Term-Time Holiday Applications On The IncreaseDecember 28, 2016
The temptations for parents to take children out of school for a term-time holiday are obvious, with prices being substantially cheaper and hotels often easier to book.
And while the possibility of a local education authority fine has until recently acted as a deterrent, new evidence indicates that more applications are now being made to take children on term-time holidays than ever before.
Four out of ten primary schools polled on behalf of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and a law firm reported an increase in applications for term-time absences. Thirty per cent of secondary schools have also seen the number of applications go up.
The increase in applications follows a landmark High Court decision earlier this year that saw two senior judges rule in favour of Jon Platt, who took his daughter on a term-time holiday to Florida. The Isle of Wight businessman spent £13,000 on legal costs in his fight against a £120 fine.
However, 83 per cent of heads said the decision not to implement Mr Platt’s fine had no effect on how many applications they agreed to allow.
Soon after the Platt case, Derbyshire County Council announced it was abandoning fines for parents who take their children on holidays during term-time, providing the pupils have an otherwise excellent attendance record.
The Department for Education still insists that permission for term-time holidays can only be given in exceptional circumstances and the Isle of Wight Council has the backing of education ministers in its application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The ASCL research also underlined increasing unease among heads towards current government education policy. Three-quarters of those surveyed described its impact on their schools as “negative” – an alarming 33 per cent higher than last year’s response to the same question. Lack of funding was identified as the most pressing concern.
“The High Court decision in the Platt case has further muddied an already confusing situation for parents,” said Rebecca Montague, of Macks Solicitors’ Redcar office.
“Although children’s education must always come first, it’s understandable that families are sometimes tempted to take advantage of cheaper deals during term time, especially when money is tight.
“I’d love to see the holiday industry make things easier for parents and take away some of the incentive for them to break the law by offering better value packages during the school holidays.”