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Last Updated: Monday, 24 February, 2003, 09:21 GMT
Should family holiday truants be targeted?
family enjoying beach holiday
Parents are being warned that taking family holidays during term time is just as likely to result in on-the-spot fines as other forms of truancy.

The warning follows a government announcement last year that parents of children who miss school without permission could be issued with fixed penalty notices, similar to parking tickets.

It is now being stressed that taking children out of school to take advantage of cheaper air fares and hotels could result in the same punishment.

Is the government right to insist that all parents have to make sure their children attend lessons? Or do you think it is acceptable for children to miss some schooling to go on family holidays? Is there another way the truancy problem can be tackled?

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

I remember when I was at school and some of my friends used to go on holidays during term-time and even then I thought it was disgusting. It is not fair on the other children for a start that some of their classmates get an extra two weeks of holiday - kids get enough time off as it is! I appreciate that it is more expensive to go on holiday during school holidays but in fact, you may be costing your children their education into the bargain.
Charlotte, England

Maybe the schools would like to pay the £300 difference that it costs to take a child on holiday during the summer break as opposed to booking a holiday out of season
Josie, England
Given that many councils are shortening the school summer holidays by adopting four, five or six term years then how are parents supposed to take their children on holiday ? The airports are jammed solid anyway in the summer and forget holidays in this country unless you want to sit in endless jams on the motorways heading south.

Furthermore, this is yet more unconnected thinking from the government - what are employers going to do when all the parents want holiday in the same five weeks in the summer ? The true villains here (apart from the government for criminalising normal people) are the holiday companies who inflate prices just in time for the school holidays.

If this goes through then people without children should be banned from holidaying in school holiday time to allow room for all the families. Surely the effort would be better spent rounding up the waifs and strays from shopping centres and parks instead of targeting normal family activities? Holidays are an essential part of growing up and are as educational as being forced to take part in the normal end of year activities like sports day.
John, UK

The government is trying to appear fair to all by penalising every truant equally. Unfortunately, it has lost sight of the fact that long term truancy is damaging to a child's educational and social development whereas a week away from the ridiculously stressful environment of the classroom for a relaxing holiday probably does the child more good than harm!
Ric, UK

I can see that unauthorised holidays for middle class pupils must be very irritating for teachers dedicated to maximising the children¿s potential but the notion of equivalence between parents taking their kids on a 10-day ski holiday and parents permitting their kids to bunk off school may be politically sound but is clearly logically ridiculous.

Presumably in either case the action has to be systematic or chronic before any steps are taken by the school so one doubts that this statement is any more than hot air and neither intended to be taken seriously nor remembered for more than a fortnight.
T Potter, Lichtenstein

I think it should be dependant on age - my child is eight years old and I have taken him out a week early (in July) for the last 4 years and what has he missed - bringing toys into school for the last week of term/playing games - teachers are on a wind down in the last week of the term leading to the summer holidays as well - so long as it doesn't effect exams who cares!

And as far as truancy is concerned taking a child out of school for a week or two each year for holidays is not the problem - the problem is the kids running about the town and shopping centres causing problems not kids who are abroad!
Dave Telford, England

So when does the government suggest parents who work in the tourism industry take their holidays?
Daniel Godfrey
Maybe the schools would like to pay the £300 difference that it costs to take a child on holiday during the summer break as opposed to booking a holiday out of season, not all families have got teacher's "low pay" to live on!
Josie, England

In response to Dr. Tim Morris, since when did parents start taking their children abroad to other cultural environments for "educational" purposes. Whether parents suggest their motives are good is one thing. What they really mean is "Let's get away from here whilst it's cheap and have some fun".
David, UK

As a teacher, with two young children, perhaps parents would be happy for me to take two weeks off to have a cheaper holiday? I think not! The real problem lies with the tour operators - putting pressure on them to abolish (or reduce) the high season/low season pricing structure could be one solution. Another solution could be the move to six fixed length terms with fixed holidays so every body knows where they stand.
Andy, UK

I am taking my three children (two of whom are at school) abroad for their first holiday this June. Consequently, they will miss two weeks of school. The same length holiday during the summer holidays would have cost nearly £1,500 more. The problem with taking children out of school during term time will only be resolved with consultation not only with schools, parents and the government but also with the profiteering travel companies.
Ian , England

So when does the government suggest parents who work in the tourism industry take their holidays?
Daniel Godfrey, England

No parents should not be fined. holidays can be educational!
Charlotte, UK

Taking children abroad to experience other cultures is highly educational - usually much more so than being in school cramming for SATs
Dr Tim Morris
Well if the government made the holidays longer people wouldn't need to cut so many days off. I think eight weeks holiday is right. If they still carry on missing days then it should be a fine.
Shahzia, UK

This is the biggest step yet to living in a nanny state. To claim that 5 or 10 days missed schooling in a year is worthy of punishment is an affront to civil liberties. Along with the idea of compulsory pensions, I would willingly go to jail to defy this creeping federalism.
David Geran, England

I am a teacher and get pretty fed up when students go away for two weeks and their parents expect me to give them extra work to take with them in addition to the work I plan for my lessons. They often do this last minute as well and get annoyed if you don¿t immediately drop everything and do as they ask.
Luke Magee, UK

There needs to be flexibility. Taking the kids to Disneyland in term time may be out of order, but taking children abroad to experience other cultures is highly educational - usually much more so than being in school cramming for SATs. Schools need to be given freedom to allow parents with good motives to take their children out of school.
Dr Tim Morris, UK

I don't think it is a problem if children go on holiday in term time, as long as they put in the hours afterwards to catch up on what they missed. Certainly didn't do me any harm!
Ben, UK

I do not agree with removing children for holidays during the school year, but maybe the government should look at the travel agencies who increase their prices by anything up to double during the summer holiday. It is hardly surprising that parents take their children out of school when holidays are £3-400 cheaper a month before the summer break begins. If holidays cost the same throughout the year, then this may be much less of a problem.
Linda Asquith, England

Family holiday 'truants' targeted
23 Feb 03  |  Education

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