Parents encourage truancy for cheaper holidays

familyIt seems parents are a no-win situation when it comes to family holidays – pay extortionate peak summer rates or take the kids out of school and face the wrath of angry head teachers.

As the recession bites, 24,000 pupils miss school every day as parents opt for cheaper term-time trips – and many don't seek permission.
Parents are fuelling truancy rates by taking their children out of school for cut-price holidays, according to official figures from the Department for Education which show 4.5million days of schooling are missed each year for this reason alone.

While many mums and dads feel that they have little choice when holiday companies hike prices during school breaks, schools minister Nick Gibb jumped into the debate yesterday by criticising the attitude of some parents.

He said: "Term-time holidays are all too often seen as the rule when it should be the exception and so we back head teachers in taking a strong stance against allowing them. Over the coming months we will be giving stronger powers to schools to send a clear message to pupils and parents that persistent absence is unacceptable."

While head teachers 'reluctantly' allow some parents to take their child out of school, the figures found 29% of families remove their child without the permission of their school. Interestingly, while this move puts parents at risk of £100 fines, anecdotal evidence suggests many are prepared to accept the fine as it is outweighed by the savings of taking a term-time holiday. Many term time packages are half the price of premium school holiday rates.

Mr Gibb added: "Whilst it is understandable that hard-working parents might be enticed by cheaper term-time holidays, it is important to realise the impact a term-time holiday can have on their child's education. Missing a day or two of school can leave children, particularly younger children, struggling to catch up with their work."

The Daily Mail reports that Russell Hobby, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "We empathise with parents about the eyewatering cost of peak-time holidays. But education is so important. Head teachers are desperately reluctant to see youngsters miss classes for holidays."
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