60% of the public and 51% of teachers say schools should not issue fines to parents who take their children on holiday in term time
Since September 2013 headteachers in England have been banned from granting term-time absences for children, where previously up to 10 days leave a year could be permitted. The law change led to a fundraising campaign for a couple who were fined £630 for taking their children on a week-long holiday during school term, and a petition – which passed the 100,000 signatures required to be considered in parliament – calling for holiday companies to stop exploiting the increased demand outside of term-time.
Now a new YouGov poll finds that 60% think such fines, which reportedly a quarter of primary schools have imposed, should not be issued to parents who take their children on holiday during term time without the permission of a headteacher. Only 31% say they should be imposed.
51% of teachers also think fines should not be imposed, while 42% think they should.
Additionaly, most people (53%) think parents should be permitted to take children out of school during term time to go on family holidays, while 40% think they should not. Here, however, teachers disagree: 58% say they should not be permitted and 35% say they should.
Much of the motivation for stopping parents taking their children away outside of school holidays focuses on the damage it does to learning. According to Bradford council, between September 2012 and Easter 2013 more than 41,000 days of education were lost from parents doing so, which can “seriously harm the children's progress and attainment".
But three quarters (76%) of the public think that children missing one or two days from school in order to go on a family holiday does not significantly damage their education, as do 68% of teachers.
Campaigners say the change is hitting families who cannot afford the cost of a holiday during school breaks. They say a trip in the summer holiday is over £1,000 more expensive than one during term-time, ‘Soon only rich kids would be able to go on holiday and that's unfair on everyone else.’