• Hannah Armitage

Holiday's During Term Time. Should we be fined?

For the First hour of the radio show on the 9th March 2017 I discussed the topic HOLIDAYS! Mainly the discussion was around the opinion of whether we as Mothers should be allowed to take out children out of school during term time without facing that horrendous fine.

I posted on my social media to Mum’s out there asking for their opinion and I got quite a lot of opinions sent to me. The main comments from Mum’s was that if the your child attendance is good during the year that we SHOULD be allowed to take our children out of school.

The most common reason for this was because many families cannot afford holidays during term time because the travel companies charge extortionate prices the moment children are on school holidays. Many parents I spoke with have happily paid the fine because holidays are so much cheaper during term time.

Parents are typically charged £60 for the child and £60 for the parent therefore if you take your child on holiday during term time you are typically looking at adding £120 onto your holiday budget. Now if parents follow the rule and only take children on holiday during term time the price per person is usually doubled if not tripled which means you holiday budget needs to be a few hundred more.

Other reasons I was given by parents is the fact that a lot of working parents struggle to take holiday from work during term time this is because a lot of people can’t afford the child care while there is no school so they take as much time off work as possible to look after their children. This means a lot of work places restrict the amount of holiday you can take during the school holidays.

Now I don’t know about you but I personally think I should be able to take my child out of school for a holiday whenever I like. The main argument is holidays are educational. The other is with everything going on in your day to day life such as school, work, household chores, LIFE. Do you get to spend that much family quality time together? Holidays are a great way for families to really enjoy each other’s time.

I spoke with a Mum in depth about this; this particular mum had two sides to the story. She is a teacher and a mum. As a teacher she believes that absence from school during holidays can have an effect on their learning especially leading up to important events in school likes SATS or GCSE exams. She believes the government should put a stop to the premium prices of holidays during term time, allowing families to enjoy holidays and children to attend school as much as possible to get the best from their education. This is another fair point to add to the argument.

Another local mum brought up a whole other outlook on this, one I had not thought of myself. Children in schools can be very judgmental. Because of social media there is a lot of pressure on children to have the coolest stuff, go to the coolest places. But bottom line is every households income is different and so is everyone’s holiday budget. If some parents cannot afford to take their children on holiday during term time this then results in the child not having a holiday at all, while watching their class mates go on holiday because their parents can afford it. It puts a lot of pressure on us as parents and it is defiantly not fair on the children who don’t get to experience holidays.

While doing research for this topic on my radio show I followed a story about a Dad from the Isle of Wight who could easily afford holidays during term time, he could easily afford to pay the fines. However he decided to not follow either of these rules. He has taken his children on holiday twice since the fines have been in place and he has always refused to pay the fines. The case went to to Isle of Wight magistrate’s court and the judges there ended prosecution; however the council decided to fight their corner and take Mr Platt to High Court. Mr Platt went on to win the case with the senior judges stating ‘if a child is rarely absent a holiday is NOT a crime’. Following this case lawyers now believe this could stop the fines and lead to thousands of appeals to get your money back!

What this means for us as parents?

The law currently states that head teachers can only agree holidays in term time in ‘exceptional circumstance’

And the law has not technically been changed, YET. However as this case has gone public and a high court judge has stated 'taking your children on holiday is not a criminal offence'. So what this means moving forward is parents need to fight their corner on this. If Mr Platt could fight his way up to High Court and WIN and end up not paying these fines, why can't I do that, why can’t you do that?

If we have already paid fines to the council why can’t we fight to get them back? Mr Platt has said to treat everyone fairly they need to re look at cases.

Personally I have paid £120 in fines for a holiday I took my son back in 2015. This holiday was to celebrate my dad’s 50th, my dad lives in France and we see in 1-2 times a year. My whole family was attending the holiday and it was booked on the date of my dad’s birthday, which unfortunately fell during term time. I requested this to be counted as an exceptional circumstance because weddings are so why shouldn’t family member’s birthday celebrations? However this was declined and I received my fine for £120 from the council through the post 6 weeks after my holiday, just what I needed! But I paid the fine and have not taken Jack out of school during school time since. I am going to try and appeal my fine using Mr Platt’s success story as my motive. Keep an eye on my Facebook page and I will update you with any information I receive from the council.

If you want to read the article about Mr Platts success in court

Have you ever been fined? Have you ever not paid a fine? What your whole opinion on this? Get in contact with me and let me know. If you feel you are entitled to a refund from the council for a holiday fine you don’t agree you should pay why not try to fight it yourself. Send me a message and I will let you know how I’m going to fight for my money back!

My overall opinion on this whole thing; As parents we know what is right for our children, if we believe taking our children on a holiday will not hinder them in any educational way then we should be allowed to do so without being penalised. If for any reason, money or work you cannot take your children on holiday during term time why should YOU and YOUR CHILD miss out on a holiday? Let us raise our kids how we see fit too.

Lots of Love