As a principle, I agree with the rule anyway. People can say, for example, that missing a couple of weeks won't harm them that much. However, is that true? In a subject like maths, for example, the content of the term is such that one lesson follows on from another. What is supposed to happen if a child has completely missed a topic that is the prerequisite to the area that's being covered when they return from holiday? Do you go back over the work for the previous two weeks? That's unfair and holds back the rest of the class who already know it. Because parents would all be choosing their holidays at different times, then on any one Monday, you've got one or more children returning and the teacher is constantly having to go back and reteach concepts. It's wrong. Therefore, the fair and better way is to have the current rule in place.
[quote][p][bold]T. Thompso[/bold] wrote: Totally unfair. The decision should be the parents, not the schools. Obviously within reason. The difference btwn private schools speaks volumes. What message is it sending? Why are those w/o children in private education liable for fines and possible jail sentences. Turn it around. Fine those in private schools. As the article states they have longer holidays so it possibly wouldn't effect them. If it did, they would be able to pay any fines considerably easier. Don't penalise families for wanting to spend valuable time together on holiday. The majority of children would benefit from spending time together. Learning doesn't only happen in a classroom/school.[/p][/quote]The problem is you can't say it's the parent's decision because there's too many irresponsible, bad parents. The state has to intervene because people aren't capable of bringing up their children correctly. Given the choice, you'd have parents pulling their kids out of school for all kinds of reasons. As a principle, I agree with the rule anyway. People can say, for example, that missing a couple of weeks won't harm them that much. However, is that true? In a subject like maths, for example, the content of the term is such that one lesson follows on from another. What is supposed to happen if a child has completely missed a topic that is the prerequisite to the area that's being covered when they return from holiday? Do you go back over the work for the previous two weeks? That's unfair and holds back the rest of the class who already know it. Because parents would all be choosing their holidays at different times, then on any one Monday, you've got one or more children returning and the teacher is constantly having to go back and reteach concepts. It's wrong. Therefore, the fair and better way is to have the current rule in place. PaulErith
  • Score: 5

1:56pm Wed 9 Jul 14

reasonable75 says...

"Parents claim overseas trips enrich children’s education rather than harm it"

Really, how? Spending time on a beach or water park is going to teach them about the culture of the country they visit isn't it

In a class there could be 10 children missing, all at different times. As PaulErith said the teacher will then have to go over subjects again - which is unfair on the children who have attended the whole term

I'm sure some of the parents would quickly complain if their child failed an exam - obviously it would be the teachers fault, nothing to do with them missing a week or more of lessons
"Parents claim overseas trips enrich children’s education rather than harm it" Really, how? Spending time on a beach or water park is going to teach them about the culture of the country they visit isn't it In a class there could be 10 children missing, all at different times. As PaulErith said the teacher will then have to go over subjects again - which is unfair on the children who have attended the whole term I'm sure some of the parents would quickly complain if their child failed an exam - obviously it would be the teachers fault, nothing to do with them missing a week or more of lessons reasonable75
  • Score: 8

4:23am Thu 17 Jul 14

angelap123 says...

reasonable75 wrote:
"Parents claim overseas trips enrich children’s education rather than harm it"

Really, how? Spending time on a beach or water park is going to teach them about the culture of the country they visit isn't it

In a class there could be 10 children missing, all at different times. As PaulErith said the teacher will then have to go over subjects again - which is unfair on the children who have attended the whole term

I'm sure some of the parents would quickly complain if their child failed an exam - obviously it would be the teachers fault, nothing to do with them missing a week or more of lessons
bull**** they get to learn new languages see places of interest , so tell me if a child had tonsillitis or an illness they would most likely be absent from school for at least five to seven days so what would you suggest that they go to school sick and be forced to learn if a child is pushed to hard to learn at school the result is they rebel I know it happened with my child ,Yes I agree that their education is very important but a couple of weeks to take them on holiday cant possible affect their learning a teacher could give the child written work to take with them on holiday or the government should make sure that holidays companies keep their prices low for half term holidays instead of fining parents who cannot afford the increased fares that holiday companies seem to get away with then there would be no problem
[quote][p][bold]reasonable75[/bold] wrote: "Parents claim overseas trips enrich children’s education rather than harm it" Really, how? Spending time on a beach or water park is going to teach them about the culture of the country they visit isn't it In a class there could be 10 children missing, all at different times. As PaulErith said the teacher will then have to go over subjects again - which is unfair on the children who have attended the whole term I'm sure some of the parents would quickly complain if their child failed an exam - obviously it would be the teachers fault, nothing to do with them missing a week or more of lessons[/p][/quote]bull**** they get to learn new languages see places of interest , so tell me if a child had tonsillitis or an illness they would most likely be absent from school for at least five to seven days so what would you suggest that they go to school sick and be forced to learn if a child is pushed to hard to learn at school the result is they rebel I know it happened with my child ,Yes I agree that their education is very important but a couple of weeks to take them on holiday cant possible affect their learning a teacher could give the child written work to take with them on holiday or the government should make sure that holidays companies keep their prices low for half term holidays instead of fining parents who cannot afford the increased fares that holiday companies seem to get away with then there would be no problem angelap123
  • Score: 0

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