Thousands of parents opt to take children out of school for holidays to avoid rip-off summer prices
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Thousands of children have been missing out of classes after their parents opted for cheaper term time holidays. Data from the Department of Education shows that nearly three million school days were missed in the 2022 summer term, which were classed as unauthorised holidays.
Pupil attendance data from the Department of Education figures showed that there was a 12.5 percent increase from the same period in 2019, which was the last summer before the Covid pandemic closed schools and stopped international travel.
School leaders have blamed the cost of living crisis which is increasing food prices, bills and mortgage rates as a potential factor for people looking to take their children on holiday during term time. Head teachers are calling on the government to intervene on “rip-off” prices for holidays during the summer break, whilst adding that children should not be missing lessons.
However, parents have argued that taking their children on holiday is no different from the current teacher strikes which have seen pupils miss 11 days of teaching this year alone. Parents can be fined £60 for unauthorised school absences which rises to £120 if the fine is not paid in 21 days.
The rules may vary between local councils, with some areas charging a fine per child and others fining each parent for each child. One mum on TikTok took to her social media page to explain why she chooses to take her children out of school during term time.
Jo, from Essex, who runs the TikTok account Jos_unfiltered_life shared a video explaining how she takes her children on holiday outside of the school breaks. The social media creator shared that in her area the rule is “£60 per week, per child, per parent” and said: “where there is two of us, we pay £120 a week, so that’s £240 for two weeks to take him [her son] away, which still saves us almost £1000 from what it would do if we went in like end of July/August.”
Jo explained to her 910k thousand followers her family have always chosen term time holidays as they are “so much cheaper” than paying summer break travel fares. The social media creator said term time holidays were her “go to choice” and explained her children would be having: “new experiences” as well as seeing different cultures and people when discussing the controversy around taking children out of the classroom.
Almost half a million extra school days were taken off last summer, compared to summer 2019. These were classed as unauthorised term time holidays, as parents chose to risk fines by taking their children away during term time.
According to the i newspaper this could amount to as many as 90,000 extra children being taken out of schools for holidays. A Department for Education spokesperson told the i: “We know that regular school attendance is vital for a child’s education, wellbeing and future life chances. That is why we’ve expanded our attendance hubs and mentoring programmes – to ensure children have the best chance of receiving a high-quality education.
“Parents have a duty to make sure their child regularly attends school. Our guidance is clear that they should plan their holidays around school breaks and avoid seeking permission from schools to take their children out of school during term time unless it is absolutely unavoidable.”