The announcement by Derbyshire County Council (21 September) that they are suspending term-time holiday fines has led to an unjust law.
That is the view of FamilyBreakFinder, a UK family travel website specialising in package holiday deals and short breaks.
Our research shows that two families living just a few miles apart – but in different counties – now face huge economic inequality when it comes to holidays, as Derbyshire County Council sanctions term-time getaways.
Looking at holiday deals for Christmas 2016, Easter 2017 and Summer 2017, FamilyBreakFinder has found:
Any parents planning a surprise Christmas getaway to Lapland for the kids would be able to afford a LOT of extra presents if they go before term finishes. Monarch is offering flights and four nights accommodation for a family of two adults, two children, at a cost of £3,094.92 if you fly on 2 December 2016. Fly on 20 December and you’ll pay £4,287.42 – and that’s just for three nights!
Christmas Holiday 2016 Saving = £1,192.50 – 28% Less
That dream family trip to Florida is where substantial savings could be made. A family of two adults, two children, departing on 9 March 2017 with Virgin from Gatwick, staying at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort for 14 nights, would expect to pay £3,254 for flights, accommodation and car hire. The same holiday departing on 1 April 2017 – during the school Easter holidays – would cost MORE THAN DOUBLE at £6841.
Easter Holiday 2017 Saving = £3,587.00 – 52% Less
A family of two adults and three children taking a holiday in Majorca could save £365.84 by choosing a term-time summer break. OnTheBeach is advertising a seven night self-catering stay at at Arcos Playa Apartments for £824.78. Flights depart from Gatwick on 31 August 2017, which clashes with the first few days of the new school year for most parents. However, the exact same holiday costs £1,190.62 if taken from 1 August 2017.
Summer Holiday 2017 Saving = £365.84 – 31% Less
FamilyBreakFinder member Catherine Stocks, who lives within Derbyshire County Council’s boundaries near Mansfield, said: “I’m glad my child goes to school in the county with the most sense. These things should be done on an individual case basis.
“The parents should request the time and school should judge on things like academic progress, whether the child is at school at least 95% of the time for the rest of the year, whether they are late, whether they do homework tasks and whether they are always properly equipped.
“If any of the elements are missing they should decline the time and fine if the parents ignore. If all the elements are present they should allow the time off. Why should the majority be punished because of the minority?”
Another FamilyBreakFinder member, Rachel Hopkins Davis of Hereford, said: “It should be across the board, especially as different counties have different holidays anyway. My family is spread across the country so we can’t go on holiday during half terms as they are different weeks.”
Dominic Sawyer, founder of FamilyBreakFinder, said: “This move by Derbyshire County Council is going to bring confusion and anger among families and huge pressure on county councils across the country. The situation has become a shambles as neither knows where they stand. Unless the Minister of State for Schools is able to convince them not to, other councils will begin to follow suit and there will be chaos. Rather than funding this issue at the Supreme Court, the Department of Education needs to listen again to what families are saying and reconsider what is an inflexible and unpopular policy.”