Due to the tens of thousands of parents who took their children out of school during term-time for a cheap holiday, in 2013 the government decided to do something about. Under the direction of the then Secretary of State, Michael Gove – the Department of Education introduced a fine system, however, it has not worked.
Over the past three years, a total of £24m in fines has been issued to parents who ignored the rules regarding taking children out of school. But, it seems parents are not concerned about being issued with a £60 per child fine, especially when they can save on average around £500.
During our research where we spoke to one hundred parents, we found that the £60 fine which can increase to £120 if left unpaid for 21 days is no deterrent. In fact, we found that parents are including the fine as part of the cost of a holiday. 85 per cent of the parents we spoke to said they were not worried about being issued with a fine especially when they can save money.
Many travel experts have called on the government to tackle the travel industry to make holidays more affordable when children are off school. However, some head teachers have called on the government to do more to tackle the growing problem of children missing school while some teachers have said going abroad can be educational.
Carol Smillie, a television presenter revealed to In2town that she thinks children can learn more out of the classroom at a younger age while on holiday than in it. However, she did agree that it was important for older children to stay in school especially if they are studying for their exams.
Campaigners have warned that parents have no problem paying a fine in order to save money on a family holiday.
Craig Langman, of the group Parents Want A Say, explained: “For those who can afford it, they will factor in the fine to the price of the holiday and they are still saving a fortune.”
According to official reports, 8.9 million days in unauthorised absence were recorded during the autumn and spring terms of the last academic year, this figure is up from 7.4 million the previous year.
Parents are calling on the government to come up with a sensible solution that will benefit all, allowing parents to achieve a cheaper holiday without the fear of being issued with a fine. One of those options is to either change the holiday dates around the country where each part of the country has a different date for school holidays, or for action to be taken against travel companies over their price increases.
By Diane Walker