By Leonie Stanton
A TEACHING union has criticised travel companies for penalising parents by inflating prices of holidays outside of term-time.
It comes as the Supreme Court decides if parents taking their children out of school should be made illegal.
Families are forced to pay up to three times more for holidays – or else face being fined by education authorities eager to crack down on pupils skipping lessons.
A spokesperson for teaching union NASUWT said: “We have a lot of sympathy with parents over the high cost of holidays during school breaks.”
The policy on unauthorised term-time absences in England became tougher following the establishment of new guidelines in 2013.
Parents who take their children on unauthorised holidays face a £60 fine, which increases to £120 if not paid within 21 days.
The Supreme Court is currently debating whether term-time holidays should be made illegal, after the High Court ruled in favour of a father, Jon Platt, who took his daughter on a term-time holiday to Florida.
Cheryl Clare, a mother from Leeds, believes that parents should not be fined for taking their children on term-time holidays.
She said: “Not only is it expensive to book a holiday out of term, it’s hard to organise that period off work. It is a fight to get the holidays off because everyone else that has children needs them too.”
Leeds City Council believes that there is a strong link between good attendance and achieving good results.
A primary school teacher from Leeds, who does not want to be named, said: “It is frustrating when students take time off for holidays, as it affects my ability to educate them.
“The week before half term, I taught a week on capacity which was a small but crucial part of the curriculum. If one of my children had been on holiday during this week they would have missed this content and they would have been left behind.”
When asked about the overall effect of term-time holidays on the education of students, the NASUTW spokesperson said: “It is difficult to justify taking children out of school during term-time, as we believe that school is very important and that every day counts.”
Number of unauthorised holidays has surged since new guidelines introduced
According to LOVEmoney, the number of parents being fined by councils has risen 177 per cent since guidelines were strengthened in 2013.
Nearly 23,000 fines were handed out to parents in the 2012/13 academic year for unauthorised term-time holidays, totalling nearly £1.4 million.
This increased to 63,639 fines in 2015/16* totalling £3.8 million.
*up to April 2016