Holidays in Term Time

Almost half of parents say they are more likely to take children on holiday during term time.

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Research by car insurance firm Esure found that 65% of parents are confused about the legality of term-time holidays after senior judges supported the ruling that Jon Platt had no case to answer since his daughter is almost always present in school during the rest of the school year.

Schools Minister, Nick Gibb said the Government will do “everything in its power” to make sure that headteachers are able to keep children in school.

He invited Isle of Wight Council to reappear in court to appeal against the decision, and has promised Department of Education (DfE) funding and legal counsel for the application in either the High Court or Supreme Court.

A survey of 562 parents for Esure found 46% are either ‘more likely’ or ‘likely’ to book a family holiday in term time after the High Court ruling, with the outcomes proposing that 1.7 million or 21% planned to do so in the next year alone.

However, figures released by councils in reponse to Freedom of Information (FoI) show that they are issuing a rising number of fines to parents who take their children out of school without consent.

More than 47,157 parents were fined during the 2013/14 academic year, increasing to 74,278 in 2014/15.

A large number of local education authorities said they were stern about fining parents except for North Tyneside Council, Milton Keynes Council, Warrington Borough Council and the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, who suggested they were more lenient, Esure said.

Nikki Sellers, head of travel insurance at Esure said: “It’s no wonder parents are feeling confused when they’re finding themselves hearing contradictory messages. On one hand, they see a father told that he was allowed to take his child on holiday, while some local councils are still enforcing fines on those who do this.

“The difference in cost for taking a family trip away during the school holidays versus during term-time is huge, so it’s hardly surprising that they’re willing to risk a £60 fine.”

Mr Gibb said: “We are clear – children should not be taken out of school during term except in exceptional circumstances. There should be no confusion on this point. We know the recent High Court judgment has created some uncertainty for parents, which is why it is essential that the ruling is clarified through the appeal.

“The evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chance of gaining good GCSEs which has a lasting effect on their life chances. Unauthorised absence during term time doesn’t just have an impact on the child’s education, but also on teachers and other children.

“While family holidays are enriching experiences, the school year is designed to give families the opportunity for these breaks without having to disrupt their children’s education.”

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