Recent changes to the UK law which came into force on September 1st, 2013 could see parents being fined up to £120 for taking their children on holiday during term time. Parents all over the UK are up in arms about this development, with campaigners claiming many families cannot afford the extortionate costs of holidaying during the school holidays. Parents feel so strongly about this subject that an online petition on the 38-Degrees Campaigns By You website has attracted more than 126,000 signatures to deliver to the Department of Education.
In the past, head teachers were able to grant each child up to 10 days’ leave per year for family holidays in “special circumstances” – however the 10 day limit has now been removed, leaving many families wondering if they will be able to take their kids abroad in future.
With the cost of holidays during school breaks rising on an annual basis, this ruling means that only the children of the well off will be able to enjoy the benefits (and opportunities) of spending quality time on holiday with their parents. Many parents are unable to afford to pay the premium prices charged by travel companies during the school holidays and resort to having to take their kids out of school in order to enjoy a family holiday.
The Department of Education is countering any arguments by allowing schools to set their own term dates, saying “We want schools to consider changes to term dates that will work for their pupils and their families”. However, parents also have to consider taking time off work and many companies (and local authority employers) operate policies that limit the amount of time off that staff are allowed to take at certain times of the year.
Parents who struggle with the logistics of both being able to take time off at the same time now face further limits that may mean that a traditional family holiday is a thing of the past. Most parents understand how important education and regular school attendance is for their children. However, a family holiday is not only a great time for parents to bond with their kids and enjoy some fun; it can also be a great way of teaching kids stuff that they just don’t learn in school. Experiencing other cultures and ways of life is an important part of any child’s education and many parents provide these experiences by taking their kids overseas on holidays.
Moreover, there are many kids in the UK with family living abroad and visiting during term time may be the only option the parents have of providing this vital contact with relatives. Some parents are even talking about moving overseas as a result of the new ruling – which means that their kids’ education will be interrupted as they join a new educational system in a different country (and often in a different language). This would be far more disruptive to the child’s education than taking a two week break during term time.