Upload a photo Upload a video Upload an mp3 Upload an event

News » WAB Debate

New School Holiday Rules - A WAB Debate

Monday January 20 2014

We Are Barnsley We Are Barnsley

A COUPLE were fined for taking their three children on holiday during school term. After the case went to court, they were given a £1,000 penalty for the week-long holiday which went against Department of Education policy.

Do you think this is unfair? Should parents have the right to take their kids out of school for holidays? Have your say on our WAB Debate.

Stewart and Natasha Sutherland, from Telford, Shropshire, originally refused to pay a £360 fine.

It doubled after they failed to pay within 21 days.

The Department of Education has given schools more power to deal with unauthorised absence -and has also increased the amount parents can be fined.

A spokesman said: "Poor attendance at school can have a hugely damaging effect.

"Children who attend school regularly are nearly four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs than those who are regularly absent.

"Parents should never simply discount a possible penalty notice from the cost of a cheaper holiday, because this is a criminal offence and when doing so they're always risking prosecution."

What do you think to this? Have your say on our WAB Debate.

Leave a comment
comments powered by Disqus
44 Showing 44 comments

Reply Posted by Teacher on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:11
I'm a teacher, so I can't go away out of the holidays. However, if I wasn't a teacher I'd take my kids out without batting an eyelid. The government have renaged on their promise to control holiday companies from hiking their prices too much during the holidays so why should we listen to them when it suits them? I'd take the fine; I'd even go to court because I think it's penalising hard working families who just dont have a few grand spare to go during the holidays. Some parents can't have holidays in the school holidays so what are they supposed to do? Also, parents who are in the Armed Forces have to go whenever their leave dictates. One rule for them...

Reply Posted by STEVEO on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 22:52
The Tories renaged on their promise to bring the tour operators to boot as one of them is a Tory party donator.
Nuff said?

Reply Posted by Pam on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:16
I have a disabled daughter there is no way she could cope peak season it's too busy and too dangerous.

So should she never have a holiday? Bugger that she suffers enough.

What about parents who cannot get time off work in school holidays?

What about those that are in poorly paid jobs that can only afford a cheap out of season break

Or are only the rich allowed to take holidays?

Reply Posted by jo on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:20
I believe it depends on the amount of time a child is absent as if a child is consistently absent then this will undoubtedly have a negative effect but if its just one week and the school are made aware i cannot see a problem with it. I myself took my 2 children out of school last year in july, it was the last week of school before they were to break up for their 6 week holiday and the holiday was half the price it would have been if we had have gone the following week. my children had not missed a vast amount of school and it has not had a negative impact on their education whatsoever. I cannot afford to pay the prices that holiday companies see fit to charge during school holidays but I also feel that taking a family holiday where we all spend valuable quality time together is just as important as a good education.

Reply Posted by PJ on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:24
Just another excuse for the government to impose unfair costs on working people. Rather than stop holidays in term time completely, better to set simple boundaries - eg no more than 2 weeks in one year, or one week in any one term. Many life skills can be learnt during holidays away with your family - as well as time to relax & enjoy yourselves together. Understandably, many people can't afford to travel in the holidays - even within the UK, never mind abroad!! Also - some councils (Leeds, for example,) have set their own boundaries - no more than one week in one term & you won't be fined! Surely if the ruling has been imposed by the government, it should be the same countrywide!!

Reply Posted by screw the gov on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:26
If u pay a fine it would still be cheaper than a peaktime holiday. Personally id just phone school and say kids have a stomach bug or chicken pox and take them out of school for a week. Britain is turning into a controlled country rather than the free country our grandads gave us beating the nazis

Reply Posted by Vince on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:30
Holidays are part of a child's learning experience whether abroad or in this country dependant on their attendance during the year there should be flexibility to enable this learning experience with strict guidelines this is achievable until the holiday firms are brought under control re pricing then this will always happen however can you imaging the economies in the holiday places if all children just went away out of term time it would be constant boom and bust. I understand the principle of supply and demand but local emonomies in holiday places could not cope they have to lay people off in the winter/out of season periods at present but with boom and bust of short weeks this would be impossible to manage.

Reply Posted by kaz on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:33
I take my children out of school every year theres no way I'd pay an extra 400 plus to go in school holidays I work hard for my holidays am not penalised for this government.. My children are not behind with there school work and they have 100 percent attendance so I dont see harm.

Reply Posted by anon on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:37
Schools in Barnsley are so bad, the kid probably got a better education whilst away! The school should be paying the parents in cases like this!

Reply Posted by Sophie on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:38
Its a joke some parents cant afford hols during school hols you be able to take your kid(s) where u please who are the government to say otherwise you are in charge of them u are the parent no-one else! Gcse's really come on we're in 2014 everyone knows you only need gcse's for college or uni i was told this and that back in the day at school once i left my gsce's didnt mean a damn thing about getting a job i wagged it i went away during school time and i gained 10 gsce's

Reply Posted by . on Monday January 20 2014 at 15:32

Reply Posted by johnston mcreedy on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:43
↑ I dont even want to point out the irony.

Reply Posted by . on Monday January 20 2014 at 15:33

Reply Posted by liz on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:46
Didnt do me any harm if anything it gave me a better education we went through Europe every year and my dad made us ask for things and find ways to make sure we were understood. We experienced so much more in terms or cultures language and travel in general if schoola thought about it they could do a project on what they have done . I finished school with 13 gcses and was off for holidays and sickness etc . Nowadays my three oldest had three days off ill and because they were ill at the same time I wastold the eeducation welfare officer was going to visit. School is not everything kids need downtime too and its made it impossible for us to go away now we cant afford to it would be a push off peak so going in school holidays is out of the question.

My kids arent behind if anything they are in front of the schools targets. And even when I did take them out of school we made sure they did some kind of educational activity they did reading and writing etc. But the schools wont even give you the work they would be doing to take with u

Reply Posted by Jo on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:48
Some firms are now restricting holidays in the school holidays so where does this leave families. How come the governments are only ever capable of dealing with one side of a problem instead of presenting a total solution.
People who pay into the system are always asked to pay more. If you work hard you pay hard.

Reply Posted by Tory and proud on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:54
Simple solutions.
1, pay the fine
2, pay the extra holiday cost
3, dont have children
4, shut up moaning


Reply Posted by lauren on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:56
I'm taking my kids out of school in June and I've already told the kids school I will be taking them out. I will be paying the fine if I have to. My partner can not get any other time off work. He's limited to that week so it's tough as far as I am concerned we need family time been together for many years and this will be our first family vacation aboard. I will be speaking to their teachers and hopefully they will give me the work so they can catch up. So I personally think it's pathetic. Might be going on holiday but they will not miss out on their work so I don't see the problem.

Reply Posted by mark on Monday January 20 2014 at 12:59
so its ok for school to take kids on holliday for a week but parents can,t
what a joke.

Reply Posted by Anon on Monday January 20 2014 at 13:01
My wife works in an environment where there are 200+ women most with children her company only allows 15 people off a time I work for a company where in my position only allows 2 people off per time how am I supposed to organise holidays out of term time around this my children learn on their holidays it is an excellent learning experience the government need to understand learning is not just in the classroom I am a governor of my child's school it is not the teachers or heads that create this issue it is the government imposing rules and targets. Cut down the 6 weeks holidays to 4 weeks and have 2 floating weeks parents can choose 6 weeks had always been too long even for the kid who are generally bored by the end the argument around this is the teachers are there so have rules eg no more than 5 off per class of 30 at any one time the the government would then see their targets been met

Reply Posted by Student on Monday January 20 2014 at 13:07
I went on holiday in term time, gained 15 GCSE's, 3 A-levels and I am now studying for a degree in London. There should be no problem in taking children out of school for a week as long as the parents make the concious effort to ensure the child catches up. People shouldn't assume that teachers are babysitters. Teachers cannot have holidays out of term time either. Teachers often work 12 hour days for a pittance of a wage, deal with abuse at work and are snowed under by that much paper work, the system is a joke. Instead of taking things out on teachers, who work really hard to ensure some children have a good start in life when half of the parents (not mentioning any names) clearly don't enforce learning in their children or care if they 'wag it'. Take it out on the government, not the teachers.

Reply Posted by Anon on Monday January 20 2014 at 13:09
Really easy, just have school all year round and give kids their own annual leave...

Reply Posted by lisa harrison on Monday January 20 2014 at 13:12
it's disgusting, every child is entitled to a holiday whether it's overseas or in their own country...not every parent who does work are on a teachers or headmaster or mistress salary...my children go on holiday during term time, but i always tell the school that my kids are ill....as long as it's not during their sats or gcse's then no one has the right to penalise families for a holiday....

Reply Posted by Teacher on Monday January 20 2014 at 13:15
You speak of a teachers salary.... A teachers salary is a pittance compared to the cost of the degree needed to do it/the training provided! I wish I could afford a lovely bloody holiday in term time but unfortunately I can't. I save for two years in order to go on a nice one, instead of going on one every year for the sake of it. Why can't parents understand this?

Reply Posted by Anon on Monday January 20 2014 at 13:43
I took my sons out of school for 5 days last oct. Both schools unauthorised my request. I've reviewed a fine for only one child. So I know now that the school still have the choice to inform the LEA or not. This rule is supposed to be set in stone isn't it? It's a complete joke. I have contacted the education department by email regarding the whole fine and the fact that I wasn't able to get holidays I'm the summer when everyone wants them. The lady dealing with me wanted me to ring her, I refused as by a phone call I have no evidence of the conversation for when I go to court. I heard nothing until I emailed back and she informed me that as I never rang her, they discussed me In a meeting and the fine still stands. It's just another corrupt money making scheme and the state telling us what and when we can do with our children.

Reply Posted by Nicola on Monday January 20 2014 at 13:57
I believe it is up to the individual school whether to impose the fine or not, I completely agree that as a blanket rule it is wrong, but then when does a blank rule ever work, each family, each child is different. I took mine out of school during term time for 1 day to attend a family wedding. I spoke to the head who mentioned this new rule and said he basically couldn't sanction the time off. He said the absence request form was a joke because they not allowed to authorise any absences during term time, unless for an unavoidable medical reason. But he did say that it was up to him to recommend the action, this could be nothing or report to the LA and recommend a fine. Ion our case he did nothing. Both my children are achieving well at school and I don't believe a few days off once a year will effect them dramatically, however the school have sent my son home twice now with a stomach upset and said he can't go back for 48 hours. When I've got him home he's been absolutely fine, no tummy problems at all, both times he's had a bit of wind which has caused him some discomfort, but he's missed 4 days of school with no work sent home for him to do so his education can't be that important to them

Reply Posted by alfie on Monday January 20 2014 at 14:26
I believe the father of this family couldnt get any other two weeks leave? Also his company try to keep as much staff to give maximum service as possible. it wasnt in exam weeks either so what was the problem? Just the government using headmaster as debt collectors?

Reply Posted by Anon on Monday January 20 2014 at 15:21
Two Points:
1) There is a huge difference between "not attending school regularly" and taking 1-2 weeks off a year for a holiday.
2) If missing 5 days of school in a year is so detrimental to a childs education (particulary in Primary school), then they are fitting too much in to one week. Yes when they are doing exams etc. but who would book a holiday during their childs GCSEs?

Reply Posted by . on Monday January 20 2014 at 15:34
Book the holiday, don't tell the kids, phone them in sick for a week. Sorted.

Just make sure they're using factor 50 as a well suntanned kid may raise suspicion.


Reply Posted by Dot Com on Monday January 20 2014 at 16:40
when this law was brought in the government was supposed to restrict the levy that holiday companies hiked on the price during school holidays, this never came off, but the stupid law that stops parents from taking their kids out of school during term time is paying dividend now with the fines almost as much as the levy they charge any way ! just another case of rip off Briton,

Reply Posted by reds on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 01:28
Who the hell Is anyone to tell you when you can a can not take your kids on holiday? Stuff paying a fine especially if you already pay a fortune to them scum bags bmbc! If you pay council tax your paying towards education and if you take your kids out of school its there loss not the schools and its probably a good thing at least its one less kid in the class might give other kids a chance seen as tho there all packed into these super schools. They say we live in a democracy??? More like a dictatorship country makes me bloody mad. Just another way of fleecing money out of poorer people. Its about time people stood up to these scum bags we call the government!!!

Reply Posted by AHR on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 13:15
Rip off Britain again, and nothing will change especially with the rich MPs coming down on people like a ton of bricks. They can afford to go anywhere during their long summer recess , about time something was done eh Mr Gove !

Reply Posted by only one on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 18:08
Going abroad is a privilage not a right. No matter the subject, people always seem to think they're entitled to something that they're not. Save up or go to Skeggy.

Reply Posted by Me on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 18:10
If taking a child out of school for a short period during term time is detrimental to their education....can parents start imposing a penalty on teaching staff , schools and the education when they take strike action and close schools...or when the first snowflake falls from the sky and they send children home and close schools....hmmm thought not ! Hypocritical to say the least!

Reply Posted by Sarah on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 18:44
What's the problem if holiday weren't so expensive it school holidays then kids wouldn't be taken out of school its the only way we can afford for them to go away

Reply Posted by Sheena Hall on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 18:55
It's not only to do with price. These days most parents work & if only a small company not enough school holidays for all the staff to have 2 week each we have 8 staff & can onlycover 1 member of staff off at once .so some people really do have no choice.

Reply Posted by dene on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 19:01
whats the difference in having a weeks holiday, and being ill , you have time off if you are ill, so next time you are going away tell them your child is sick ,,

Reply Posted by king louis on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 19:16
they always say no to any holidays.. I worked for a building company that did work on schools when they shutdown so i was not allowed any time off when the schools were shut.. I provided the contract to the school to explain the situation... result £100 fine... Phone in and say the kids are sick everytime

Reply Posted by Anon on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 20:47
What about when teachers strike?? Does that have a effect on our children's education?? It's ok when it suits them for kids not to be at school!

Reply Posted by Mrs day on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 23:49
It's a ridiculous thing which is just making things harder for hard working families AGAIN! Everyone deserves a break and holidays are so important to families....why should we deprive our children of that quality time...I will be taking my kids out of school for a holiday wether school likes it or not, my kids come first and that's that...the government should be ashamed!!!!

Reply Posted by paulette on Thursday January 23 2014 at 07:53
I took my boys on holiday last year, in term time as this was the only time I could afford to go, due to prices of hols being ridiculously high in the school hols. Thought I would 'do the right thing' by submitting a hol form n being honest stating that the reason I wanted to take my boys out of school was for a family hol. It obviously got declined and came back unauthorised, but I wasnt going to change my mind about treating my boys to a holiday which I had saved hard for. A week before our hol, I got a letter from my eldest boys school saying that school would be closed on one of the days we would be away due to 'strike action'. We went away and had a fab holiday, giving us all some much needed family and stress free time together. And my boys had not fallen behind for the sake of missing 4 days of school. 3 months after the hol, a fine came through the post for my eldest boy, which I have ignored, and if I do have any further correspondence about it, I will fight against it. Parents cannot win, this government is trying to squeeze every penny they can out of the hardworking, and they seem determined to stop families from being able to enjoy an affordable family holiday together. And the travel companies are free to screw families with charging extortionate prices for holidays in the school hols. It is a parent trap, and I like many other parents have signed a national petition to try to put an end to the trap. And when I can afford to take my boys away again, I will be ringing each of their schools to inform them my boys will be off sick for a week......

Reply Posted by anon on Friday January 31 2014 at 13:56
I've never taken my kids out of school for a full week but have had a couple of long weekends away (last year and the year before) so they've had a Friday and a Monday off. However, my eldest daughter used to suffer from terrible migraines and would have one a month, she would throw up with them and 9 times out of 10 it would happen at school! The staff at school knew about them since year 3 in primary and were always very good about it-if she was sick at school due to a migraine they would still let her come back the next day as they knew it wasn't a bug. But when she reached year 6 they started being funny and even though they knew about the migraines they would make her have 48 hours off school! So when it came to taking her out last May for those 2 days, they were umming and aahing about me getting a fine or not because her attendance was 95.6% or something and they like a minimum of 96%. So obviously i knew it was their fault why her attendance was a little low cos they made me keep her off longer than she should have been kept off. I told them in no uncertain terms that i would appeal against the fine should i be issued with one as if it wasn't for them her attendance would have been higher. I never got the fine

Reply Posted by anon on Friday January 31 2014 at 14:03
All families deserve a family hol together and even caravan hols at the coast can almost double in summer etc. I think they should do away with these fines. If your kids are doing well at school then what's the problem?

Reply Posted by Alex on Friday March 28 2014 at 15:52
Ironic that a weeks holiday during term time can have such an effect on our childrens education, however teacher training days and strike days don't? One training day / strike day costs me additional expenses, which I don't get back, yet I will be fined for taking my children away from their education for a week? Just another way the government has found to make money from the poorest in order to prop up the under funding of the education departments!

Reply Posted by Gary Bennett on Sunday July 20 2014 at 20:58
So here is a thought, My eldest daughter is 19 years old. Up to the age of 12 she NEVER went on holiday in the school holidays . She went when my Railway employer rostered holidays were allocated. In her A levels last year she got an A in Physics, an A in Maths, and an A in Psychology!!Her education suffered? NO! She is now training to be an accountant. my son who is now 15 and approaching his last year in high school never went on holiday during school holidays up till he was 10, he is on target to pass ALL his GCSE exams! His education has suffered? NO! We now come to my 4 year old daughter whom starts reception in September, What we are now being instructed is that if my rostered annual leave falls during term time my 4 year old can NOT have a summer holiday or we as parents face becoming criminals!! Let me ask you Teachers, IS THIS FAIR? course it isn't but in your self important, bitter and greedy world you say its " Not our fault its government legislation"! Absolute rubbish! you have been pushing for this for years because you are so bitter and envious that you have to take your holidays in some of the 14 weeks a year that you do NOT work! REMEMBER it is YOU whom chose this vocation and you knew what this involved! Recently my 15 year old who is in the middle of his mock exams was sat at home while you were on STRIKE, you hypocrites!!! So, will my 4 year old go for X number of years go without a holiday?? NO, we will become criminals and go on holiday in term time and if it comes to it I will see you in court!! Hang your head in shame Cameron!!! I will never vote again as None of you represent the WORKING man!!!!