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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 September 2005, 08:19 GMT 09:19 UK
Plan to cut term-time holidays
holidaymakers on beach
Holiday prices fall when school terms begin
The government has struck a deal with travel companies over cheaper holidays in an attempt to stop parents taking their children on term-time trips.

Some families take their children out of school to avoid high prices during official school holidays.

The scheme, called Every Lesson Counts, comes after it was estimated that one in six truants is away with their parents on a family holiday.

Incentives will include discounts, free child places and early booking deals.

Money off

The plan, announced by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), comes as the government prepares to publish the latest figures on truancy.

ABTA and the main tour operators including Thomas Cook, Kuoni, Virgin are expected to promote deals for the Christmas holidays and next year's summer break.

Offers in a trial last year included a guaranteed free child place per booking, 50% discounts for up to two children sharing with two adults and 400 off holidays in Florida and California.

A term-time holiday is all too often seen as the rule - it should be the exception
Department for Education and Skills

There were also discounts of 50 off bookings when one child aged four to 16 was in the party, or 75 off bookings that included two or more children.

Supply and demand

Early booking holiday deals will also be promoted through a dedicated campaign website from November.

A DfES spokesman said: "Taking a holiday during term-time can mean that children miss important school time and coursework.

"A term-time holiday is all too often seen as the rule - it should be the exception.

"Of course we recognise that supply and demand can lead to price differences in periods of peak demand.

"So, we are delighted to be joining with the travel industry to encourage parents to book early to help them keep prices down and their children in school."

'Competitively-priced'

Earlier this month, the government said it had considered ending what some parents regard as a "right" to 10 days holiday during school terms.

The DfES thought about removing schools' discretion to grant leave of absence but then decided to keep it.

Instead it said it would review its guidelines to reinforce the message that term-time holidays should be "the exception rather than the rule".

A spokesman for ABTA said: "The UK travel industry is one of the most competitively priced in the world, whilst recognising that supply and demand can lead to price difference in periods of peak demand.

"Booking early for the school holidays means that families can keep holiday costs down and everyone can take a break without missing school.

"We are happy to work with the DfES on this important campaign."


SEE ALSO:
Term-time holidays under review
05 Sep 05 |  Education
Rise in teenage truancy figures
16 Sep 04 |  Education
School's truancy rate understated
03 Mar 05 |  Education
Reward scheme combats truancy
04 Feb 05 |  Education
Family holiday 'truants' targeted
23 Feb 03 |  Education


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