Do you take kids out of school during term time to save money on holidays? Well, that could be about to stop!
Parents at a UK school are risking fines of £1,000 per child – and per parent – if their child skips school to go on holiday.
That’s £4,000 (over AU$7,000) for a family with two children and two parents. AY CARAMBA! Should it happen here too?
The current fine system in place in Lancashire, UK, for taking children on holiday during term time isn’t working so they’re pulling out the big guns. Is it too extreme though? And what happens if our schools follow?
Holiday no no
Children skipping school for unauthorised holidays or breaks during the term isn’t taken lightly in the English county of Lancashire, it appears. Last year the council issued 7,575 fines at a fixed rate of £120 (around AU$216) per child. This was nearly 700 more fines that the previous year, prompting a new get-tough approach.
Upping the ante
In order to deter parents from taking trips when it suits them instead of during official school holiday periods, Lancashire County Council has now upped the fine to £1,000 per child, per parent. So if you have two kids and two parents, that’s £4,000 (over AU$7,000) your school-skipping family needs to fork out. This means any cash you save NOT travelling in school holidays goes straight back to the school – and then some.
The controversial new system aims to crack down on the number of kids missing classes. It’s currently in the pilot stage, but is expected to spread to other schools at any moment. And we’re pretty sure there will be a LOT of unhappy campers.
What about Australia?
Going on holiday during school term is the only way many Aussie families can afford a break. Flights and accommodation are usually thousands of dollars more expensive during peak school holiday times. But do you get in trouble here if skipping school for holidays?
Well, the rules are different in each state and territory, but there aren’t any strict fines or other penalties in place for taking kids on holiday in term time. It IS frowned upon and discouraged though – particularly in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. Most schools require advance notice of any scheduled breaks outside of school holidays. Parents have been fined for allowing truancy, but those cases don’t involve family holidays. So while schools and officials say “don’t do it”, there’s no real rules to stop it.
While parents may not think much of kids skipping a week or two here and there (especially in the younger years), the reason it’s viewed so negatively by the education system is because children can suffer from long absences – missing out on important lessons and falling behind academically, or even socially. So even though there isn’t any financial consequences for us Aussies taking advantage of the discount family travel packages in term dates, thinking about how it might affect your children at school is something to consider.
On the flip side, travelling to new places and experiencing different cultures and people can benefit a child’s wider education. It sparks a lot of new questions and conversations – so there are some positives to doing it as well.
How to go about it
If you want to take your child out of school this year for a family holiday (or another valid reason), the best thing you can do is chat to your child’s teacher first. Then write an official letter to the school advising of the dates they will be absent and why. The teachers may recommend some homework so they don’t fall behind in class. This is probably more on a case-by-case basis looking at both the individual child and the school requirements.
Thinking about taking a family holiday this year but not sure if it will fall in or out of term? Here are all the Australian school term dates for 2019 to help you get organised.