Are you taking your child out of school for a holiday?
PUBLISHED: 15:00 06 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:11 06 January 2020
Following a report that almost one in 10 pupils miss school for unauthorised holidays, we asked whether you would risk a fine to take your children out of school without permission. Here's what you told us.
The children are back to school after the Christmas break, and it's the time of year when, traditionally, thoughts turn to booking summer breaks.
But according to the latest figures released by the Department for Education (DfE), almost one in 10 children miss lessons without the school's permission to go on holiday.
Across two terms in the last academic year, more than 630,000 youngsters were taken out for an unauthorised family trip.
Term-time holidays have been in the spotlight since a government crackdown on school absence in 2013.
Parents can be fined £60 if their child misses school without permission. This rises to £120 if it is not paid within 21 days and parents who fail to pay can be prosecuted.
But it seems that with family finances under pressure from rising food and rent or mortgage costs, the lure of a cheaper out-of-season holiday can prove too good an opportunity to miss.
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The government's figures show that in the autumn term of 2018 and the spring term of 2019, 631,108 pupils in England had one or more sessions (half a day) of unauthorised absence due to family holidays.
There were 7,057,021 pupils on school rolls during these terms - meaning that around nine percent (8.9%) missed at least half a day of lessons due to unauthorised trips.
We asked for your views - and this is what you told us.
"There are many reasons why a family might take a child out during term time," said Hannah Thomas. "Military families, for example, where a parent is absent on deployments for extended periods of time and they have to take any holidays around that person actually being home. Or families that have members abroad and the only way to celebrate important family milestones is to travel. It's not always about just saving money on a jolly, and that's why blanket policies on attendance can be harmful. Education is important, but families and time together is important too. Heads of schools should have leeway to allow what is reasonable and obviously to take action in cases of truancy, but criminalising parents for taking a child out of school during term time helps no one."
Debi Bond told us that she took her daughter out of school for a holiday, but took steps to ensure it had educational elements. "When my daughter was six, we saved £2,000 - we wouldn't have been able to afford to go in holiday time. At that age her teaching was mainly reading and some maths, we read every day, took maths homework the school set for us and also did a wildlife project while we were there so she had a full book of work to hand in when she got back. Now she's older and heading towards SATs tests we would be less likely to."
Rowena Kerslake, who works in the tourism industry, says that she thinks that holiday companies should price more consistently throughout the year so that the price stays the same in the school holidays.
"I don't think parents should take children out of school - we had four kids and always managed to go during school holidays, despite not being well off. We had to save hard. We run a holiday let in Suffolk and our promise to our guests is that they will never pay more just because it's a school holiday. We do charge more during summer months than winter but it's never based on school holidays. I don't think headteachers should be put in the awkward place of judge and jury - they should be able to build positive relationships with their parents and children. But parents shouldn't expect to take children out of school - they have 12 weeks to choose from."
What do you think? Would you take your children out of school for a break? Have you done so to save money? Are you a teacher who has found term time holidays have had an impact on your classroom? Email us