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Author Topic: Parents facing fines for term time holidays  (Read 7128 times)

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Offline Silky

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Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« on: April 18, 2014, 10:40:49 AM »
Oh I do love the Daily Mail for these stories. This family consistently take their holidays outin term time and are now facing fines for a jaunt to Australia....  Are the local authorities right to clamp down?:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2607370/The-mother-risking-jail-taking-children-holiday-term-time-As-millions-set-costly-Easter-breaks-family-refuse-play-rules-Justified-plain-selfish.html

Silky x
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Offline Purplejay

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2014, 03:10:53 AM »
Families who take multiple holidays during term term are one of the reasons for the clamping down and there there should be a limit. I thought M's primary school idea of 2 weeks (not during sats) was fair but of course they can't authorise that now. I have taken M out in the past but not for more than a week in a school year for a family holiday and then maybe an odd day or two for long weekends. I haven't contemplated it since the new ruling but I know others who have and so far one who has been fined and paid up following a ski trip. For them it was the only chance to go skiing due to price hikes. I know someone else who used to take their daughter out at least twice a year as did her dad, they were separated. Both parents weren't short of money but going in term time meant more and better holidays. Not sure I agreed with them taking her out so much - thats a month of school missed - maybe for something exceptional.. As with everything it is about balance. People take the piddle and then moan.

It seems the family in the article have had a rough time but they have had some good holidays too. Not sure how come they weren't aware of the new rules but still. They would be better paying the fine in my opinion. It doesn't seem fair that the fine is the same for 3 weeks as it is for a couple of days... You can save a fortune by flying a day or two either side of school hols while not really interfering with their education but now there is less incentive to try and do this as the fines are the same. I am all for children learning by experiences and the value of them seeing new countries, learning new languages and trying new foods but in many cases it just means a nicer hotel in the sun for mum and dad. Living without some of the usual facilities and roughing it a bit is character building  ;D

For most the new ruling doesn't mean no holidays, it means being a bit more creative. It is possible to have a holiday abroad in the school holidays without breaking the bank if you shop around. For example me and M are doing disneyland paris at feb half term 2015 - booked already doing the free kids under 12 and 4 days for price of 2 offers for early booking. We couldn't afford to go later in the year in term time or this year and yes it will be cold but we are so excited! Last year we did lots of weekend trips, didn't go abroad and I only took M out for a day (SV camping weekend). We had a great time visiting Cardiff, York, Scarborough(twice), Severn Valley, Wicksteed and the Peak district either in cheap hotels or camping :)
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Offline mumtoattitude

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2014, 02:09:20 PM »
It depends on their age too.  A few days at 7 years old may not make much difference.  During years 10 and 11 it could make a whole heap of difference.  Each lesson counts! 

Offline Cushion Plumper

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2014, 04:08:14 PM »
What makes me mad about this is it is very swift work to get working, law abiding families to court and fine them for taking the kids on holiday for one or two weeks during term time, but very long winded work (often not resulting in court) for parents who are on benefits (waste of time fining them) who don't bother sending their kids to school on a regular basis because they can't be arsed to get themselves out of bed in the morning, let alone the kids, and then spend the day drinking, smoking etc.  I know this may sound judgemental, but believe me, I've seen and worked with many families who fit this criteria and they have all sorts of help thrown at them to try and get them to be 'better parents' and have Family Intervention Support Workers and Social Workers who spend time with them.  The truancy workers from the County Council will give them a 10 week plan to improve their kids attendance before instigating fines, and so on...

I've taken my son out of primary school every year for one week for a summer holiday in June and he's had another week at some point to tag on to two weeks to go to Australia to see his dad.  Our Head Teacher was okay to authorise these as she had the 'ten day grace' option available to her until last year.  At Christmas she allowed the week before Christmas to be taken as an 'exceptional circumstance' for him to go and spend three weeks with his dad for his first Christmas and New Year with him in 7 years.  I've been told he won't be able to have a year in June this year and she would have to refer his absence to the LEA.  I can't risk this, because to go to court and get a fine and a conviction for this would have repercussions on my job.  However, due to the nature of my job I can't always get leave in the school holidays!

When he starts secondary school in September I did make the decision that I would not take him out of school from then on in term time because he'd have too much to catch up on when he came back, but if I look back on my life I always had two weeks abroad in term time with my parents right up until I was 16 and it didn't harm my education.  If anything, it gave me the confidence and sensibility to travel abroad on my own from 18 because I knew what to expect.  For those families who cannot afford to travel in school holidays then the opportunity to travel and experience time abroad will be missed out by many children.

In a nutshell, I think this is crap.  The only justice I can see from it is if the money from the fines is then given to the school's PTA to help fund things for the kids - or is this just another government incentive to take money from working families to fund MP expenses?!
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Offline WT4

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2014, 10:44:59 PM »
It's a sledgehammer solution to cracking a nut.

No more (or less) than is to be expected from big government desperate to cetralise control but delegate responsibility.
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Offline Pearl

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2014, 11:28:02 PM »
CP - No, the PTA doesn't get the money.  In fact, the schools themselves don't get to keep any money from the fines at all.  The rule is from central government and the money basically goes to bureaucratic coffers.  Hence yet another reason most schools I've worked with hate it (even if the heads and governors can't really say so publicly).  I'd say WT4's assessment was spot on.
"There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere."   --Jane Austen

Offline Purplejay

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2014, 09:22:16 AM »
I agree that the ruling is to strict and an easy way for government to make a few quid. They could have kept the 2 weeks grace and fined those who went over. Our head has sent letters saying it isn't his ruling and has no choice. CP it isn't fair to treat truency differently.

In terms of the repercussions of the fines, it is just like a fixed penalty notice at the first stage and cheaper if you pay straight away (like parking fines). It is only where people don't pay or are repeat offenders that I can see court action being taken. My friend paid her fine quickly as she is a solicitor. Court action would have to be declared to the law society if found guilty!

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Offline Tulip

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2014, 06:29:26 PM »
Why would the 2 week grace be necessary? Kids have 13 weeks a year off school (that's over 90 potential days that they can be somewhere else on holiday). Not sure it's a scheme to make money for the government, expect it costs more to police it. The law says kids have tô go to school in term time, if you break the rules you get fined. If you nick shopping from Tescos you get fined. Don't get me wrong, the cost of holidays in school holidays is crazy but that's a different matter.

Offline Cushion Plumper

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2014, 10:51:23 AM »
Stealing from Tesco and taking kids out of school in term time are two completely different things.  This is about greed and people using the school holidays to take advantage and make more money.

If Tesco was to make its food cheaper in the day when most people are at work and then put the prices up at 5pm and all weekend would you not be tempted to nip out of work during the day and do your shopping when it's at its lowest?

If Currys was selling a TV for £300 now but you knew it would be £700 in the school holidays would you buy it now or wait until the holidays?

A holiday I've been looking at is £518 per week each All Inclusive next week, but in the May half term its £958 each.  I don't get the child price for my son as I have to pay two adult prices for sharing a room with him.  That is a huge increase in price for the two of us.  If the holiday companies were not greedy and kept the prices standard all year round and found a compromise of say, £700 per person, then it wouldn't matter when you went as the price would always be the same.  If this was to happen then I think the problem would virtually be resolved, although it still may not be easy for working parents to always be granted their annual leave in school holiday times as there may be too much demand for this and not enough staff left to cover.

People are always greedy.  The same applies to restaurants who put their Sunday lunch prices up on Mothers Day and Fathers Day...
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Offline Foggy

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2014, 11:00:18 AM »
The situation could also be alleviated if schools were given the power to designate their own holiday periods. Although this would open up other "cans of worms", especially if you had children in different schools having different holidays!

Offline Tulip

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2014, 02:53:51 PM »
I have to disagree CP. Stealing from Tescos and taking children out of school without permission are not completely different, they are both against the law. It's not about greed but about acting in accordance with the law. I agree that greed plays a part in regard to the holiday companies but that is a separate issue. As for your comment about Tescos selling food cheaper during the day. Of course if that happened and I could leave work and go shopping (which I couldn't but that's irrelevant) then I would. That would be ok though as I would be saving money and I wouldn't face prosecution for doing so. I have taken my son out of school for a few days here and there and like you it's due to flying out to Australia. That was before when you were sort of allowed.  Have to say I'm not sue how I sit with this now and the next Oz trip will be next year.

Offline Cushion Plumper

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2014, 05:17:23 PM »
Mmmm, interesting Tulip.  Now you put it like that, it's like a law has been created to make it illegal to save money, thus making people pay a premium or be punished! 

As I stated earlier, a child can miss school for months on end (I've worked with a family with a 77% attendance rate) yet the parents have never faced a fine.  This is because they are completely useless parents  ::)  Why is it deemed unfair to take parents to court just because they haven't got a clue what is good for their kids but it's okay to take parents to court for giving their kids a holiday and family time together?  One law for one and another law for the other - treat every absence the same and I will agree this term time holiday absence should be penalised.

I didn't know you had Australia issues too.  I think a two week trip to Oz is not enough considering a day either side is spent travelling and then there's the jet lag to get over on arrival.  That takes it down to about 11 days there.  If it is for family visits (and not a holiday) then you should come under the Exceptional Circumstances category, so removal for one week to add on to a two week half term is not unreasonable in my opinion (not that my opinion counts of course!).  Otherwise, the only time for a decent trip is end of July and August in the main school holidays - and guess what?  They hike the prices up big time for those dates!

On another note - bearing in mind what you mentioned some months ago, check out the facebook page of Expat Stuck Mums and see what you think?
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Offline Foggy

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2014, 05:31:23 PM »
As I stated earlier, a child can miss school for months on end (I've worked with a family with a 77% attendance rate) yet the parents have never faced a fine.

I feel that there is a certain amount of "going for the soft targets" here ... people who do not usually break the law (such as it is) and will pay up without too much fuss.

Offline Tulip

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2014, 05:41:51 PM »
Oh I will take a look at that CP. Totally agree on the one rule for one and a different rule for others. I often wonder how they ensure families like the one you mentioned, home schooled kids and travellers don't have any more time off than allowed. Chances are they don't. The point I was making is rules are rules. No one is saying it's against the law to have holidays and family time. They are just saying do it in the 13 weeks given. I know the prices are crazy but I believe something needs doing regarding ensuring good education. I was appalled recently to read how low down the list the UK in quality  if education these days. We are even below some developing countries. Does it effect a smart kid to be taken out for the odd week or two, possibly not but it certainly would a not so smart one and if one does  it they all do it. Kids these days are are school for 13/14 years. Take a kid out for the 2 weeks extra each year and they are missing over 6 months of education. With a rapidly worsening education system this cannot be ok. 

One day CP we may well meet up and I will tell you about my Australia connection 

Offline Tulip

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2014, 05:45:34 PM »
Reading back my last post with incorrect words/spelling I'm thinking maybe I had lots of term time holidays!

Offline Cushion Plumper

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2014, 07:35:34 PM »
Reading back my last post with incorrect words/spelling I'm thinking maybe I had lots of term time holidays!

LOL.  Don't you preview before you post?!  :o
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Offline Cushion Plumper

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2014, 07:41:18 PM »
I feel that there is a certain amount of "going for the soft targets" here ... people who do not usually break the law (such as it is) and will pay up without too much fuss.

A bit like speed cameras me thinks!  Those who have their cars registered to themselves, hold driving licences and are insured are easy to trace...
on the other hand, those who keep buying cheap cars, never register them and drive without a licence or insurance...
It doesn't matter where you go in life, what you do or how much you have; it's who you have beside you...

Offline Foggy

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2014, 07:44:28 PM »
I feel that there is a certain amount of "going for the soft targets" here ... people who do not usually break the law (such as it is) and will pay up without too much fuss.

A bit like speed cameras me thinks!  Those who have their cars registered to themselves, hold driving licences and are insured are easy to trace...
on the other hand, those who keep buying cheap cars, never register them and drive without a licence or insurance...


Exactly !

Offline Tulip

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2014, 10:09:25 PM »
No I never preview! perhaps I should  :o To be honest I was watching telly at the same time.  Only after did I think I wonder if what I typed makes sense and had a quick look.  Cannot look when I am actually typing, then I would go very wrong.

Offline jenz

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2014, 08:33:18 PM »
This has reminded me I need to fill in the pointless 'holiday' form to take my son out in May for a long weekend to travel the 250 miles to my brothers wedding. It'll be refused, the same as the one last year for my parents 25th wedding anniversary, but sometimes you've just no choice. Still it's ok to close the school so that it can be used as a polling station (despite other suitable facilities very close by) - shame it doesn't coincide on the same day to save me the stress :-)

Offline Pearl

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Re: Parents facing fines for term time holidays
« Reply #20 on: April 29, 2014, 09:23:21 PM »
I thought I'd just speak to one of Tulip's questions about how they chase up Travellers and those who are home schooled.  I work for a local authority in the part of the council that does that. 

For home school, there are totally different rules.  The parents have to sign forms promising to do (effectively) the bare minimum.  In theory, someone could drop in to inspect them as with any school, but it doesn't actually happen much because no one can afford to do it.

For Travellers, there is a different school absence code just for when they are Travelling.  If they are on roll in a school and not registered as home educated (most Traveller children in primary are on roll at a school and go home educated for secondary), they will attend school elsewhere when they travel. When that happens, they will register with a school local to where their family are staying - they may only be there a couple weeks.  The school will ask where they were last and send a message back to that school so they can keep track of them.  Whichever school is listed as their "home" school gets the funding for that pupil.  Most Traveller families do a certain seasonal travel pattern so will have regular stops at schools that expect them at certain times of year.  These rules are also the reason that a Traveller camp (authorised or unauthorised) cannot be moved on until someone has come in to do an inspection for health (make sure no one is scary-ill or at death's door) and for education to ensure any children that should be in school are indeed there.
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