Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 4°C

min temp: 1°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Poll: Is it too early to book a family summer holiday? Headteacher criticises ‘cynical’ parents over term-time breaks

19:00 18 January 2016

Simon Letman, headteacher at Holbrook Academy.

Simon Letman, headteacher at Holbrook Academy.

Archant

Dr Simon Letman, headteacher of Holbrook Academy, said “it is time to make a stand” against term-time holidays.

Headteachers can only permit term-time absences in “exceptional circumstances”. Before the Government revamp in September 2013, they were able to grant pupil absences for up to 10 days a year for family holidays in “special circumstances”.

Opponents argue poor households struggle to pay for expensive summer holidays as firms put up prices.

But Dr Letman said: “I am disappointed parents feel that sometimes they have to tell fibs. They will report an illness when clearly there is not an illness, when students are being taken on holidays during term time cynically because flights and accommodation are cheaper.

“Each day that the child is away from school unauthorised affects their learning. We try to work in partnership with parents and have a good working relationship with them, but some just ignore the rules.

“Some frankly don’t care and they know that if they do get a penalty notice, the amount they have saved on the cost of the holiday will more than compensate for that, so it is cynical and we certainly take a dim view of it.

“I understand that some families will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to afford family holidays during the standard school holiday time, but I can’t have sympathy with their approach because my job is to ensure that children get the best possible outcomes and they will only do that if they are in school for 100% of the time.”

Currently, if an absence is not authorised, local authorities have an obligation to fine parents and enforce legal proceedings on behalf of schools.

Under the current system, parents who take children out of school without permission could face a £60 fine per child, rising to £120 if it is not paid within 21 days.

Those who fail to pay can face prosecution, with a maximum fine, if convicted, of £2,500 or a jail sentence of up to three months.

This newspaper previously revealed the number of Suffolk parents convicted over their child’s school attendance doubled from 149 in 2012/13 to 309 in 2014/15. The number of Fixed Penalty Notices dramatically rose from 256 to 2,736 over the two years.

The Local Government Association has said there are occasions where parents’ requests should be considered, such as religious festivals, weddings, funerals or an “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

Prime Minister David Cameron has previously said that he has “sympathy” for parents struggling financially.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Unauthorised absences are for councils to take action where necessary, including prosecuting parents for failing to secure their child’s attendance at school.

“The most recent attendance figures show we have made real progress. Some 200,000 fewer pupils regularly miss school compared with five years ago.”

23 comments

  • The education system in this country does need to catch up with the modern World. What sickens me is the holiday firms, they are exploiting the system, they are disgusting, just look for yourselves at holiday price changes from day one of school holidays. Foul practice. No wonder folks have to take their kids out of school in term time, that may be the only way those poor kids can have a holiday. As long as its just a short holiday of up to 2 weeks, I don't see a problem. My folks took us kids on holiday during term time, it dint efect me much, i still do good inglish! Sorry, couldn't resist.

    Report this comment

    richie w

    Sunday, January 24, 2016

  • This is hiding a bigger problem. Both for holidays and the education system. The education system is failing young people. Kids leaving school without the skills and knowledge employers are looking for. You can argue they need every day, but in all honesty they could probably take 6 months off a year (inclusive of school holidays) in the first few years of secondary school and have absolutely no impact on their later GCSE scores. You cannot criticise parenting for taking 1-2 weeks off school to make a summer holiday a reality. However, if you are poor you don't need to borrow borrow borrow to have a holiday abroad every year. Why not every other year? The family would appreciate it more. I will end up with its never "too early to book" if booking in advance for half term!

    Report this comment

    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Sunday, January 24, 2016

  • The whole education system designed hundreds of years ago has failed to change while the World changes around it. Holidays are cheaper, the world is smaller, families are spread out over the World, there is more choice for families now and when both parents are working time off has to be organised over 2 different employers. If every family took holidays out of term time most employers would not allow it as everyone would be off at the same time. Solutions: Education to run 52 weeks of the year like everything else does in the Country, no where else shuts for 13 weeks a year. That's what work is like for everyone else. Education to come out of the dark ages and adapt to the changing world. Teachers get 5 weeks holiday and take that like we all have to only having a certain number off at one time, close for a week at Xmas (sorry the holiday season, don't want to offend anyone), shorten the school day (for classroom learning) as you've now got 12 more weeks to teach in. Have more time allocated to sport, fitness, leisure and community work getting kids active to curb the rise in obesity, lengthen the school day start 8am finish 5pm, getting kids ready for real life (without shift work, nights, working outdoors can come later!.) more clubs, activities and study time at school. This issue is not bad parenting its a failure of the education system not adapting to the changing needs of families and communities. Time for change.

    Report this comment

    Irons

    Friday, January 22, 2016

  • Travel Companies DO NOT have to put prices up in the school holidays , what they need to do is supply MORE holidays and sell the holidays at the same prices all year . They would then make the same profit as when selling at the inflated prices. They could publish their holidays earlier and allow booking 123 years in advance . They could change the way people pay for their holiday , perhaps taking 50% deposit at time of booking etc. There would be more people going on holiday then as the prices surely put people off , i know it did us , we usually had family holidays in October , either week before or week after the half term and including the school holiday. Children only lost out on at most 4 days school . Both my children never were sick or missed one day of school throughout their whole primary secondary and sixth form .

    Report this comment

    Poppys Dad

    Thursday, January 21, 2016

  • Difficult one! Don't think travel operators should have the amount of blame directed at them as they do- as others have said it is a simple case of supply and demand- not forgetting that they all lose money during the quieter periods. Also, every family is different- taking time off in term-time doesn't mean jetting off abroad necessarily- it might be a caravan for a long-weekend- doesn't mean it isn't any less valuable as family time than any other holiday. I do think the general educational benefits holidays can bring are often over-looked too easily- not to mention the vast benefits of spending time as a family just having fun!! Staggering holidays is a sensible solution- and already happens to an extent between different counties. Or even- why not allow 5 days every 2 years, or something similar? Time off in years 7 and 8 are less important than year 9, just as year 10 is less important than year 11 (as a generalisation). Personally, I would stump up the £60 and enjoy the greater saving, but this will be one where there will be a lot of strong, differing views!

    Report this comment

    IpswichBristol

    Thursday, January 21, 2016

  • Rightly or wrongly the chances are in that the 1950s & 1960s most children had one parent at home and one parent at work. The pace of life was vastly slower, parents less stressed and with greater quality time to spend with their children. The world has moved on now, we live in a high tempo world where greater flexibility is needed; Services, health and retail have had to adapt, so why not education ? We are in a 21st century society where both parents work, majority of single parents work, step-parents work. The quantity and qaality of time that we spend with our children has diminished. The majority of families break under this pressure. Some correspondents here think that the term "holiday" relates to only to the wealthy enjoying an overseas tour, but the fact is that it is relevant to each family; whether the current six weeks enforced madness ensures demand and higher prices for childcare, a day trip to Felixstowe, a beach hut for the week, or a caravan park holiday.

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Thursday, January 21, 2016

  • I was a school pupil during the 1950s and 60s and I never had a holiday anywhere (billions worldwide still do not) so I am puzzled why it has suddenly become so essential. Do we think today's society is better than it was in the past because everyone is now flying all over the world? Debatable. Also, 'Gobby' makes a very good point that long school holidays cause problems in modern society where often both parents have to work due to absurd house prices; can I add that it is direct government policies which have driven up house prices in the UK and maintain them at high levels in spite of falls in other countries where 'market forces' (usually favoured by Tories) are allowed to act.

    Report this comment

    Johnthebap

    Thursday, January 21, 2016

  • Totally agree with most comments already posted up here but isn't it time for teachers & so called educational leaders to stop blaming parents for doing the financially right thing for their own family's. How about actually lobbying the travel companies who rack up these extortionate price hikes? "Oh hold on,we can't do that as they'd fight back,I know let's blame the parents"!. The whole UK education system is a joke from top to bottom!. A major restructuring is required to bring it into the modern ages & yes that would probably mean some job losses as it would in any other profession.But they could always go out on strike to show the parents & children how much they care for their education!

    Report this comment

    Shed Kev

    Thursday, January 21, 2016

  • Some of these people making comments are clearly not in education. With technology these days most subject matter, class resources can be uploaded and made available to studentspupils right in their own homes, there is no need to repeat subjects already taught because the individual has missed a lesson. This is very easily done often at a click of a button. Most schools have that type of technology as a matter of course.The emphasis is then put on the pupil (with motivation from parent) to do this work in there own time, which a loving caring parent who would like to take their child out of school during term time would be willing to do. Lets not forget that a holiday wherever that may be is an education in itself also lets not forget that parents, because of workload who cannot spend a lot of their time midweek with their children are often criticised.

    Report this comment

    Rocky3

    Wednesday, January 20, 2016

  • It strikes me that quite a lot of folk seem to take the view that "It's my right to take children out of school if I wish to do so". I would dispute that they do have that "right" although I do agree that the current ruling has become too rigid. But I would like to present another point which I think is rarely mentioned. If a child is absent for (say) a fortnight, on their return the teacher must spend time "filling in the gaps" of what they have missed. This takes time which would otherwise be spent on the rest of the class. If several children have "time out", this is multiplied. So these children's supposed "right" to a holiday actually interferes with the whole class' education. (Of course the same is true with sickness, but that is unavoidable; it is not true however of "training days" as, on these occasions, the whole class is away at once). On a different point Mark Ling suggests staggering the summer break. Of course this already happens t a degree as Scotland takes its holiday earlier!

    Report this comment

    Baptist Trainfan

    Wednesday, January 20, 2016

  • Mention here of poor families ! If you can take a holiday you are not poor ! We did not have a holiday for 6 years when we had children, we couldn't justify the stupid cost for just 2 weeks just to financially effect the other 50 weeks just to pay for it , so we didn't take a holiday . We would never have classed ourselves as poor. A family holiday is not a necessity.

    Report this comment

    Poppys Dad

    Wednesday, January 20, 2016

  • If the school year was set in Victorian times, then it's an astonishing coincidence that it happens to follow the public schooluniversity year, which was certainly not set up to enable the sons of the aristocracy to go hop picking! It is copied from the Italian year. (Wikipedia is a great thing. Some of it is even true, but not this time!). I understand the problems for parents and can sympathise with some of the sarky comments about teachers but taking kids out of school is totally unacceptable on my view. The average hols has just got to be two weeks and two weeks out of a 12 week term is significant. Also, if a good number of a class takes 2 weeks off at all sorts of times. think what that does for the poor teacher who has to track those pupils to ensure they have caught up with the work they missed. It would become like have three or four classes running at the same time. No need for the awful NUT to tell us that's a problem. Sure rejig the calandar, I'm all or that and do what we can to make it easier for families where nowadays it's the norm for both parents to have to work (to pay the absurd British housing costs) so there is no longer at least one parent on hand to tend to the kid's needs. On the other hand, the laws of supply and demand will mean that there will always be a market pressure for the more desirable holiday times to be more expensive and no amount of hand wringing by indignant Brits who fancy themselves as movers and shakers will alter that. The bottom line is: Education is more important than holidays, a lot more important.

    Report this comment

    Gobby

    Wednesday, January 20, 2016

  • Sorry for misleading message below - just checked email and it's £347 (£115ish each).

    Report this comment

    Justin Robinson

    Tuesday, January 19, 2016

  • Alternatively people could stop using travel agents and book independently, as the price remains pretty constant (and well below that of travel agents) all year round. E.g. we have 8 nights in Rhodes booked for £205 (£70ish each) in the school holidays (extra £40 each for all inclusive). To do this during term time would only be a saving of a few pounds each!

    Report this comment

    Justin Robinson

    Tuesday, January 19, 2016

  • I strongly support any attempt to address persistent truancy or poor attendance. However, the whole situation regarding “Term Time Holidays” is a farce. The 6 week summer holiday was set up so that children could help bring in the Victorian harvests, a time when children and parents had far more time to bond. It has absolutely no relevance to modern families. In 21st century Britain we have both parents working, or broken families with multiple parents working; all of us desperate for some quality time with our kids and partners. This lack of quality family time is often the key reason why so many marriages and partnerships fail. The Department for Education has ignored this crisis and continues to penalize and alienate hard pressed, hard working parents about term time holidays. Our kids may get 12 weeks holiday, but the bureaucrats ignore the fact that most parents get just 4 weeks; with everyone one of these families competing to get a holiday at the same time. They're also oblivious to the economic dip caused by the many businesses that struggle with staff coverage or experience a dip in productivity during this annual enforced period of madness. Parents & politicians like to blame holiday companies for hiking prices, but it’s simply supply and demand. If the entire nation is forced to go on holiday at the same time it’s an unrealistic self made demand. The whole situation needs to change. The 6 week holiday could perhaps be broken into 2 sets of 3 weeks and local authorities could coordinate to stagger them between May and September so that the demand is spread over 4-5 months. This would give families far more options; give schools more flexibility; and allow employers & companies to spread cover. Holiday companies would benefit too as more families would be able to afford a much deserved holiday together; and government may even see a reduction in welfare costs as more families survive and stay together!

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Tuesday, January 19, 2016

  • For many families on a low income, it's often a case of taking a holiday during term time or going without and such experiences can often be as beneficial to a child's development as a few days in school. What really needs to be addressed is the pricing structure of the travel industry. By the way, it's Ramadan and while it might be considerate to alter the exam timetable for those concerned, it need not affect the arrangement of the school calendar unlike say, Christmas or Easter.

    Report this comment

    Nigel Noakes

    Tuesday, January 19, 2016

  • I voted never as I don't think it is ever justified to take your children out of school merely to make holidays easier to finance, On the other hand, the arrangement of the school year is not at all sensible. Our academic years are still arranged of the basis we inherited in the middle ages from Italian academia where the original universities were. It was too hot in the summer there to study so they closed the schools down for the long summer break. This is a traditional we would do well to reform to make it more relevant to our situation in the modern world. Maybe four terms with longer breaks between and a shorter summer break? Well the maths teachers would work out the optimum arrangement and no I do not think Ramadam should be considered an important factor!!

    Report this comment

    Gobby

    Tuesday, January 19, 2016

  • i'm pretty sure if enough parents made a stand against this and challenged the ridiculous government ruling then something would need to be done either aimed at the travel companies adding 50-60% during summer holidays or allowing parents to take their child out during term time for a maximum of say 10 days. I for one have done this and will continue to do so until my children leave school as a £60 fine is better than having to fork out and extra £300-£400 to go away or not go at all.

    Report this comment

    STEVEN HUBERT

    Tuesday, January 19, 2016

  • So says a man in a profession with more "Holiday" entitlement than any other job around!!!

    Report this comment

    england1770

    Tuesday, January 19, 2016

  • Parents are free to educate their children at home and we also read that some parents are able to negotiate flexible arrangements that combine home education with spells in school. Local authorities seem to be free to add extra days of holiday to suit themselves. It all seems a case of don't do as I do but do what I say. No wonder parents don't respect local councils and feel hard done by.

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • Spot on Bill Carsons Grave! When teachers stop adding "training" days to their ample (though well earned I'm sure) hols, we might agree with him.

    Report this comment

    Mike Derruki

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • What a joke. They are quick to say yes to any holiday with a mention of 'maintaining cultural and family links' aka if you have family abroad please feel free to holiday whenever you like.

    Report this comment

    commonsense

    Monday, January 18, 2016

  • But it's fine that my daughter didn't return to school after this Christmas until Wednesday 6th because the teachers needed a "training day" on the Tuesday, amazing how that's ok!!!

    Report this comment

    bill carson's grave.....hey blondie!!!

    Monday, January 18, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

The road is currently closed

The A143 is closed currently near Rickinghall after a serious crash involving a car and a motorbike.

Fire in student accommodation block in Grimwade Street in Ipswich - photo copyright Anglia Picture Agency

University students were evacuated from their accommodation block in Ipswich tonight after a fire broke out.

Christmas extravaganza: Festive fair in Lavenham at the weekend during the three day Christmas Fayre on the Market Place

The “wonderful spirit” of Lavenham was demonstrated once again at the village’s Christmas Fayre over the weekend.

Corrie McKeague with his puppy

Thirteen out of 23 people pictured on CCTV in Bury St Edmunds near the time of RAF airman Corrie McKeague’s disappearance have now been identified, according to the 23-year-old’s family.

Christmas Street Fair at Woodbridge on Sunday.Claire Mew.

Bobble hats, festive wreaths and teapot cosies were just some of the treats on offer at Woodbridge’s Christmas street fair this weekend.

Heave ho: Powerhouse performances from powerlifters from across the country taking part in the Charity Deadlift in aid of Help for Heroes in the Carnhill Walk Shopping Centre in Bury St Edmunds on Saturday

A top weight of 360kg was picked up during a deadlift competition in Bury St Edmunds on Saturday, which raised more than £200 for the Help for Heroes charity.

Colchester Hospital Santa Run from Colchester Castle Park on Sunday. Pic: Seanna Hughes.

Hundreds of festive fundraisers entered a Santa Fun Run in Colchester’s Castle Park to help a hospital charity.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View
HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24