Holiday during school time, worthy of a fine?

Holidays during school time via Toby & Roo

As a blogger there are certain opportunities that come up from time to time where I am lucky enough to be offered a chance to take the family away or on a day trip of some fashion. Consider it a perk of the job, but with it comes a certain date and time frame, just like any other job. More often than not a client would ask you to take the opportunity during a less busy period for them – it makes sense and often gives you more chance to enjoy the holiday or day trip without a huge amount of crowds whilst you are trying to grab photos.

This means taking holiday during school time.

Now, it is by no means a “blogger thing”, rather a parent thing, but it’s one that really grinds my gears. Earlier in the year we took Reuben out of school for a family trip to Center Parcs. I have to say Reuben’s school seem to be excellent with regards to holiday, especially when I compare their attitude towards friend’s schools. Still, regulations are regulations and we put in a holiday request, which is required from the term after your child turns 5. What gets me wound up is, why am I requesting permission to take my child out of school, but I don’t have to request permission to take him out of school altogether?

A couple of friends took a trip with their two little ones a few months back. Their daughter had just turned 5, an age where no fundamental coursework or exams could possibly be a factor, yet they were denied the right to take their child on holiday during term time, a holiday that was to see family members in Australia who they hadn’t seen for over 2 years. They had to pay a fine and a black mark was put against their child, noting that there was “unauthorised” absence.

What is with that?

Look, I get it, some people are totally irresponsible and would think nothing to hoisting a 15 year old in the middle of GCSEs out of school to take a family holiday to Benidorm for a week, but at 5 years old? What could they possibly be missing that is so vital two weeks will make a difference? Nothing. It’s a nanny state complex that has been introduced as a money making scheme by government.

In addition to this, I have a friend who was fined for taking her daughter out of school for a family trip to Portugal. During this two week family holiday she took her girls to museums, aquariums, beach trips and other cultural experiences that they simply wouldn’t have here… Yet it was considered a break in their education and worthy of a fine. No. Just no. This was further accentuated when one of the girls was sent home with a request to visit Pizza Hut for a “celebratory” end of term lunch. During a school day!

Someone draw the comparison for me there between taking time out to further your social and cultural education, build quality relationships with family members and a trip to Pizza Hut with your friends… What on earth is wrong with this system?

As far as my teacher friends go, I have a mixed bag though the majority lean towards thinking it is a ludicrous policy (the only one that doesn’t is rather laughably a primary school teacher, who works with year 1 children and sees absence as a nuisance because her planning could be disrupted.). After discussing it with them it further emphasises to me how this attitude suits no one, and is in no way productive to the parent/school relationship. It is also heavily biased towards people with a higher income too – what is £60 PER PARENT, PER CHILD when you are spending £5,000? A lot to some people, not much to others. It’s biased and unfair to those who have to scrim and scrape to make the holiday viable in the first place, not to mention to parents of multiple children.

We try our hardest to be respectful of the fact that teachers do have enough on their plates already, and ask what they will be missing and if there is anyway they can let me know where I can download some materials OR we buy them some work books and get them to continue reading, practising maths and writing. As I said, at this stage, those really are the things that they are missing out on and NO ONE will ever convince me that it’s necessary for any child to have 100% attendance. It’s not always about putting more work on to already over stretched teaching staff, but about working together and taking responsibility for the fact that you need to get your kiddo caught up.

What are your thoughts? Have you been caught out by this or had any issues with taking your children out of school? Do you think it’s fair?

H x

61 Comments

  1. Leanne
    September 13, 2019 / 10:35 am

    My daughter has just started in Year 1, she has excellent attendance and in the 2.5 years she’s been at the school (preschool included) she’s only had 8 sick days, 5 because of chicken pox and 3 for a bout of sickness. She is so incredibly clever and we regularly do worksheets at home about planets, the human body, talking about things like the Egyptians etc, maths, reading, phonics so I have absolutely no issues with taking her out of school for a weeks holiday. However if she was in Year 2 or Year 6 when she has SATs it would be a different story and I would probably not take her out, I’ve seen how much work they need to put in in Year 2 and I wouldn’t want to put pressure on her to catch up
    In May we went to Disneyland Paris, luckily we didn’t get a fine but even if we had I would much rather pay £120 compared to an additional £1,000 for having the holiday in school holidays!
    I believe that children should be allowed a “holiday allowance” when they have attendance for the previous year above a certain level. Even if it’s just 5 days a year it would help parents keep holiday costs down for a week away.

  2. September 13, 2019 / 9:02 am

    We took a term time holiday last year, picked the week carefully, they had 3 days offs 2 in. We wouldn’t be issued with a fine as we weren’t missing 5 days.
    I put in a request, had to meet with the attendance principal, she denied it, they don’t approve term time holiday, but wouldn’t submit it to the council (who issue the fines) as it wasn’t 5 days +… She was very appreciative of my honesty and said they get families that lie and phone in sick the children come back to school well with tans and hair braids and there’s nothing they can do….
    we got a rude letter saying our request was denied. It was worth it we had an amazing family break, we got to experience activities that would have been too busy in school holidays to enjoy. This would be worth a fine to me, and a factor I’m considering when I price up next years break.

  3. Mary
    September 13, 2019 / 8:18 am

    I can only come at this from a secondary teacher’s perspective but it is very difficult for me when families take their kids out of school for weeks at a time. I am personally responsible for every class I teach’s performance (not only GCSE kids) and “they were on holiday” is not an excuse that flies in meetings with a department head. I am expected to put together work packs or to spend extra time with those kids catching up work. When I already work from 8-6:30 every day, and work on a weekend that tends to bite.
    However, I don’t think for a second that this is the fault of parents. I think the solution would be to have schools set their own holidays which would disrupt the ability of places to raise their prices during school holidays (as schools somewhere would almost always be on holiday). Primaries and secondaries in the same area could work together and assure siblings had the same holiday.
    In the end they’re your kids, I’m not going to tell you how to raise them!

  4. Heidi
    February 23, 2019 / 6:47 pm

    I think it is very sad that children are being taught that pulling ‘sickies’ is an acceptable way of taking time out but submitting genuine requests for time off for worthwhile breaks is not acceptable. It will be interesting to see how this works out for employers in 10 years time!

  5. May 4, 2016 / 11:14 am

    We used to take a holiday every year during term tinr and I didn’t do bad I think. A week or two during a school year isn’t harmful at all and Is educational too. Family tine is important too, the school has our kids for 6 hours a day 5 days a week!!

    • Harriet May 6, 2016 / 9:16 am

      I think it really helps Viki x

  6. May 3, 2016 / 5:26 pm

    Very interesting read! I honestly think, travel is the absolute BEST education a child could possibly have, the experience and the experience of different cultures and places, the experience of traveling, whether it’s via airplane or train, car or boat. It’s all a good experience and learning a long the way! I do not agree with fines. Once or twice a year for a week or two does no one any harm. I get it if there’s GCSE’s coming up, that’s fair enough but when the kids are in primary school…. I don’t agree with the fines.

  7. allison sullivan
    May 3, 2016 / 11:42 am

    im so with you on this,in term time hols are hundreds of pounds cheaper and then woosh up they go,we try not to take kids out but sometimes it can be helped,we went over term time by 2 days and i got an awful letter stating how dissapointed they are with my childrens attendance going from 99.8% to 96.8%.i mean sheesh ,my kids go with a sniffle and some families just keep their kids of if they sleep in and i bet they dont issued fines.i really get to me

    • Harriet May 3, 2016 / 12:05 pm

      It is very frustrating isn’t it? It feels almost like a dictatorship, and is totally skewed by the fact that you can literally stop sending your child to school and homeschool them, which according to a recent study, is so under monitored it’s become a bit of a dilemma for the local councils.

  8. May 1, 2016 / 9:43 am

    I agree. I think some people abusing this and taking their children out of school had led to this law being implemented. I think each case should be considered carefully and unique to each child/parent.

  9. April 30, 2016 / 10:29 pm

    I’m just sad that a few people over the years have completely taken advantage and always taken their kids out of school during term time, spoiling it for the rest of us. There’s just sometime you really can’t help taking kids out of school – We won a holiday but could not use it as we didn’t get permission 🙁

  10. April 30, 2016 / 9:36 pm

    I feel you. Its frustrating but I can see why the fine system is in place – simply to stop EVERYONE from taking time off left, right, and centre throughout their child’s education, because as you say, if the opportunity is there – people will do it for reasons other than family one-offs or cultural experiences.
    That said, I have on two occasions taken my children out of school when ive deemed it applicable and beneficial above and beyond a week in the classroom … . And Ive not yet been fined. Ive been threatened. But no actual fine!
    Great post,
    Anna x

  11. April 30, 2016 / 8:38 pm

    If its during exams like GCSCES/ A-Levels then I think that there should be fines but I mean Primary School is a completely different ball game. Why shouldn’t you be allowed to take your kids where your job allows you to go it is not a crime!

  12. April 30, 2016 / 6:48 pm

    I have always taken my children out of school for holidays, the difference in price has often run into thousands so is definitely worth a small fine! x

  13. April 30, 2016 / 10:18 am

    I think it all depends on the school and what type of holiday. I took my eldest out of school for a month when he was four to visit family in Canada and the school was ok with it because he’d learn more in that month on holiday than he would at school.

  14. April 29, 2016 / 9:21 pm

    I used to love it when my mum would take me on holiday as a treat if I had just recovered from being ill. I understand the government wanting kids to have a good education but what’s a few days going to do?!

  15. April 29, 2016 / 5:33 pm

    I may be tempted to do this once my kids start school. Too expensive to go anywhere doing the holidays.

  16. April 29, 2016 / 4:19 pm

    I work in a school & to my knowledge..you don’t get fined unless the child has bad attendance or is late to school a lot! I think if holidays in half terms were affordable less people would take their kids out in term time! I always had holidays during term time when I was at school…still got A’s at GCSE!

  17. April 29, 2016 / 1:44 pm

    I think its so stupid when schools do that. I completely understand if it’s someone taking their kid away a ridicous amount of times throughout the year and effecting their school work, but odd holidays here and there cause no harm.

  18. April 29, 2016 / 12:17 pm

    It is really annoying as a teacher when kids miss weeks of school, as it causes a lot of extra work (you’d be surprised how much!) to help that child catch up. Even at lower levels, if you miss a few maths lessons for example, you won’t understand the next few weeks of work unless the teacher puts in extra hours to help catch you up. Times that by several children who each miss a different week, and it can be really awkward! I do know it’s important to let kids experience holidays and fun, but I hope you do see the other side of the story as well.

  19. April 29, 2016 / 12:33 am

    I remember taking my kids out of school a few times for vacations. I think schools should have a better system than strikes and fines.

  20. April 28, 2016 / 10:49 pm

    This is one of the reasons I really don’t want my daughter to go to a school in this country. It’s madness. They really shouldn’t be able to do this. Holidays are educational and teach so much! You learn new skills and about other cultures. It’s crazy they fine you. x

    • Harriet April 29, 2016 / 8:44 am

      Absolutely Chloe, it’s a failure in the system too when some areas are lax on the matter but others have been known to refuse time for funerals etc. Insane.

  21. April 28, 2016 / 10:47 pm

    It’s a tough one. As a secondary school teacher, I am largely in favour of those fines, because GCSE and A-Level students need the continuity and every single lesson they can get to succeed. As a human being however (not that teachers are not human beings!) and parent, I think it’s ridiculous at primary level. Until I was 11, my grandparents were spending 6 weeks in the French Alps every winter, and I was going with them (my mum couldn’t afford the childcare and worked 2 jobs). I learnt so much there! My nan was taking me through my lessons every day and I would also learn how to ski. How great is that?

    • Harriet April 29, 2016 / 8:46 am

      I wholeheartedly would support fines and a blanket no for children doing GCSEs and A Levels (though at A level its their choice not their parents) but under that age? No. For SATs? No. I totally agree with you though that the primary system shouldn’t have it but for maybe years 10/11 it is a must they are in school.

  22. April 28, 2016 / 10:44 pm

    I think it is ridiculous and I am hoping to not send my little one to a school in this country because of it. It’s crazy that they charge you when they are actually learning skills from going on holiday. Madness! x

  23. April 28, 2016 / 10:24 pm

    This still blows my mind! As far as I am aware in Ireland a child just can’t miss more than X number of days before the parents is contacted. Life experiences are just as important as things they learn in school! x

    • Harriet April 29, 2016 / 8:48 am

      I agree Ellen, what you learn from life experience is often far more valuable than what is learnt at a desk or in school (not to say school isn’t vitally important but to say that its about mixing it up a bit).

  24. April 28, 2016 / 10:18 pm

    I don’t have kids – so I’m not sure I really get a say – but I think its bonkers!

    • Harriet April 29, 2016 / 8:48 am

      I agree, bonkers is applicable!

  25. April 28, 2016 / 9:45 pm

    It’s a tough decision whether to take them out of school and risk a fine.

    • Harriet April 29, 2016 / 8:49 am

      I would risk the fine, difference of £60 or over £500 for us during school hols.

  26. April 28, 2016 / 9:39 pm

    i have to say im part of the group who say i dont think its fare to critise families who want a cheaper holiday but i do believe its unfare to fine parents for choosing a short period of time to take their little ones away , unless they are in a critical part of their learning i see no harm

    • Harriet April 29, 2016 / 8:58 am

      Exactly, I don’t think it’s fair at all and it’s very biased towards wealthier families.

  27. April 28, 2016 / 9:39 pm

    This is so new to me actually, cause my little one will be starting reception next year, and from where we come from, Spain, never had to deal or heard something like that. I like the idea of the school worrying about absences but I think this is just too extremist from my point of view. Enjoy the lovely time you will have in September btw! xx

    #bloggersclubuk

  28. April 28, 2016 / 7:18 pm

    This is one thing that gets me, I feel that if your child is never late (apart from something out of your control), has good attendance and is doing ok at school, and it is not a time when they need to be in, then why can you not take your child out. Saying this my Daughter has been off most of this year due to illness, we have fought to get her school work sent home and fought for her to be back in school.

    • Harriet April 29, 2016 / 8:28 am

      I couldn’t agree more and I had one teacher friend tell me that they wouldn’t ever send work home with a sick child or on holiday because it meant more work for them!

  29. April 28, 2016 / 6:58 pm

    I think school holiday fines are a baby out with the bathwater approach. Clearly missing lots of school is a bad idea but fining everyone every time is a bit nuts!

  30. April 28, 2016 / 6:12 pm

    I think that at primary school level, children could benefit from the holiday and it could add to their educational experience. Way back when our sons were young, we took them out for a skiing holiday when they were in Year 1 & 2. Their teachers were supportive and thought they would benefit from being exposed to a different language and culture, even if it was a fun holiday. Now it seems very different.

    • Harriet April 29, 2016 / 8:50 am

      It is different now, and the system seems unfairly biased to teachers as well… nothing good comes from this.

  31. April 28, 2016 / 1:42 pm

    I took my girls out of school for 3 weeks last year to visit thailand. one of those weeks was half term so really was only 2 weeks from school. My eldest will be missing 7 days ffrom school in july and the school have no choice haha

    • Harriet April 29, 2016 / 8:50 am

      No I don’t think mine would either I have to say, we would just take them.

  32. April 28, 2016 / 1:26 pm

    This whole fine thing annoys me so much, it’s pathetic! My parents used to take me out of school all the time as a kid and I still came out with As and A* at GCSE and A level, and those are really the only two important exams! I understand that it’s not good to take them out of school during exam periods but most of the year, a week or two won’t make that much difference as there are plenty of ways to catch up if need be! The prices are horrific during holiday time so a small fine is soooo worth it! I was taken to Dominican Republic loads when I was younger, the price could be around £700 each for a two week all inclusive holiday compared to the £1300 during summer holidays or over the easter holidays!

    • Harriet April 29, 2016 / 8:51 am

      The price jump is extreme isn’t it Kira?!

  33. April 28, 2016 / 1:15 pm

    Hmmm my daughter is in reception and I have no qualms about taking her out of school for a holiday I honestly don’t feel like she will be missing anything we can’t afford the prices in the school holidays and I think family time is so important.

    There are plenty of people who won’t agree but I think each to there own!

  34. April 28, 2016 / 1:04 pm

    I find that so ridiculous! I guess we’re lucky here in Cornwall, we don’t get get fined for taking our kids out during term-time. The headteacher at T’s school is also so understanding when it comes to these things. I guess she knows that since we live in a tourist spot a lot of the parents jobs/businesses make most of their money during the tourist season, which means they are unable to go on holiday around this time, therefore, whatever holiday they get, they do it over term-time. Have fun at DisneyWorld. xx

    • Harriet April 29, 2016 / 8:55 am

      Thank you – I can’t wait!

  35. April 28, 2016 / 12:49 pm

    My daughter starts school in September and so we are about yo enter this wonderful world! What I don’t think is fair, is how the “rules” are different at each school. It doesn’t seem fair that one parent can take their child out for a week with no fine or a black mark, but travel 2 miles down the road and a parent is fined and now seen as trouble. How is that fair they are treated differently for the same request??? X

    • Harriet April 29, 2016 / 8:55 am

      It’s a postcode lottery isn’t it really?!

  36. April 28, 2016 / 12:02 pm

    I’m with you on this Harriet.
    We do staycations at the moment because we have 3 boys, the youngest is 2, but even in the UK, a self catering holiday out of school holidays is sometimes £500 and then the moment the school holidays hit, BAM! That will be £900 now thank you…or sometimes even more. It drives me bloody mad!!!!I know it is a case of supply and demand and places are going to utilise/jump on this but I wish it wasn’t the case.
    I’ve not taken my kids out of schoool myself (just because we haven’t had need to yet) but plenty of friends have. The rules in our area are you can miss a certain number of sessions, 10 maybe (which off the top of my head equates to 5 days absense) before you will get fined or have legal proceedings bought against you. The school are normally pretty good about it but never authorise the absense and as someone else said, you’re probably better off just phoning them in sick! Though tricky when you have more than one child at the school…a bit suspicious when they both get sick for the same number of days 😉
    I hope you don’t have a tough time with it all!
    Gemma

    • Harriet April 29, 2016 / 8:56 am

      Oh it’s INFURIATING! I can’t possibly see a benefit in legal proceedings… for anyone!

  37. April 28, 2016 / 11:30 am

    It must be such a tough decision to make. I know when I was at school this wasn’t an issue and I would miss a week or two of school a year until I hit about 10 and it never affected my education. I agree with you about what can a child really be missing by taking 2 weeks off when they’re 5. x

  38. April 28, 2016 / 9:57 am

    its difficult isn’t it. personally i think that children will get more out of travelling and learning about different places and cultures than they would sitting in a classroom reading books. But then if a child gets taken out of school i think it’s important the parents DO teach them about the culture etc not just a sit around the pool kind of thing – does that make sense?

    • Harriet April 28, 2016 / 10:53 am

      Absolutely. And I also feel that there is a time and place for coming out of school, not just a “well sod the GCSEs” attitude that some have. H x

  39. April 28, 2016 / 9:39 am

    We are taking our son out of school for the last three days of the summer term to go to centerparcs. My husband cannot take any time off during the school holidays, so this is the only chance we have for a family holiday this year.

    My son is in reception and the school told me I couldn’t book it as holiday. However they did suggest that I phone up and say he’s sick as a way of getting round it, which is what we are doing. Xxx

    • Harriet April 28, 2016 / 10:54 am

      That is INSANE! They are actively advocating doing something they shouldn’t! What’s more, if your husband can’t take hols during holiday time then he has a viable reason and under guidelines SHOULD be given leave to take your son without repercussion.

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