The injustice of fining parents for a family holiday

Parents are organising against the increasing habit of fining families who take their kids on holiday in term-time.

Fines for truancy have grown astronomically – from 3,483 in 2004-5, to 32,641 in 2011-12, to the record 52,370 in 2012-13. In many councils the majority of these fines are issued to holidaying families (two thirds of the total in Kent, for example).

Prosecutions for truancy have also grown, reaching 8000 in 2012-13. One couple recently received criminal records for taking their kids on holiday to Australia.

It is likely that fines in the 2013-14 school year will be greater still, after a regulatory change last September which removed headteachers’ discretion to approve term-time absences in ‘special circumstances’. A BBC survey suggested that fines could have risen by 70%, which would mean over 80,000 across England.

The campaign group Parents Want a Say point out that term-time holidays are essential for small businesses, public sector workers and military families, all unable to take their summer breaks in the same 6-week period. Family holidays may mean missed lessons, but they are extremely important for giving children new experiences, seeing something of the world, and for quality family time together.

The group also defends the principle that parents should be able to decide what is best for their children without government ‘interference’:

‘The responsibility of making decisions about our children should be put back in the hands of the parent. All children who have a good attendance record should be allowed to enjoy and benefit from experiencing time abroad with their parents on an annual holiday of up to 10 day per year.’

Quite right. Sign their petition here.

See the Manifesto Club campaign against on-the-spot fines.

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