Campaign calls for staggered school holidays

20th February 2017 at 16:59
school holidays, cost, termtime, expense, parents, teachers, children, local authority
Staggering holidays across different regions would bring down the cost of travel, campaigners say

A new campaign is calling for school holidays to be staggered across the country, making holidays more affordable for parents.

The #ChangeSchoolTermDates campaign argues that, if demand for flights and hotel rooms is spread across a broader time span, then the cost will be reduced.

"We want to empower parents and schools to decide themselves what works best," the campaign’s organisers said.

'Driving a wedge'

“Centralised school-holiday scheduling, combined with fines for unauthorised absences, is unfair on parents. It’s driving a wedge between schools and families. Families and those who work in schools have to shoulder the burden of price hikes associated with peak-time travel,” they added.

The campaign has been backed by travel company TimeAway, as well as by travel agents’ association ABTA. In a poll of ABTA members, 85 per cent supported staggering school term dates by region.

Already, as one contributor to the #ChangeSchoolTermDates Twitter feed pointed out, this sometimes happens by accident: 

'Workable solution'

The campaign comes as the Supreme Court is considering whether councils should fine parents who take their children out of school during term-time. Families have complained that trips in official school holiday periods are up to four times more expensive, and councils have reported that the number of breaks in term time is increasing.

Earlier this month, a TES poll found that only 37 per cent of teachers supported the fines.

The Department for Education has claimed that each day missed from school can harm pupils’ attainment. But findings revealed by TES showed that authorised term-time holidays have little impact on primary pupils’ attainment and may even be linked to better performance in tests.

ABTA has highlighted the fact that a number of other European countries already stagger school holidays in this way. It added that this would be particularly effective during the summer holiday and February half-term.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “The industry is concerned about the issue, and is committed to a constructive dialogue, and to finding a workable solution to help alleviate some of the pressure around periods of extremely high demand that can result in higher prices.”

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