Are you taking your child out of school for a holiday in 2020?
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Is planning a break during term time the only way your family can afford to get away this year?
Despite the drag of a longer wait until pay-day, January remains a key diary date for many Brits, who choose the post-Christmas period to plan their dream holiday for the summer ahead.
With family finances ever-burdened by rising food and rent costs, the lure of a cheap out-of-season holiday can prove too good an opportunity to miss. And, despite crackdowns from the government on unauthorised absences since 2013, and the threat of a £60 fine per child (rising to £120 if not paid in 21 days), parents are still flouting the rules and jetting off to the Costas during term time.
According to figures released this week by the Department for Education, one in 10 children was marked as having an unauthorised absence in 2019.
But, say some commentators, can we really blame parents? The difference in cost for the same holiday, just weeks apart, can often into the hundreds, sometimes thousands.
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A cursory search online, for example, shows a Monday to Friday stay in a new woodland lodge for a family of four at Center Parcs' Elveden Forest is £619 in early July, rising to £1099 (nearly £500 more) just three weeks later.
And a week's package deal (hotel room only plus flights) for four, flying economy with BA from Heathrow to Orlando costs £2,440 from July 11 to 18, rising by over £1,500 three weeks later to around £4,000. The difference, for many, between having a holiday, and staying at home.
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Teachers appear divided on the issue - some saying they appreciate families cannot afford to pay the sometime exorbitant hikes on holidays during non-term time, while others argue even a day or two out of education has an impact on a child's learning.
Justine Roberts, founder of parenting website Mumsnet, said: "Of course missing lots of school has a negative impact on children's learning, and is disruptive for teachers as well, but sometimes having the occasional day (or even half a day) off school can be the only way to get an affordable family break.
"Allowing headteachers to exercise discretion - providing parents act responsibly and only take children out of school for really crucial events - would help everyone involved."
What do you think? Will you be taking your child out of school? Have you done so in the past? Or do you think it's wrong and counter to their education to remove them from school for a break? Have you been fined for taking your child out of school for a holiday? Email us