Sir Richard Branson Calls For Change To Rules On Term-Time Holidays

Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson has called for an end to the crackdown on parents who take their children on term-time holidays.

The Virgin Atlantic boss said holidays were a massive part of childhood and children 'may well learn more than they ever could in a classroom'.

He spoke out after mum Janice Skelcher and her husband were prosecuted after they took their children out of school to visit family in Australia.

She said the trip had to be during term time as she's a full-time carer for her dying mother-in-law and that was the only time she could arrange alternative care.

But Janice and her husband were prosecuted, given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £400 costs.

Writing on his blog, Sir Richard, a father of two, said he 'wholeheartedly supported Skelcher in her campaign to allow parents to take their kids on holiday during school term-time. It is really important that kids spend as much time travelling and learning as possible, from a young age'.

He added: "I echo her call for the government to give greater support and flexibility for parents to enable them to more effectively care for their children.

"If there is no other time when parents can afford - financially or time-wise - to take a holiday, they should not be punished for doing so during term."

Sir Richard, who left school at 16, went on: "Some of my happiest memories are of childhood holidays - some during term-time, some not. If your holiday has to be in term-time, so be it - just ensure children get the chance to travel. They may well learn more than they ever could in a classroom."

New rules introduced in September mean that the 10 days of discretionary absence teachers used to be able to apply in 'special circumstances' must now only be applied in 'exceptional circumstances'.

Fines are to be issued to parents who take pupils out of school when leave has not been granted.

The hardening of the Government's stance against absenteeism has been strongly criticised by parents groups.

Janice Skelcher has petitioned MPs to overturn the tightening up of the law and more than 200,000 families have signed the petition.

Some are hoping to take legal action in Europe in protest. Citing their right to enjoy a family life, members of the campaign group 'Parents want a say' want to seek a judicial review of the ban on term time holidays introduced last autumn.

Do you think Richard Branson is having his cake and eating it - hiking up holiday prices while talking about importance of holidays?