This week a couple from Shropshire who took their three children on holiday during school term time have been taken to court and had to pay a total of £1,000 in fines and costs. The family fell foul of the new powers granted to schools by the Department for Education (DfE) to deal with unauthorised absence.
Until recently, head teachers had the power to grant students up to 10 days leave a year for family holidays. The rules now state that children can only be taken from school in “exceptional circumstances” which would not normally include a term-time holiday.
A DfE spokesperson 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 are always risking prosecution.”
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the rule change, this year more families than ever will be vying to book their breaks during the school holidays which is likely to drive prices even higher. With this in mind, here are some tips on how to keep the costs of travelling during the school holidays down:
Plan early – the peak time for booking is January so start looking now and track prices for a week or two in case special offers are introduced
• Travel midweek – midweek travel is nearly always cheaper than the weekend and you’ll find the airport a far more pleasant experience as well!
• Go in May – the Whitsun half term break is becoming increasingly popular but is still cheaper than the July and August peak, just bear in mind that you may need to head further south to find the sun.
• Or how about late August? – the last week of August usually offers the best value of the school summer holidays, if you can’t commit to booking early it is also your best bet for a cheap late deal
• Opt for Spain, Portugal or France – it’s simple economics, there are far more flights to and accommodation in Spain, Portugal and France than anywhere else in Europe, therefore the chance of finding a good deal is much higher.
If you are planning a family holiday, contact Discount Insurance today for a competitive quote on your travel insurance.