Should parents take kids out of school for holidays?
If you’ve paid over the odds to cram into a crowded hotel during school holidays, a term-time trip seems like the obvious solution.
With everything from cheaper flights and hotels to packages, plus the promise of avoiding all the other families equally keen to get away, the temptation to jet off and swap your school uniform for swimming cossies on the beach can be very strong. But should you?
There’s evidence to suggest that holidays are good for all of us… and research showing, unsurprisingly, that missing too much school has an impact on GCSE results, especially once kids are absent for more than10% of the time.
Of course, if they’re about to sit exams or at a critical stage in the curriculum, swanning off around the world is unlikely to top most parents’ lists.
But when it can also disrupt relationships with teachers and schoolfriends, not to mention setting a poor example about the importance of good attendance, the cost of two weeks in the sun could well be too high.
On the flipside, being able to unwind and get away from home gives everyone something to look forward to, especially when times are tough.
And with the chance to discover new cultures and giving kids memories they will treasure forever, it’s hard to see how missing the occasional double maths will do much harm.
In fact, a report from charity Family Action suggests that the gap in children’s cognitive development between high and low income households is partly down to the different opportunities they have to experience new things. Hardly an unnecessary luxury in that case.
As term-time holidays potentially save up to £1,000 per trip, according to new research by Nationwide Building Society, even a fine from the school looks like a cheaper option.
Because leaving aside the moral and ethical implications, there are practical ones as well. Once they’ve turned five, you have to get permission from the school in advance if you want to take your kids away, although proposals for automatic fines were dropped last year leaving it at head teachers’ discretion.
And tempting though it might be to fabricate an excuse about family emergencies or illnesses, excited tanned kids babbling about the fun few days they’ve had means secret holidays are unlikely to stay very secret.
In a perfect world, there’d be no rise in prices during school holidays and parents would be able to take their annual leave whenever they wanted – and so children could get all the benefits of travel during the official breaks. Back to reality, it’s not quite so black and white.
So would you take your child out of school to travel?