Record number of parents ignoring fines and booking term-time holidays

Parents are increasingly risking fines and taking their children out of school to enjoy family holidays, according to the latest figures. Those supporting the ban on taking children out school argue absences can affect education but those against state quality family time is important too and the occasional absences should be at the discretion of the parent.

According to statistics from the Department of Education, around one in 13 pupils missed at least half a day that was unauthorised during the autumn and spring terms in 2015/16. While the biggest reason for taking time off was illness, one in 20 missed days were the result of a holiday, the figure represents a 5 year high. Despite the number of families choosing to take a holiday during term time, overall absence figures and persistent absentees, those that miss more than 10% of classroom periods, declined.

Previously authorising holidays during school time was at the discretion of head teachers but in 2013 the then education secretary Michael Gove introduced changes. The new rules meant heads could only grant authorised absences in ‘exceptional circumstance’ and parents can face a £60 fine for taking their children out of school. However, many local councils have chosen not to impose fines and in some cases fines have been overturned in favour of the parents in court. The fact that fines are not being upheld could be a contributing factor to the increase in unauthorised absences.

Even with the potential fines posed, many families still opt for term-time holidays due to the price hike on everything from flights to attractions when children are off school, especially during the summer holidays. For some parents getting time off work during the holidays can be a problem too as other parents are competing for the same time to book their holidays off. But can term-time holidays affect education?

For their part, research suggests that the majority of teachers don’t understand the ban on term-time holidays. In a survey almost three quarters of teachers indicated they didn’t agree with the rules and two thirds didn’t think missing school for a family holiday had a detrimental impact on the learning of primary school aged children.

What do you think about the increase in unauthorised absences, should children take time off for family holidays? Let us know your thoughts on our forum


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