For most truant schoolchildren, it’s illness that’s keeping them at home. But new figures researched by the Department of Education have suggested that the second-largest cause of school truancy has been the family holiday. With peak-season travel prices often unattainable given the economic state, more families are opting to plan their holidays in off-peak periods, taking their children with them.
It’s a phenomenon that the department wishes to crack down on, claiming that the midterm holidays simply aren’t in the best interests of children. A series of new fines could go into effect next year, an expert within the education sector suggests, limiting the amount of days for which children could be away from school due to planned family holidays and non-illness commitments.
Parents are upset about the proposed new measures, claiming that holidays represent an opportunity for their children to gain important skills outside of the classroom. Excess truancy currently results in a fine of approximately £50 – a price that many parents are willing to pay due to the low cost of off-peak holidays. Top-level fines can approach £100, though they are rarely handed out.
Teachers are allowed to give ‘authorised’ absence passes to students planning to holiday with their families, provided the holiday plans are built around work obligations. Most parents opt to holiday with their children during the final days of each term, aiming to minimize the amount of time spent outside of the classroom during peak learning times.
An estimated seventy-thousand students miss school classes daily due to vacations and non-school events, with almost forty percent of all absences unauthorised by their respective schools. Holidays were the most frequent case of non-illness absences, closely followed by unexplained absences due to students skipping classes, tutorials and school commitments.