The regulations, which came into force on 1st September 2013, have come under sharp opposition from parents. A campaign started by Craig Langman (a parent himself) urges the Government to overturn the new regulations. The campaign has so far gained more than 129,906 signatures from likeminded people.
Until recently head teachers had the authority to permit children to take up to 10 days off school in ‘special circumstances’. However, since 1st September 2013 head teachers no longer have this discretion and may only grant a school absence during term time in ‘exceptional circumstances’ which is very unlikely to cover a family holiday.
The petition, hosted by the website ‘38 Degrees – Campaigns By You’ asserts that the new regulations ‘will adversely affect many families who cannot afford the cost of a holiday in school holidays’ furthermore stating that ‘good parents or parents that work full time should not be criminalised for wanting to enjoy an affordable annual family holiday’.
Petitioners’ main concerns were the repercussions of such a ban, many stating that the ban will prevent them from having an annual family holiday during the designated school holiday periods due to the escalated holiday prices during these times.
The Department of Education has considered the consequences of the new regulations and is encouraging schools to set their own term times in order to offer school holidays outside of the traditional school holiday periods thereby enabling families to book affordable holidays.
There is clearly a need for balance when it comes to encouraging school attendance and allowing some time off for families to take holidays during term time. Perhaps each request should be considered on a case by case basis dependant on school attendance and child achievement generally. Perhaps there was no need to remove entirely, the 10 day ‘special circumstance’ discretion or perhaps the Government could ban holiday companies/tour operators from doubling their holiday prices during school holidays!
The above is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.
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