Researchers polled 2,000 parents about term-time holidays and found that strict rules set by schools – including fines for parents of children who take time off – haven’t discouraged them from booking a holiday outside of the summer break. Over 35 percent said the surge in holiday prices during the peak months of July and August means they simply can’t afford to take a break at any other time. Almost half of parents said taking a week off school wouldn’t affect their child’s learning.
Kay Dixon of online travel-agent Holiday Hypermarket, which commissioned the study, said: “We’re finding term-time holidays to be a real point of debate right now. Parents often argue that prices are higher during the summer months, so why should they miss out on a good deal? On the other hand, schools are really cracking down on absences and education is clearly important. But it’s interesting that many parents aren’t being deterred by the rules.”
The research also found that three in four parents said the rules surrounding term-time holidays are too strict, with many describing the fines as “a step too far”. In fact, only 16 percent said the new rules have discouraged them from taking their kids on a term-time break.
The average parent confessed they would allow their kids to miss four days off school for a trip abroad – almost a full school week. The trip would most likely to be a beach break, a cultural city trip or a visit to relatives who live out of the country, the results showed, and be an average of four hours’ flight away.
Travelling is as good as learning, according to 31 percent of the parents, who insisted their children would still gain an education due to being on holiday.
Many parents were so confident in their decision that six in ten said a break away from lessons would even improve their kids’ performance when they return. And apparently they aren’t alone – almost three quarters said they know other mums and dads who are of the same opinion.
As well as avoiding the peak-time prices during the summer months, 60 percent said going abroad in term-time instead boosts their family’s mood during winter. Seven in ten confessed they suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) symptoms during the cold winter months, such as a deflated mood, increase in appetite and lethargy. And 60 percent said they find their children suffer the same – and that giving them a break improves their wellbeing. Amazingly, over a fifth of parents even admitted they occasionally give their kids a day off school “as a treat”.
The threat of being fined also wouldn’t frighten 69 percent of parents, who said they would tell their child’s teacher they were taking them on a holiday, no matter what the consequences.
Kay Dixon said: ‘’Many feel that UK winters are tough to get through, particularly when you have a family to entertain. Getting outside as much as possible can often help, whether that be on holiday or at the weekends.”