Should parents be fined for taking their kids on holiday during term?


Hey everyone, hope you’ve had a great weekend. You may have noticed my complete absence from Money Bulldog last week and that’s because Mrs.B and I took ourselves off for a much deserved break with our two young boys. What was supposed to be a cheap few days away though almost turned out to be just as expensive as a full-blown family holiday! Why?

Well it’s all because of a new – and as far as I’m concerned not all that well publicised – UK law about taking your kids on holiday during term time. Anyway, I thought I’d use todays post to publicise this new law a little more so other parents out there don’t find themselves landed with a £120 fine per parent, per child – That’s right. I said per parent, per child! – by booking a holiday out of term time. So if both of our boys had been in school we could have been fined £480.

When did the new law come into effect?

One of the reasons we were so shocked when we were told that we might be getting hit with a £240 fine just for taking our kids away for a few days is that we’d already had the trip approved with no problems by the school my eldest son Isaac was due to go to for the first time in September 2013. Due to a place coming up at a school in our preferred location however, our plans changed meaning we had to re-apply for the leave of absence at the new school, this is where we ran into trouble. The new law introducing a fine of £120 per parent for taking children away during term time only came into effect on the 1st of September 2013, which is why we had not had any problems when applying at Isaac’s original school.

Does it apply to everyone?

This is where the new law gets even more confusing, so you’ll have to do some research to find out whether you could be in line for a fine yourself if you have booked a holiday this year. As I understand it, the new law does not apply to everyone in the country as individual councils have the power to decide whether or not they want to enforce it. As the law will potentially bring in some much-needed revenue for councils across the country I’d be surprised if many of them choose not to implement it but you never know, you might be one of the fortunate ones who live in an unaffected district, so be sure to ring your local council.

Do any special circumstances apply?

Fortunately for Mrs.B and I the answer to this question was yes, special circumstances can be taken into account at the discretion of the headmaster of your child’s school. Don’t get too excited though, ‘I have already booked it and paid for it’ probably won’t suffice. Something like the funeral of a relative might well be though, so it’s certainly worth putting in an application to the headmaster if you feel that special circumstances do apply.

In our case we were granted permission by the headmaster due to the fact that the travel had already been approved by Isaac’s previous school, which is why we booked and paid for the holiday in the first place. £240 saved, phew!

Is it right to fine parents?

Now for the question most people will likely have an opinion on, is it right for parents to be fined for taking their kids on holiday during term time??

I know many parents in the past who have chosen to take their kids away during term time simply because it’s so much cheaper to go at this time and they feel they can’t afford to go during the summer holidays when prices are so inflated. On the flip side we have the argument of whether going on holiday during term time will damage your child’s education?

What do you think? Is it right for parents to be fined for taking their kids away during term time or do you think these things should be considered on a case by case basis?

10 Responses to Should parents be fined for taking their kids on holiday during term?

  1. Dojo says:

    OK, sorry, but this is silly. It’s not like they’re doing any rocket science in school since in most countries people are usually displeased with the quality of the education system. And I don’t think it would kill anybody if my kid was to skip school for 5-7 days for a vacation with HER PARENTS, who are both pretty literate, so she could clearly do her homework.

    If it were for me, I’d home-school my kid, but it’s not an option in my country.

  2. I wonder if they have that here in the states. I think if a child is a student in good standing and keeps up with the work/curriculum on holiday as one would do if they were home schooled, there should be no penalty. My parents used to pull us out of school for a few days just before Thanksgiving each year. I’m pretty sure they lied about why though.

    • Adam Buller says:

      Yeah I’d be interested to know if you have it over there Stefanie. I do feel sorry for parents who literally can’t afford the inflated prices, after all I think there’s a lot to be gained from quality time away with the family experiencing other cultures.

  3. I almost laughed out loud at how ridiculous this is! As long as your kid can work ahead and finish all his homework/tests/etc. they should be able to take time off for a family vacation. So crazy governments are trying to FINE families for this!

  4. Stuart@DailyMoneyBucket says:

    It’s hard to believe isn’t it. I thought it was a joke when I first heard about this latest scheme.

    For example, where would a child learn more French; hunched over a book of verb tables for 3 years or spending a month in France during a family holiday?

    All I can suggest is that more parents think seriously about withdrawing their children from state education and forming their own private schools. That way they will have complete control over their children’s education.

  5. psychsarah says:

    While I don’t necessarily agree with this policy, some schools are funded based on attendance records (e.g., how many students were physically present that day) so if a lot of parents did this routinely, the school’s budget could be quite negatively impacted, compared to projections (based on the number of kids enrolled and number of days of school).

    Philosophically, I would defer to parents on what is best for a particular child (e.g., are there educational opportunities from traveling, will your child fall behind if they miss days of instruction, are you prepared to work with your child to catch up if necessary) but we also have to be aware of the systems at work around us, including funding of school boards and realize that such decisions are not made in a vacuum.

    • Adam Buller says:

      Interesting to hear a different perspective Sarah. Do you not think it plays out equally at the end of the day though, or do some schools have a lot more kids going on holiday during term time than others? I suppose it might also be worth looking at the way school records are kept. Could holidays confirmed with the school in advance not be classed as though the child has been in attendance for example, with the option of a fine if the holiday was not confirmed in advance? I’m no expert in school systems so this is just a thought.

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