Branson backs calls to let parents take children out of school for term-time holidays

Virgin empire entrepreneur says ‘my happiest memories are of childhood holidays – some term-time, some not’

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Richard Branson has called for the Government to make it easier for parents to take their children on holiday during school term-time.

Giving his backing to the campaign of mother Janice Skelcher, the billionaire entrepreneur said children “may well learn more [on family holidays] than they ever could in a classroom”.

Since laws surrounding term-time holidays were toughened in September last year, head teachers are only allowed to give permission for children to miss school in “exceptional circumstances”.

A court ruled that was not the case for Ms Skelcher and her husband who, according to their petition to the House of Commons, were given a 12-month conditional discharge and fined £400 for “protecting the mental health of her children by taking them for a break”.

Branson wrote on his blog that the mother from Coventry’s circumstances – that she was “caring for her mother who was terminally ill” and could not arrange for alternative care at another time – were “not taken into account”.

Her family’s appearance before the courts comes as the latest high-profile term-time holiday case, and the debate will be fuelled further by Branson’s intervention.

“It is really important that kids spend as much time travelling and learning as possible, from a young age,” Branson said.

“Letting children travel provides the opportunity for families to spend quality time with each other, something I have always found invaluable with my own family. Some of my happiest memories are of childhood holidays – some during term-time, some not.

“If your holiday has to be in term-time, so be it – just ensure children get the chance to travel. They may well learn more than they ever could in a classroom.”