International Currency Exchange (ICE) analysed holiday prices from several travel agents, after their Freedom of Information requests revealed parents paid more than £4 million in fines over the last academic year for taking their children on term-time holidays without school permission.
ICE compared holiday prices for June and August at three and four-star hotels for a family of four across a number of destinations in Europe and Florida. They found that parents who go away during school holidays pay an average of 59% more than they would during term time, costing an extra £1,205.
One example showed a trip to Disney World Florida outside of school holidays was £1,900 cheaper, while holidays to the Algarve, Majorca and Gran Canaria all offering term-time savings of over £1,000.
“It is interesting to see how much parents are willing to risk in order to go on holiday with their children during term time but, with tour operators and airlines charging high prices for families to go abroad during the school holidays, many will see a £60 fine as a price worth paying for a cheaper getaway,” said Louis Bridger, general manager at ICE.
Bridger did acknowledge that prosecution is a “real risk” for parents who do decide to take their children on holiday during term time. “We recommend that parents instead look to shop around when looking for a summer break, and look to make savings in other areas, such as their travel money, to make up the extra cost of going away during the school holidays,” he said.
Term-time price differences for popular holiday destinations:
1. Florida, US - £1,902.
2. Algarve, Portugal - £1,493.
3. Gran Canaria, Canary Islands - £1,279.
4. Majorca, Spain - £1,039.
5. Cosa del Sol, Spain - £843.
*Source: ICE, based on a family of four.
Councils issued almost 85,000 fines during the 2016-17 academic year, totalling £4.1 million, according to Freedom of Information responses obtained by ICE last week [March 2018].
The figures revealed that parents in Lancashire received the highest number of fines (5,768), followed by Bradford (5,256) and then Leeds (4,735).
The research also revealed just how profitable these fines can be for councils, with Bradford council receiving £284,830 in fines during the 2016/17 academic year – up 18% year on year from £240,560. Lancashire Council received the second highest amount in fines – bringing in £271,380.
The news follows statistics from the Department of Education, released last month, showing that 3.65 million school days were lost in 2015/16 to holidays that were not authorised by a headteacher in England.
When HuffPost UK asked a Department for Education spokesperson to respond to ICE’s findings, they said: “Children only get one chance at an education and evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chances of achieving good GCSEs,” they said. “Therefore we believe that no child should be taken out of school without good reason – and the Supreme Court agrees with us. The rules on term-time absences are clear and we have put schools back in control by supporting them – and local authorities – to use their powers to deal with unauthorised absence.”
How to slash holiday costs:
MoneySavingExpert (MSE) has a list of 14 tips to ensure you get the best deal for your family holiday, whenever and wherever you end up going.
1. Double and triple check your hotel stays. Before you book any hotel, check who is selling it cheapest out of Trivago, Booking.com, TravelSup or TripAdvisor. Always then call the hotel itself to see if it’ll beat the price.
2. Try getting school holiday flights at term-time prices. MSE revealed the Easyjet Flexifare trick means you could switch the date by a few weeks and bag cheaper holiday flights. Read the full step-by-step here.
3. Booking early wins, The Flight Insight tab on comparison site Momondo shows the perfect time to book for each destination is 53 days ahead.
Read the rest of the tips here.
What do you think of the term-time holiday fines? Would you pay the fine in order to get a cheaper holiday? Let us know what you think in the comments below, or drop us an email at email@example.com.