Holidaying with children in term time

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Is this in term time?

Taking children away from school to go on holiday has been a contentious issue for some time. Now that the rules have altered is this having an effect?

Since 1 September 2013, schools have only been allowed to grant leave during term-time under “exceptional circumstances.” It might be a bit early for evidence to say that parents have knuckled under and are resisting the urge to take advantage of cheaper holiday prices. But there are signs that lead you to think the regulations will be flouted by some as I suggested the last time I wrote on this subject.

Research from The Key – an independent service that supports more than 35,000 school leaders – suggests that school leaders think that parents will disregard the rules and holiday anyway. The head of The Key, Feargal Roche, says “Despite the new regulations, term-time leave continues to be an issue for many leaders, particularly those in primary schools. It is clear that the value of the fines imposed is insufficient to deter parents who are saving considerably more on the cost of holidays in peak periods.” He draws that conclusion from the research where just over 62% of all those leaders who replied to the survey said that they didn’t expect any reduction in the number of requests to take children on holiday in school time.

That high percentage makes you think the government has got it wrong. As The Key makes plain, in primary schools the level of requests to take a child out of school in term time has risen more than it has in secondary schools. And that is probably because most parents believe that secondary school lessons are more important than primary school ones.

And the belief from The Key is that people aren’t really taking children away for 7, 10 or 14 days at a time but just adding a few days on at the beginning or end of term. Why that conclusion? Because the number of days off sick has been rising since the new regulation was introduced.

The same research shows that just over a third of leaders think that requests for leave has declined. So it appears that only particular groups of parents are removing children. Which groups? The research might reveal that next time.

Parents aren’t daft but is the government? Ever since governments began, a fine line was drawn between charging people and alienating them. If the government really wanted to deter parents it would have raised fines to a level that exceeded holiday savings. That it didn’t suggests it has pandered to school leaders but not by enough to upset parents. In doing so it has slightly annoyed both.

It will be interesting to see the results of the survey by The Key next time to see whether parents have done what school leaders suspect they will do. Early signs are that they will.

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