Cost of holidays make parents break rules

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A survey by LV travel insurance has found that more than half of parents in England admit having taken a child on holiday during term time.

The cost of holidays and difficulties getting time off work during peak times were the main reasons given by parents for breaking the rules. The survey showed 43% of parents believed the cost of a fine was outweighed by the savings made by booking an off-peak holiday.

However, one in five parents said they had sought their school's permission for a term-time holiday and been refused, and one in eight admitted lying in order take their children out of school for a holiday.

More than 32,600 penalty notices for school absence were issued to parents last year, and more than 127,000 have been issued since the scheme was introduced in 2004.

Under current rules. if the fine is not paid after 42 days, the school or local authority has to withdraw the penalty notice, with the only further option being for local authorities to prosecute parents for the offence.

A DfE spokeswoman said: "Each request can only be judged on a case-by-case basis, but it is entirely at the head teacher's discretion, and is not a parental right."

The most common excuses included pretending their child was:

  • sick (35%)
  • visiting sick relatives (20%),
  • a family wedding (18%) and
  • a trip for educational purposes (16%).

More than half of those surveyed said they took their children out of school for a holiday because it was cheaper, with a third saying they could not afford a break during the school holidays.

A quarter said that they, or their partner, could not get time off work during school holidays.

Just under half said they would take their child out of class for a week, while 30% said their holiday would be shorter than this.

Selwyn Fernandes, managing director of LV travel insurance, said: "The difference in price for taking a trip during the school holidays and during term time is huge. It's not surprising that many parents were willing to risk a fine when they can save 10 times that by holidaying outside of the peak season."

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