Would you risk a fine?

Last month we spent a lot of time on holiday. First we went to Kos for a week courtesy of Kiddicare and Mark Warner and then we went to Disneyland Paris for two nights. Both of these holidays were during term time and we were very lucky to have been given permission to go away.

It did get me thinking though. What would I have done if the school had not allowed us to take an authorised absense? Also now I know how much we enjoyed going on holiday to a foreign country together would I risk going again? Looking at the difference in price in the holidays deals you can get when booking between school holidays and term times it would definitely be worth considering.

The rules changed this year and the fines were increased for £50 to £60 or £100 to £120 if paid later. At the beginning of the school year we were informed that the school would not authorise any absenses during term time unless under very exceptional circumstances. If a child was off school during term time and the absense was not authorised or for sickness then the school would issue a fine.

Unauthorised absenses have never really been allowed so what has changed?

In 2013 the
Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 were amended. Until that happened head teachers could grant up to 10 days’ leave a year for family holidays in “special circumstances”. They can no longer grant any absence outside school holidays except under “exceptional circumstances”. The reference to the 10-day limit has also been removed from the regulations.

The difference in regulations seems to be the use of the terms “Special circumstances” and “Exceptional circumstances”. Surely the definition of each of those terms can be seen in different ways by different head teachers?

To me the chance to visit a foreign country and be immersed in local culture, try new foods, hear a new language and see new things is special but is it exceptional?

It could be if this is the child’s first ever holiday and the parents cant afford to go at any other time.

Going to Disneyland Paris for a few nights is definitely special but is it exceptional?

I suppose not many parents would go more than once so I would say that to have the opportunity to experience the magic and wonder would be exceptional. Certainly winning a holiday like we did was special and luckily our head teacher thought it was exceptional too. We were not given the option of school holiday dates so we had to go during term time.

One week in the sun and the children tried new foods, took part in new sports, saw ancient ruins, learnt to speak a few words of a new language and spent some quality time together as a family. The health benefits to Elizabeth have been amazing and her confidence since our trip has been astounding.

A holiday isn’t just about a week away from learning in a school environment, there is so much more to it.

Fines for non attendance at school were first issued when the anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 was brought into force. It enabled schools and councils to fine a parent who couldn’t be bothered to ensure that their child attended school.
Allowing your child to stay in bed, hang around the house or mess about in the local town is a far different matter to giving them a cultural experience or even just the chance to visit somewhere new.

When did trying to do the best for your children and giving them new experiences become Anti Social Behaviour?

We were lucky that our school granted us the authorisation to go on holiday but even if they hadn’t we would have gone. We would have accepted the fine and paid it and we would have had a great time on our holiday.

Would you risk a fine to go on holiday during term time?

What if you could save a lot of money by doing so?

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