Parents Planning Holidays with Children during School Term to Face Higher Penalties

Parents who choose to take children out of school for holidays during term-time may face steep penalties according to a report submitted by UK government advisor, Charles Taylor.

The government, however, is considering a reversal of an earlier proposal that would have placed an outright ban on parents taking children on holiday during term time. The ban is being replaced by steeper fines, which may deter already poorly off middle-class parents from considering such vacations.

The government is planning to implement a tougher system of fines for parents who regularly take their children on vacations during term-time, in order to take advantage of off-peak holiday costs. Parents may face penalties of up to GBP120, double the current fine of £50 to £60. The money will be subtracted from child benefits should the parents refuse to make the payment. The penalties come with a 28-day payment clause.

The UK Government’s truancy adviser, Charlie Taylor, said in an interview, ‘Some parents simply allow their children to miss lessons and then refuse to pay the fine. It means the penalty has no effect, and children continue to lose vital days of education they can never recover. Recouping the fines through child benefit, along with other changes to the overall system, will strengthen and simplify the system. It would give head teachers the backing they need in getting parents to play their part.’

Taylor will be submitting his report, commissioned by Education Secretary, Michael Gove, as part of his recommendations to tackle regular absences by school children.

Summer school holidays could be cut to just four weeks

Michael Grove, Education Secretary, has this week called for drastic changes to the current school holiday system. The changes would see families given just a four week summer break to take a holiday.

Mr Groves reforms could lead to British children havign the shortest summer holiday in Europe. Traditionally state-educated children have had a six-week break between July and September.

The changes would include changing from three to six terms per year, with schools possibly lengthening their hours. Those serving large numbers of working parents could stay open for 51 weeks a year, closing only over Christmas.

Compared with school’s across Europe, British children already have one of the shortest holidays. In America they get between 10-12 weeks, in Greece and Italy it’s 12 weeks, in Austria and France it’s 9 weeks. Only Germany has a 6 week holiday the same as he UK.

Powers granted by Mr Gove to free schools and academies last year saw them take control of their own pay, conditions and term dates, and would allow them to change the traditional school timetable.

In a speech to the Policy Exchange think-tank in London, Mr Gove highlighted the Norwich Free School, where ‘the school premises will be open for six days each week, 51 weeks of the year’ from September. It will close only for bank holidays and the week of Christmas, and adopt a six-term structure with a four-week summer break.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, hit out at Mr Gove’s latest plans. ‘For schools to be open six days a week, 51 weeks of the year, is not what we need,’ she said.

‘Children and young people are after all entitled to a family life.

‘It is also essential that they have time to relax and recharge their batteries after a long and often intensive week at school.

‘This idea, although not new, is ridiculous.’