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9 reasons I will continue to take my children on holiday during term time


I posted over on my Facebook page last week that I was very disappointed with the Supreme Court ruling that it was unlawful for parents to take their children out of school to go on holiday. I just don't see the point in criminalising parents and putting up extra barriers between home and school. To me, this ruling is not in the best interest of my children and I will continue to take them on holiday during term time.



1 - They are my children

First of all, they are my children. I am a strong believer in parental choice and minimal state interference. I know what is best for my children and I don't believe we should be dictated to by the government when we can and cannot go on holiday. Honestly, what's next? I dread to think.

2 - Cost of holidays

I have mentioned that I really want to take the children to Mexico next year. Steve and I have travelled to Mexico twice and have always said we want to take the children one day. I can't wait to show them Chichen Itza which is one of the 7 wonders of the world and in my opinion a lot safer to travel to than the pyramids in Egypt. To visit over Easter or in the 6 weeks holidays, it would cost us around £7000. To travel in December (and out of hurricane season), the same trip would cost us £3500. There is no way I can justify spending £7k on a holiday. I can barely justify £3500. There is an argument that if you can't afford it then you shouldn't go, but why should I deny my children of this experience? We are a very hard working family and deserve a break.

Even camping shoots up in price in the summer holidays. Most of the sites we have looked at are £50-£70 per night during peak season compared with £20 ish per night off peak.

3 - Travel is an education

In my opinion, the government are far too focused on testing children and forcing kids to sit in a classroom and recite number bonds and spellings. To me, education goes far beyond that of the classroom. Travel is an enriching experience and I believe the kids will learn far more through experience and mixing with other cultures than they ever will sitting in a classroom.

4 - It did me no harm

I went on term time holidays pretty much every year when I was at school. I even went on holiday during the week before my SATs and enjoyed a 10 day trip to Spain just 3 weeks before my GCSEs. Do you know what happened? I received the highest SAT scores in my class and 12 x grade As at GCSE. I took work with me and don't believe the holiday did my grades any harm at all. My three children spent a week out of school during our trip to Spain last year and managed to catch up. Children's brains absorb information quickly. Children often have to take a week or two off school due to illness and the same applies - I just don't believe it's detrimental to their education. They don't suddenly start failing at life because they miss a few days in the classroom. I quite like the American system where children are allowed to go on holiday but need to take their work with them. This would work well for us I think.

5 - It's double standards

Families who home educate are not monitored at all. They can go on holiday whenever they please and are never checked up on. Families who can afford to send their children to a private school are also exempt. Why do the government enforce their rules and think they should apply to some children but not others? Surely if they feel so strongly about this issue (strongly enough that it's a criminal offence), it should apply to all children? Why are some children's education deemed more important than others?

Many schools close for teacher training days during term time and if their school is being used as a polling station. Why are these deemed as an important reason to miss education but a holiday is not?

Finally, most schools will take your children on residential school trips. Most of these trips cover the same sort of things we do on holiday - camping, visiting London ect..... some even include things like a trip to a theme park which isn't necessarily what you'd think to be educational (although I can see the benefit). Why is it ok for schools to take our children on these experiences during term time but not parents?

6 - Life isn't all about education

Since when did life start being all about education? Yes, it's important but to me, a happy child who has been nurtured at home and grows up surrounded by love will grow up to be a much more successful and well-rounded adult. Life isn't all about your ability to pass a test.

There is SO much more to life than being academic and there's a big wide world out there for the next generation to discover. To me, this is super important and equally as important as gaining good grades.

7 - Paying the fine is cheaper

Although you are breaking the law if you take your children out of school which I know won't be for everyone, not all schools and LEA's issue a fine and if they do, £60 is still a lot cheaper than the £3500 saving I'll be making on my holiday.

8 - I don't believe their education will suffer

I believe if parents are savvy about when they take their children out of school, there will be no risk to their grades. For example in December, a lot of school time is taken up with Christmas crafts and school play rehearsals. I know there will be some learning still but if parents liaise with schools they can plan better and plan not to take their children out at key times.

9 - Have the government not got anything better to do? 

Seriously, have the government not got anything better to do? Why spend precious money and resources on fighting this unpopular battle with parents? They should be focusing their efforts on the school funding crisis and ending child poverty rather than going after hard working families who deserve a bit of slack!

Because taking your children out of school is a criminal offence, this immediately puts a barrier up between parents and school and I've known my own friends to tell lies to their child's school about holiday plans. This is what it has come to! We are teaching our children that lying is ok and parents are often too scared to have a conversation about holidays with school. Sad times indeed!

I'm a bit of a rebel and if we do end up booking a trip to Mexico next year, it will probably be in December for 7 nights during term time. If I get fined, I'll just suck it up and pay. Despite being strongly opposed, I don't want to end up in jail! I am a sensible parent - I think most of us are! As long as we don't take the mick and start taking our children on holiday during their GCSE exams or every other week, I don't feel like there's a problem. As the children grow older, I don't think I'll continue to do this as I know they are put under a lot of stress in High School anyway, but whilst they are still in Primary school, I'll continue as I am.



Here are my solutions:

1 - Staggered school terms

The North East could have different terms to the North West maybe? Our school holidays could be in July and the North West's could be in August? We could take the two weeks before Easter off and the North West could take the two weeks after? This would help the issue of expensive school holiday prices I think.

2 - Allow 5 days authorised absence

I think it would be helpful if at the beginning of the year, school could send out a timetable and block off key exam/learning times where authorised absence was not allowed but then maybe highlight when absence would have less of an impact (Christmas week and the last week of the year for example). This would help parents minimise any catch up time. I don't believe this would suddenly result in an influx of term time holidays but do think it would help some parents out.

3 - Flexi schooling

I've looked into flexi schooling quite a bit and love the concept. It's kind of a cross between homeschooling and traditional schooling. For families who travel quite a bit, this is worth looking into.

4 - Home schooling

I know of a few parents who have taken their children out of the education system altogether because they're unhappy with the government's attitude to targets and testing. Many parents (myself included) want a more holistic and child-centred approach to their child's learning and for many, home-schooling is the only way to do this. Homeschooling isn't for me but I can certainly see the appeal - especially when it comes to travel.


What do you think? Has the Supreme Court ruling changed how you feel about taking your children on holiday during term time?

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9 reasons I will continue to take my children on holiday during term time

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24 comments

  1. Yes!!! I agree so much with everything you've said here. Especially when children are in primary school, they aren't really missing a lot! I really want to take the boys on a cruise at some point and there is no way we could afford it in the summer holidays, so I suspect once we've saved enough we'll be paying a fine too. Travel and life experiences are way more valuable than learning ridiculous grammar rules that even I don't understand.
    Stevie x

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  2. At work we allow special leave in certain circumstances so I don't understand why a school would be different. I have colleagues who have had to get letters of authorisation from the Managers (in an emergency service) so they can prove that they can't take time off during school holidays because of operational pressures so they can have some time with their children at other times of the year. I don't think it is fair and I would also just pay the fine.

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  3. Great article Sam, my little one is only 18 months so it's not something I have to worry about just yet but I agree with your points totally. I don't think anything is going to change unfortunately though, I really feel for parents with more than one child who have multiple fines to pay and think the travel industry should at least discount child prices further, as a single parent my little one once he is two will nearly always pay the same price as an adult.

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  4. High Five!

    Totally agree, I'm a total bohemian parent and do what I want anyway (and have fabulous children) and I couldn't give 2 hoots what the government say, travel is so educational and a unique opportunity to experience other cultures.

    I'm quite lucky in that the Catholic school my daughters attend don't fine pupils and still allow 2 weeks off if they have a good attendance level but I realise these schools are few and far between now!

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  5. I absolutely agree with everything you have said. I think as long as a child's attendance is high, why should they be stopped. Teachers don't think twice about taking holiday time during term time. We have had 2 points during this past school year where my sons teachers have been off as a result of holidays. One got married so was on her honeymoon, and another decided that this was an appropriate time to take a holiday. Why is it okay for them to do this, but parents are punished for it? We have a holiday booked during term time this year because it was going to cost us nearly £800 more to do it through the summer. My son will be taking work with him, but the value of the things he will see - Mount Versuvious, Herculaneum, Pompeii, Rome etc, will far outweigh sitting in school for a week and a bit learning about fractions. I absolutely think this needs to be changed. After all, I bought him into this world and I know what is best for him much better than some dusty politician sleeping through debates at Westminster!

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    1. The Headteacher and Governors are at fault there. In all my years of Teaching I have never worked with or known of a staff member who has been granted leave of absence for a holiday. My current head ummmed and ahhhed over a day off to attend my Aunt's funeral. If Teachers taking time off to go on holiday in term time concerns you (it would concern me) I would write to your LEA or the Governors.

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  6. We're not affected by school holidays until September so this is not something I have first hand experience of yet, but I agree with everything you've said. I think the odd week once a year is going to make little difference, especially when you know the kids are winding down towards the end of term. It's a great shame that this is now illegal as it stigmatises what should be an important part of children's extra-curricular learning and valuable family time. The main problem with absence from schools is children who have days off every week, not the ones who take planned leave for holidays.

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  7. I agree entirely. I went abroad for 2 weeks every year in term time and went on to higher education. I can't remember a great deal of special school memories but I remember something from All of my holidays with great love and a great appreciation of that time spent with my parents. Also to holiday abroad in the 6 weeks it too hot for children. A friend's school pools all 4 teacher training days together and adds on to the May half term so families can go away then without being penalised by either the LEA or the holiday companies. Why not find a middle ground and grant 5 or 10 days leave a year and keep everyone happy. It really does put a barrier up between parents and schools when it's not the schools judgement. I will not lie about taking my children on holiday but many believe it has come to this and it's just all wrong the way this situation has manifested. Change needs to be brought to benefit bothe sides, do the government really believe we want our kids education to suffer??

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  8. As usual I agree with you! We are GCSE twins - I got 12 A* and 2As. We always have so much in common. I think your approach is sensible. I think this is purely a money making scheme for the government. Imagine if they raised taxes, there would be outrage but this is a way they can stealth do it in a roundabout way. Most parents paying these fines. It's ridiculous. I was so disappointed the Supreme Court went back on the High Court decision. Like you say, the schools can take them on trips so why not us. Family time is so important. Not everyone can get holidays from work in school holidays. I like your idea of the schools allowing 5 days and having periods where you can't take it but that flexibility elsewhere. I don't know why they can't compromise. It makes me mad.

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  9. Great article Sam. I have, and will continue to take the girls out for holidays. We took them out 2 years ago for 2 weeks to Florida and have had the odd day here and there for long weekends away. Our school do not fine. Travel is an enriching and rewarding experience. I would worry a bit as they get older though with GCSE and A Level pressures but that's a long way off.

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  10. The government are working on the assumption that parents can take time off from work in the school holidays. Why should I be denied precious family time, purely because of the industry I work in?

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  11. The government also assume that all parents can take their holiday time during school holidays. This is not the case , therefore, many families do not get a chance to spend quality time together as they are working when their children are off school and vise versa. I see no problem at all in children taking time out of school to spend quality time with their parents. This government should take a leaf out of other European countries. Children do not start formal education until they are 7 years old....and guess what? They are not behind our children academically or otherwise , in fact, quite the reverse!

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  12. Yes! I agree with every word - this is the first year we've faced school holidays and as she's not yet five, I persuaded the school to let us take a week off. We have nothing else planned but I simply can't imagine never doing it again...

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  13. Playing Devil's Advocate as I'm looking at this from a different point of view as a teacher. I absolutely agree with most of what you've said, it's ridiculous that it's got to the stage that they're fining and jailing people. However, I do see the predicament the government are in. If they allowed everybody to take holidays during term time then our classrooms would be chaotic (maybe slightly exaggerated). Each time a child is out of the class for whatever reason, it is my responsibility to close the gap and help that child to catch up. Usually, this is at the detriment of other children as either myself or support staff (in the rare circumstances that I have support) need to devote time to the child which means taking ourselves away from planned support (which is often children with additional needs). It's not an option to just miss that chunk of learning out as we teach in weekly blocks and build on prior learning so if they've missed one block, they won't understand the next block (I hope that makes sense). It would be great if every parent was like you and got their child to do work whilst away but unfortunately not everybody is.
    If I'm truely honest though, I'm sat on the fence with this one! I just thought I would add an additional thought :-) Also, I think the staggered school terms is a great idea. Some Academies already do this but I think state schools should get onboard too! (Obviously have my own agenda for this as I am not entitled to holidays in term time either so would love this! Haha)

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  14. Great post and SO true about the teacher training days for polling stations and school trips!!!!

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  15. How rude about Primary schools - this just shows how little people know about what we do as teachers in primary schools. Honestly, some children don't suffer by missing school for a holiday but the majority do especially if they are yearly offenders. Also, some families holiday are educational but at lot aren't or family time as the children are left in holiday clubs most of the time or where they go is just an English version of a foreign country. Would you ever think about keeping your child off for 14 weeks in a primary school year? Because that's what 2 weeks a year equals.

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  16. Our school bolts on the teacher training days around May half term which gives the kids an extra week off. My only problem is that the teens school don't follow suit and we would have to leave him at home. The main problem is we share our summer break with the whole of Europe which is was pushes the prices up, like you I would like to see staggered holidays and I would also like to see a shorter summer break - 6 weeks is far too long and it's not like the kids help with harvest in this day and age. Extend the half terms by a week each and I am sure the system will be a lot fairer!

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  17. I wrote a long reply then deleted it. What an irresponsible attitude to have. Clearly written by someone who has no idea of the education system. There are so many flaws in your arguments as to be laughable. I will mention just one. The training days you talk of are a legal requirement set by the government for all schools. These days were added to the teachers' working year a long time ago. The number of days that the children are required to attend school have not changed. The teachers lost out not the children in time taught.

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  18. As a primry teacher I couldnt agree with you more. It really annoys me how schools don't see holidays as part of a child's education. My eldest is in Reception and we go away for a week a year in term time and will continue to do so.

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  19. Nope afraid I couldn't disagree more. The thing I think you've missed is that this is not about you. It's about the school, the teachers and other pupils. it's about the disruption that it would cause if every child in the class just took time off whenever they want. It's about your child's teacher having to waste time getting those kids up to speed when they've missed a couple of weeks of lessons because you fancy it. Then multiply that problem x30 because you've just made it acceptable for every other family to do exactly the same thing whenever they want.

    You are probably right that you know what's best for you children. It's not about your kids; it's about every other kid in the class and the way the school operates.

    Agree on the staggered holidays though. They do that in France so why not here?

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  20. I'm a Secondary Teacher. I understand I'm a bit of a lone voice here but please hear me out. I agree that Private schools should come under the same rules, however, I believe the thinking is that a £60 fine is not much of a punishment to the majority of parents who are able to send thier students to such schools. As an interesting aside the Teachers in private schools have exactly the same qualifications and experience as the Teachers in state schools...in fact you don't need a Teaching qualification to teach in a private school. Anyway, I digress.

    Homeschooling, if I'm honest, is abused in my part of the country and it should be better regulated.

    Here's my main point. Please see things from the Teachers' point of view. At Primary the last week is often winding down time. I work in a Secondary and this doesn't happen. Lessons continue as normal right up until the bell goes at 3:30pm. Your point about trips is a little misguided, if I know top set pathway are out visiting a Roman Fort next Wednesday or 10 of my bottom set are out with Geography on Monday afternoon I can plan for that. However it is much more difficult to ensure that the one Year 10 child who's gone on holiday for 2 weeks (missing 5 hours of your lesson and 10 of Maths and 10 hours of English) is up to date and has all the right assessments in all the right places. The exam boards of many subjects require assessments in years 9, 10 and 11 to run for 5 hours concurrently...if staffing is set for ot to run 2 weeks before Easter and you go on holiday...how is your child going to make that vital 5 hours up? That 5 hours could be 30% of an overall GCSE grade. The time these assessments take place is beyond our control, with the best will in the world state Secondaries simply don't have the staff to ensure that one child out of 270 in thier year has five hours in exam conditions alone. But we have to, to give that Student the best opportunity and it's difficult, not only for us but the Students too.

    I have seen the anxiety in a student's eyes when they have missed a controlled assessment and they know it's going to impact other subjects and lessons, falling further behind.

    I have no choice but to run strict deadlines with my GCSE classess, seeing them for 5 hours a fortnight is tough and if one of them goes on holiday it's a logistical nightmare.

    I appriciate your situation, but there's many Teacher parents in the country who come under the same conditions and have no choice but to take more exspensive term time holidays.

    One last point. Training days. They are actually used for vital CPD. Such as first aid or preparing for special educational needs. We also have CPD after school, every week and twilight until 6pm one a month. This will be a similar set up for the majority of Teachers. CPD days are an 80s invention and are nothing new. Our head actually tags them on to holidays so parents can get slightly cheaper flights should they be planning to go away.

    I don't think children should be denied holidays abroad and obviously getting time off can be difficult but I do think that sometimes, this argument comes off as 'Holidays are a right'. I believe holidays to be a privilege, a privilege not many of my students get as their parents struggle to feed and clothe them. There are other, less disruptive ways to spend time as a family.

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  21. So what about the Teachers/Teaching Assistants..they cant take a week off and pull their children out of school.theyd get sacked. Im all for quality family time and yes the prices are ridiculous in july/august but some people have no other choice....if you changed term time the holiday companies would still hike up the prices so its a NO win situation... personally Id just pay the fine....

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  22. If my kids were still of school age I would be following your common sense advice, Sam. We took our boys out of primary school very occasionally in term time. It hasn't affected them in any negative way. In fact I think it all added to their lust for life and adventure. They both did well at school and in further education and are now well rounded adults so I wouldn't accept any other opinion on any negative effects from the government or otherwise!! Xo

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  23. I completely agree and will continue to take my children out of school for family holidays. There will always be an exception to the rule but I believe that most parents would be sensible about the number of days and holidays they took throughout the year if they were given the option.

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I always love reading your thoughts and comments - Sam x

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