Only 37 per cent of teachers support the policy of parents being fined for taking their children on term-time holidays, a TES poll reveals.
In September 2013, it was ruled that children can only be taken out of school during term time in "exceptional circumstances". Parents who act against this face fines of £60 per child, which then rises to £120 if not paid within 21 days.
Figures revealed that 50,414 fines worth £3 million were issued to parents for "unauthorised absences" in 2014-2015.
Holiday price hikes
Teachers, parents and the Department for Education have been at odds over the issue since the introduction of the fining system, with a rise in flight and accommodation costs, levels of disruption and the educational value of a holiday all being discussed.
The ongoing row over term-time holiday fines attracted yet more media attention this week as Jon Platt’s legal battle, which has been at the heart of the debate, reached the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, a QC for education chiefs told the court that taking a child to Florida for seven consecutive days during term time without a school's permission cannot be lawful. The outcome of the case, which is being followed closely by school leaders and parents across the UK, could have a huge impact on current regulations.
Teachers took to Twitter to react:
POLL: Teachers, do you think parents should be fined for taking their children out of school for term-time holidays?— TES (@tes) February 1, 2017
@tes I'm a teacher and face having to take my kids out of school to go on holiday as their holiday dates don't match with mine.— Deb F (@runningstitch) February 1, 2017
@tes absolutely not - family time is important and holidays are enriching— Jazz (@jazzbasma) February 1, 2017
@tes Just encourages people to lie to avoid a fine. Tell the truth & you earn a fine. Haven't noticed it have any impact.— Ali B (@AliB79) February 1, 2017
@tes No, do we fine teachers who don't create an effective lesson plan and waste pupil learning time?— Harry (@HarryHarryshud) February 1, 2017
Parents on Twitter have said that increases in the cost of holidays during the summer break have left them with little other choice than to take holidays in term time. Educational journalist Richard Garner reported that in one case a trip to Majorca went up from £1,876 in term time to £4,028 in the summer holidays.
However, headteacher Christina Zanelli Tyler highlighted the impact that unauthorised absences can have on school standards.
"Last year we had almost 3 per cent absence due to unauthorised term-time holidays alone – a figure which will likely be repeated this year. With illness on top of this, our attendance is barely satisfactory," she wrote.
Yesterday, ITV’s This Morning asked its viewers to take part in a vote on the issue.
The result was staggeringly in favour of allowing parents to remove their children from the classroom without the threat of being fined, with just 8 per cent of voters agreeing with the current rules.
@thismorning no they shouldn't. If this is allowed, there'll be half empty classes! Then the teachers will get the blame when kids fail— Melanie Jones (@xxmelbellexx) January 31, 2017
@thismorning Is anybody considering the teachers who have to make sure the child catches up on the part of the curriculum they've missed?— Julie Collins (@jules061066) January 31, 2017