Term-time holiday fines
Who should have the final say on whether a child has to go to school? Their parents/carers or the teachers/head master?
Over the past few years, parents and teachers have battled out the ongoing issue of when to take their child out of school. Most parents have stated that they wouldn’t dream to going on holiday during GCSE’s or important school times (BBC News-Education) however they don’t want to pay the colossal price increase that the travel companies add on once out of term-time.
Holiday costs double if not triple when the schools break up for half term, hence the reasons why parents are trying to avoid the staggering increase. Some package holidays prices have even risen to over 115% more than the two weeks pervious to the school holidays. (The Telegraph 13th May 2016)
In September 2013, new guidelines were put into place, in England, in order to decrease the level of absences within schools.
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has also stated that term-time is for learning, children and families already have 175 days off school including weekends and school holidays to spend time together.
The Education regulations 2006 said that Head Masters are able to grant leave for up to 10 days, for the purposes of a family holiday during term-time in “exceptional circumstance.”
An absence for the bereavement of a close family member, funeral or important religious observances could be counted as exceptional.
However, the term ‘exceptional’ has been taken out of hand; leaving some parents with no other choice but to take their children out to avoid the holiday price increase.
The initial fine for a parent/carer who takes their child out of school is £60; however in September 2013 the timescale was reduced from 28 to 21 days. The fine will also be doubled if not paid by the correct time.
With around 64,000 fines distributed between September 2013 and August 2014, parents are trying to fight back, resulting in some even attending the High Court of Justice to get these issues resolved.
An example being Jon Platt, a father who took his daughter, who regularly attended school, out without authorised permission from the school. After winning his High Court case it was reported (BBC News- Education 16th May 2016) that alterations to the law needed to be made.
In Scotland, no fines are issued however the Scottish government does aim to advise parents not to take the child out of school, for holidays, without the schools permission.
This is also the case in Northern Ireland as no penalty is issued if the child is taken out of school.
In Wales, families are allowed to take their child out of school for a period of 10 days, within term-time with the head master’s discretion. Huw Lewis, the education minister for Wales, wrote how it was wrong to tell head teachers to ban all term-time leave.
Although the Supreme Court may consider these agreements, changes may take a few months to unravel.