Economic Slowdown Forcing Parents to Consider School Term Holidays

The downturn in the economy is forcing many UK parents to consider the option of taking their children on holiday during the school term, and thereby take advantage of lower holiday rates.

A survey conducted by Mintel, a market research company, has suggested that around half of those British parents polled are seriously considering taking their children out of school for a term time break in order to enjoy a cheaper holiday, even though the government has registered its disapproval of parents that do so.

The slowdown in the UK economy is forcing six out of ten families to cut back on family holidays as the rising cost of living cuts into household budgets.

Tom Rees, the senior travel and tourism analyst at Mintel, said, ‘The balance of opinion clearly indicates that the majority of parents are prepared to take children out of school. This suggests opportunities for companies to directly market non-peak family holidays, pushing the fact that going in term time will be cheaper. This is especially the case as cost concerns are clearly strong in the current economic climate.

Any company doing so, risks the wrath of the government, which (the government) is clearly determined to reduce instances of children being taken out of school for holidays.’

Previously, the UK government has said that it was considering implementing a tougher system of fines for parents who regularly take their children on vacation during term-time. If the new rules are implemented, parents may face penalties of up to £120, which is double the current fine of £50 to £60.

Parents Shell Out GBP2,474 to Keep Children Entertained during Summer

With the UK schools closed for summer, British parents may have to shell out around GBP2,474 on childcare and entertainment this summer to keep their children occupied.

A survey of 5,000 British parents shows that summer breaks are often a cause of worry for working parents, as they have to allow for the additional expense of having children at home when both parents are working, or for the cost of keeping them entertained during bad weather.

Worried parents are likely to spend, an average of GBP351 on childcare, GBP504 on day outings, and GBP665 on supplementary transportation and food, as they struggle to keep children busy in summer camps, on entertainment programmes, and holidaying with the family.

Around 17 percent of parents with children below 18 years of age have opted not to take a vacation this summer, while 53 percent of parents surveyed are likely to restrict their vacation to the UK.

Travelodge, a UK based company operating a chain of budget hotels, has reported an increase in ‘staycations’, the buzzword for Brits holidaying in the UK, according to its reservation data.

Travelodge spokesperson, Shakila Ahmed, said, ‘We’re calling it ‘hotel hopping’. We have seen a significant rise this year of people visiting two or three destinations in a week rather than staying at just one. Families might stop off at Eastbourne, Brighton and Bognor Regis exploring the Sussex coast, for example.

Resourceful Britons are making one holiday feel like more, which is a great way of keeping the children entertained during the holidays.

Parents told us that entertaining children on rainy days is GBP53 more expensive than on dry days. More rain could really put the Wellington boot into already cash-strapped parent’s budgets.’


Pupils ‘bunk’ school for family holidays

Huge savings on off-peak holidays have lured many families into take their children out of school, fuelling record truancy rates, according to official figures.

The figures have almost doubled in two years, increasing from 20,500 pupils to 40,000 pupils now being removed from school during term-time.

This incredibly rise in truancy is being blamed on parents not being able, or willing to pay up to 60 per cent more for holidays during school breaks.

Families dealing with the economic turn-down and rise in prices of everything from groceries to fuel, are opting for cheaper off-peak holidays. Although they face a fine of up to £100, this is far less than the premium they would pay by booking a family holiday during school breaks.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said that despite the ‘welcome’ drop in secondary schools, absenteeism is ‘still too high’.

During the February half-term break, the average price of a holiday went up by 53 per cent, making the typical holiday premium more than £1,000.

Pupils can be granted up to ten days of a year, however these guidelines state this should only be in exceptional circumstances, for example to enable parents to meet inflexible work commitments.

Parents who ignore these rules are first reported to their local council, which can impose £50 penalty fines. These swiftly increase to £100 for non-payment.

In extreme cases, or refusal to pay the fines, parents can face jail.

According to the Department for Education figures, across all state schools, 184,020 pupils were branded ‘persistent absentees’, which means they missed more than 32 days of school, a 5 per cent increase on last year.

The overall truancy rate for all schools in England dropped marginally with 1.04 per cent of pupils regularly skipping school, down from 1.05 per cent the year before. This, however, is still a big increase on 1996-97, when the truancy rate was 0.73 per cent.