BBC News

Drop term-time holiday ban, urges petition

By Judith Burns
BBC News education reporter

image captionA petition by parents is demanding the government reverse its term-time holiday ban on schoolchildren

A petition demanding the government reverse a ban on schoolchildren in England taking holidays during term-time will be delivered later.

The 126,000-signature document will be given to the Department for Education.

Campaigners say many families cannot afford the higher cost of a break during the school holidays.

The DfE said it was giving schools more freedom to set term dates - potentially meaning parents could book cheaper holidays.


Until last month, heads could grant up to 10 days' leave a year for family holidays in "special circumstances".

Since 1 September, head teachers have no longer been able to grant any absence outside school holidays except under "exceptional circumstances".

The reference to the 10-day limit has been removed from the regulations.

A petition against the ban, started by a parent and hosted on the 38-Degrees Campaigns By You website, had attracted 126,275 signatures by Tuesday evening.

The petition says the ban will "adversely affect" families who cannot afford the higher prices charged to holidaymakers during the school holidays.

"Also not all businesses can allow their staff to be off all at the same time", says the petition.

"All children who have a good attendance record should be allowed the opportunity to enjoy quality time with their parents on an annual holiday of up to 10 days once per year."

Craig Langman, the parent who started the petition, told BBC News his six-year-old son still recalls a holiday the family took to Rome during term-time two years ago and has done school projects based on the trip.

"It was probably more educational than being in school to be honest.

'Blanket ban'

"He still remembers the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum."

Mr Langman says the cost of breaks during the school holidays can be three times as much as during term-time.

"I am not asking kids to have a guaranteed extra two weeks on top of their existing 10 weeks' holiday each year - but this blanket ban on term-time holidays with the threat of a fine is almost killing families."

He argues that the decision as to whether to grant a request for extra days off school should remain with head teachers.

"I feel that most MPs in the government had holidays with their parents when they were younger so why do they think they have the power to stop our children's generation from enjoying the same lifestyle," says Mr Langman.

"Soon only rich kids would be able to go on holiday and that's unfair on everyone else."

A DfE spokesperson said: "If children aren't in school they lose out on valuable learning time and have to waste more time catching up. That's why children shouldn't be taken out of school during term time unless absolutely necessary.

"We are giving all schools the freedom to set their own term dates, for example David Young Community Academy in Leeds operates a seven-term year starting in June. This means that parents and teachers can benefit from cheaper holidays at the end of September.

"We want schools to consider changes to term dates that will work for their pupils and their families."

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