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Holidays lottery lucky for some

Taking a half-term break after English schools have returned to work has meant more sun, sand and sangria to the pound for Welsh teachers this week.

Or at least most of them. Those in Powys, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire found themselves paying premium rates last week because their holidays coincided with the big autumn getaway in England.

Despite efforts by the teaching unions' Standing Conference for Education in Wales (SCEW), an agreement to harmonise holidays across Wales broke down. So teachers in those four areas joined the English in paying more for their week of autumn sun.

Thomson Holidays was offering just four nights in a studio in Benidorm last week at pound;269 per adult and child. Those setting off this week, though, could snap up a whole 14 nights in an apartment in Cyprus for pound;235 per adult and pound;169 per child.

Alan Hughes, from Abergele Travel Agents in north Wales, struggled to find a typical family break for the English half-term week beginning October 21.

"Availability for Spain, the most popular family destination, just didn't exist. You can really see the difference in demand and that's reflected in the prices," he said.

Last week, Thomas Cook's website had just one holiday available, a week self-catering in the Canary Islands at pound;474 per adult.

"It's supply and demand," said a company spokeswoman. "It's not prices going up during school holidays, it's that they go down the rest of the year."

Meanwhile, some families are struggling to get any time together as the half-terms varied.

"It's created havoc in parts of Wales," said Geraint Davies, secretary of SCEW and policy officer with the NASUWT Cymru union.

"For example, Carmarthenshire was on holiday last week and Swansea this.

"A large number of teachers travel across the border, so it's been difficult for families to get a holiday together."

Rhys Williams, communications officer for the National Union of Teachers Cymru, said: "My wife is head of history at Lampeter so was off last week.

We wish she was off this week and we could take advantage of the cheaper holidays abroad."

Instead, they went to England.

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