This year's late Easter and double whammy of bank holidays provides the golden opportunity for an extended trip to a dream destination. But if your kids are school age, you may have to cut back on your daydream time as the race is on to snap up a family holiday within those fixed parameters of school holidays.
Yet with savings of up to 70% to be made on holidays during term time, according to travelsupermarket.com, aren't you just a little bit tempted to take the kids out of school?
Mum of three Sara says taking her kids, aged four, five and nine, out of school is the only way she can afford a family holiday. 'Last year we went to Tenerife and took three days off school which saved over £1,000.' In Sara's case the school granted permission; but when Joanna took her four and six-year-old sons with her on a 'once in a lifetime' work trip to Canada, she says she was 'made to feel like a criminal' after returning home to a warning letter from the head regarding 'unauthorised absence'.
So just what are the rules when it comes to taking your kids out of school?
While Government guidelines, as you'd expect, are very much against taking children out of school during term time; head teachers do have the power to authorise up to ten days absence a year, and more, in 'exceptional' circumstances.
Requests are judged individually depending on factors including your child's age, progress and attendance record. But whether you get permission or not is entirely down to the school, and not an automatic parental right.
If you don't get permission, or are refused and go anyway, (maybe pulling a 'sickie); schools can issue 'fixed penalty' fines as effectively you're allowing your kids to 'truant' from school.
But as Bob Atkinson from travelsupermarket.com says, 'a £50 - £100 fine isn't much of a deterrent when parents can save far more, in some cases, thousands of pounds, by taking a holiday during term time'.
The frustrating thing for many parents is when you do ask for permission and it's refused; only to then hear of other parents getting the go ahead. 'I asked for two days off last year,' says Dawn, a mum of two, 'we wanted to take the kids to Disney Paris for a long weekend and going in June was much cheaper than waiting till the summer holidays'. Dawn's request was refused with no explanation, 'yet I heard from another Mum that her request to take her three kids there in March got the thumbs up, which was annoying'.
But aside from the effect on our bank account with the potential 'savings' to be made; what effect does time out really have on your child' education?
Former teacher and mum-of-two, Glynis, believes term time holidays do no harm. 'I think it's fine at primary school and to around year nine but not during GCSE years, but I really don't think most kids education will suffer if they miss a week of school.'
As a mum myself, I'm not ashamed to say we enjoyed some great family holidays during term time while my daughter was at primary school, and on every occasion with the school's permission.
While I made sure we caught up with any homework missed and took school reading books for the week away; I still believe the advantages of 'hands on' learning when it comes to experiencing other cultures, languages and customs far outweigh any 'educational loss' a young child could suffer during a short term time holiday.
Do you take your kids out of school for cheap holidays?
Or do you believe it's selfish and harms their education?
Have you ever been refused permission and taken them anyway?
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