Letter: Out of school

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YOU REPORT that the National Association of Head Teachers is calling for legislation to outlaw parents from taking cheap term-time holidays ("Headteachers attack parents over truancy", 25 March).

Unfortunately, for many lone-parent families, and others on low incomes, this will mean outlawing holidays altogether. According to recent research ("Small Fortunes: Spending on Children in Lone Parent Families", Middleton and Ashworth) lone parents manage to maintain spending on many essential household budget items by spending 40 per cent less on holidays on average than two-parent families. Special arrangements made with travel and holiday firms tend to specify that the holidays should be taken at non-peak times - outside usual school holidays.

Holidays are a vital part of a child's life. They contribute to their wellbeing and enable them to experience some variety in their surroundings and activities. They can hardly be put into the same category as truancy or a lax attitude to education.

MARGARET CREEAR

Policy Officer

Gingerbread

London EC1

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