Term Time Holiday Fees

I recently wrote a post about taking your kids out of school during term time and as Master ATWWAH starts school in September the closer we are getting to arranging our time away around school holidays.  There are a lot of restrictions on families – only being able to go at certain times of the year, higher prices, places being busier, having to negotiate time off at work with other colleagues who are parents wanting the same holidays etc.

I was really interested to read about a new study today, Travelzoo’s ‘Parent Trap 2015 Study’ which polled over 2000 parents of state school children and 500 primary and secondary school teachers.

The study found that one in five parents had already lied to their child’s school in order to avoid fines for them being taken out of school for a cheaper holiday.  Over half of the parents surveyed said they were prepared to lie in the coming months.

Slightly more worrying is that two thirds of parents are willing to ask their children to pretend to their teacher that the reason for their absence wasn’t a family holiday.  I sound very naïve but I am shocked by that.  The morality of teaching your kids to lie aside, how do you hide the fact your kid has come back with a bit of a tan or sun-kissed glow after a bout of chicken pox???  Wouldn’t the teachers notice?

writing in sand

Does writing your name in sand with a fishing net count as an English lesson?

I must admit from what I hear from friends whose children are already at school the last few days of term are a bit of a waste of time in terms of education with lots of films being watched and games being played rather than any learning.  So I suppose it is unsurprising that over a quarter of UK parents are considering taking their kids out before the final day of term so they can get a cheaper holiday, both in the UK and abroad.

Travelzoo looked into the price differences of holidays departing a week before most UK state schools break up and found a typical week in the sun for a family of four in Europe increases by an average of £800 between 15 and 22 July.  I must admit, although that is a lot of money, I thought it would be more.


It’s interesting to hear what the teachers said in the study.  Over 60% admitted pupils mostly play games in the last few days of the summer term and 50% said they watch films and cartoons.

Eight out of ten teachers said missing the last two days of school at the end of the summer term wouldn’t have a severe impact on their education.  I remember from my own school days there was a lot of doing not very much at the end of the summer term, even in secondary school.  I have to put my hand up though and say I was such a geek, especially at secondary school, I’d have been worried that I would have missed the summer homework assignment if I was to mysteriously miss the last two days of summer term.


Going back to the ‘getting the kids to lie about their absences’, three quarters of the teachers in the survey said they had experienced parents lying to them since the penalties came into force; 49% said they felt the fines were affecting their relationships with pupils’ families which can’t be a good thing.


More than half of the teachers polled said they thought head teachers (rather than local councillors) should be given back the power to grant discretionary absences.


What do you think?  Would you lie to your child’s teacher so you can get a cheaper holiday deal?  Are you a teacher who gets annoyed when children aren’t in the classroom and you suspect it isn’t a genuine absence?  Do you sell holidays and flights and keep your prices the same or at a reasonable level for ‘peak’ travel?  It’s one of those subjects that doesn’t seem to be going away.

Find out more about Travelzoo’s Parent Trap here

If you liked this post you may want to read Travel Is Education



  1. It’s a debate that’s not going away, I think – I was really interested to hear what teachers think as well. I can imagine it could be disruptive for them (although probably not those last days of summer term) but that they’re obviously keen for schools to have the final say. The idea that it’s damaging relationships with parents is far more worrying I think, especially that so many seem persuaded to lie (and get children to lie) as a result of the new system.

  2. I do find it really bizarre that the changes in rules almost encourage parents to lie to schools and feign illnesses, as honesty can cost them in terms of a fine. That has to be madness. I just think there should be some discretion, but that seems to have gone, which can’t be good.

  3. This is an interesting topic. My daughter is not yet at school so it hasn’t affected me directly, but I have been working in the travel industry for over a decade.

    I have always been amazed at how much of a price difference there is on school holidays. I accepted that like all businesses operators and agents have to manage their margins to make money and supply and demand dictate the value of an item for any particular time; but I do find the differential to be extortionate. There is an argument that a lot of costs are passed on from one supplier to the next making the final product really expensive, so whether tour operators/agents can reasonably lower prices at this time is debatable. There is also the flip side of the coin when non-peak weeks are sold at much lower costs, sometimes even at a loss, that other travellers benefits from (perhaps even ourselves pre-children).

    With regards to whether families should be fined if they take their children out of school I feel that a parent should take overall responsibility for their child’s education. Yes, if there is continued absenteeism a school should be questioning this, but surely a responsible parent can make these decisions for the overall welfare of their children. And as you’ve mentioned before travelling is an education in itself.

    Perhaps the answer lies in reverting to a system which doesn’t penalise families for expanding their children’s world, and instead encourages open conversations with educators to ensure that children don’t miss out at school and everyone is in the loop. This is how I grew up and we all seemed to turn out fine.

    Unfortunately I don’t think this will be easy to achieve and may remain idealistic for some time.

    • Thanks for your comment. I agree that it didn’t do me harm either, I am sure I had at least one foreign holiday during term time.

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