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Five million school days are lost due to holidays during term-time

Some parents say they would rather accept a school fine and make a saving on family holidays

Joanna Whitehead
Friday 17 March 2023 12:39 GMT
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<p>The number of parents taking their children out of school for term-time holidays has been rising</p>

The number of parents taking their children out of school for term-time holidays has been rising

More than five million school days were lost in 2022 as a results of parents taking their children out of school for term-time holidays, it has been reported.

Analysis of new Department for Education (DfE) data shows that 5,148,548 school days were lost due to “unauthorised term-time holidays” in the 2021/22 academic year.

This compares with 3,651,978 days lost during the 2015/16 academic year due to parents removing their children for term-time holidays.

According to the Daily Mail, primary school children were more than twice as likely to be removed from school for a term-time holiday than their secondary counterparts.

Frank Young, editorial director at the Civitas think-tank, which analysed the data, said: “Too many parents aren’t taking school seriously. Even missing a day or two has an impact.

“It is worrying that the youngest primary school children are most likely to miss school just as they are learning to read and write. Ministers will need to get a grip of this as they urgently review truancy measures later this year.”

According to official government legislation, parents or guardians must get permission from the headteacher if they wish to take their child out of school during term-time.

Such requests must be made in advance and only in exceptional circumstances. These rarely include family holidays.

Parents can face a fine of up to £2,500, a community order or a jail sentence of up to three months for repeatedly failing to enforce a child’s attendance at school.

Despite this, parents are continuing to book holidays during term-time in a bid to beat price hikes introduced during peak times, such as school holidays.

A January study found that over a third of parents admitted they would rather cut costs by taking their family holiday during term-time and simply accept and pay the fine this incurs.

Research by Holiday Extras found that one in 10 parents polled had already booked to take their family away before the school holidays, with a further 29 per cent saying they would likely follow suit.

Analysis by the brand found that breaks during term-time are on average 28 per cent cheaper than going away during the school summer holidays.

Hugo Loudon, chief financial officer at Holiday Extras said: “As the cost of living crisis continues, our research shows that some people will start turning to extreme solutions rather than give up their main family holiday.

“But there are probably better ways of saving on a family holiday than booking it in term-time, with the risk of sanctions and fines that brings. Picking a cheaper destination will make the most difference. Booking all-inclusive in advance helps budget a holiday, and also safeguards your budget from inflation.

“And booking your holiday and holiday extras as far in advance as possible can make a big difference too – last year UK holidaymakers wasted £100m paying for parking on the gate rather than booking in advance, so make sure you book your extras as soon as you book your trip.”

A DfE spokesman said: “The vast majority of children are in school and learning.

“We work closely with schools, trusts, governing bodies and local authorities to identify pupils who are at risk of becoming or who are persistently absent and to support those children to return to regular education.”

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