Support for term time holidays increases

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
April 04, 2017, 9:15 AM GMT+0

Brits back parents who want to take their children on holiday during school time by nearly two to one

On Thursday, the Supreme Court is due to rule on whether schools can legally fine parents for taking their children out of school during term time to go on vacation.

The fines are part of a Department for Education clampdown on term time getaways, with the latest figures showing that more than 800,000 pupils missed at least one session of school (equivalent to half a day) because of a family break in 2015-16 – up from 690,000 in 2014-15.

But the high cost of going abroad during school holidays means that some parents believe they have little option but to pull their kids from class if they want to take them on a break.

Ahead of the Supreme Court’s ruling, YouGov finds that 58% of Brits think parents should be permitted to take their children on holiday during term time. This figure is up from 53% in 2014.

Meanwhile, the proportion of people who think that families should not be allowed to take their kids out of school to go on holiday has dropped from 40% three years ago to 30% now.

The Supreme Court case was brought by the Isle of Wight Council after Jon Platt, a father who was fined £120 for taking his daughter to Disney World in April 2015, won a High Court appeal against the fine. Mr Platt has warned that should the Supreme Court decide against him other parents could face criminal consequences for taking their children on holiday without authorisation.

Our data shows that Brits are firmly opposed to both parents being fined and term-time holidays being criminalised. Over six in ten (63%) oppose schools issuing fines. Similarly, results form a separate survey finds that two thirds (66%) don’t believe it should be against the law to take children on an unauthorised holiday.

In supporting its ban on term-time holidays, the Department for Education claims that evidence shows every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chances of achieving good GCSEs, with a knock-on effect on their life chances.

However, Brits are unconvinced. Our results show that just 14% believe that taking a child out of school for one or two days to go on holiday significantly damages their education compared to over three quarters (77%) who believe it doesn’t. These figures are virtually unchanged since 2014, when they were 76% and 14% respectively.

Photo: iStockphoto

See the full results here

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