Should you take your child out of school for a holiday?

Should you take your child out of school for a holiday?

IMG_6030Should you take your child out of school for a holiday? Well, I have always been a firm believer of not copping out when it comes to responsibility and setting a good example. When it comes to Grace and schooling, I am proud of her and the record she has attained with her attendance. Ross and I have always said to her ‘don’t get ill, get awesome!’.  At the end of the last school year she received a headmasters award for 100% attendance and, this year, she was gutted when she had two days off with a sick bug.

When we were offered a trip to Forest Holidays back at the beginning of last year, we were told that it had to be taken in term time. Uncertain of how to play it, we decided to go over a bank holiday in May and see if she could get the Friday off of school. We could have lied to them and said she was off sick, but what sort of example does that set to Grace? Instead, we applied through a holiday request form via the proper channels. However, due to the change in rules, our application was rejected and we found out that the school had decided to comply with the Department of Education and the fines imposed on parents who took their children out for holidays during term time.

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It wasn’t the first time we had applied. Back in January 2012, when Grace was in her former school and first school year, we decided that we needed a break after a long few months of me directing a pantomime. We applied for the last week of January – a much cheaper week to go to Center Parcs! We decided that Grace was young enough for it not to affect her too much and that she would learn plenty from the experience. The school explained the drawbacks of taking her out and, because Ross and I agreed that these were minimal, the school approved our holiday.

So, how did we solve the dilemma of last year? We agreed that the school should not be told that Grace was ‘sick’. We wanted to show her that she should not duck out of responsibility and commitment. Instead, we left to go on our break straight after school on that Friday. It still meant that she had the rest of that day, the Saturday, Sunday and Monday – as it was a bank holiday.

Yes, you can argue that travelling is a form of education. In fact, one of the things that we explained to the school was that Grace would be meeting with the ranger at Forest Holidays and learning lots of information about animals, survival techniques and the forest in general (she learned so much that we wrote about it on kidGLloves – both bush skills and pond dipping) but I believe that this should not be at the expense of her mainstream education. Something that every child is obliged to attend.

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BookFHR recently launched a campaign called ‘Travel is Education’. They think that pitting a week in a classroom against an opportunity to explore a new place and culture, spend quality time with family and break daily routine is a very tough comparison. Subjects you learn in the classroom can seem pretty abstract without context and travel is a fantastic way to bring studies to life and spark passion in a child.

I know that taking a holiday is a huge expense but we would rather choose to stay at home and go on day trips during the holidays, rather than have Grace miss her schooling. I think that both the classroom and travelling offer a child the chance to learn – but one should not be at the expense of another.

This post is written in collaboration with BookFHR

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2015-2016 Victoria Welton

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30 Comments

  1. April 5, 2015 / 8:34 pm

    I absolutely agree that we should be setting an example to our children by not making up ‘sickness’ excuses in order to take them out of school. I also agree that travel and experiences different cultures can be an education in itself. But I’m not sitting on the fence with this one! Having seen just how much our little bear has thrived in Reception, how much learning has absorbed – and applied – in one half term alone, hubby and I don’t believe that taking her out of school for a holiday is an option at all. The phonics, the sums, the routine (boring as it can be sometimes – but school holidays are for a break in routine…), the friendships that are formed (and broken…) have all been mind-blowing. In short, our little bear has learnt an unbelievable amount in her schooling in the past ‘short’ 7 months that we would never consider taking her out of that environment to save pennies. You can’t put a price on state education, after all…
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  2. April 5, 2015 / 8:30 pm

    This is such an interesting topic Vic and is clearly already sparking much discussion. It’s great you found a solution around it and showed Grace how important it is to be honest. We haven’t had to cross this bridge yet…our daughter still isn’t school age but, as you know, we do a lot of travelling (mostly out of peak season) and are very conscious of the expense at peak times. I know this will prompt much discussion with my husband and I. He was taken out of school. I wasn’t, in fact I often got 100% attendance but ultimately it didn’t affect either of our education. In fact, I think mine would have been enhanced -especially if we’d gone to France and got to practice the language (my French speaking was terrible). I can’t see the odd day harming a child’s education, especially at primary school age. I am a firm belivever that travel enhances children so much and if they can catch up or get some homework then why not… It will be interesting to see how this transpires when she actually does go to school and we have the threat of a fine and disapproval from the school. #pocolo

  3. April 5, 2015 / 2:01 pm

    I do agree, we’re making the most of holidays and trips during term whilst Toby’s little because I really value education. That said, if it was say at the end of term when a lot of classes are cancelled for games days, films and trips out then I’d weigh up the value of that vs the value of the trip we wanted to do. I don’t think the odd day here and there for good reason would have lasting effects xx #PoCoLo

  4. April 4, 2015 / 2:09 am

    We’ve always told our kids that 80% of success is just showing up. And honestly, I’ve always believed that. To that end, we always strove to have perfect attendance in school, although with 8 kids in the house we only achieved that goal a couple of times through elementary and secondary years. At the beginning of our run, we would NEVER schedule an appointment during school hours on a school day if there was ANY WAY we could avoid it.

    But a few years back, despite three of our kids in an International Baccalaureate Programme in high school, we decided as a family to take three days off from school to gain a 10 day skiing holiday. Fortunately, our school system doesn’t impose fines (I’d never even heard of that before your post) or it would have almost doubled the cost of our trip! We did write letters to each school and every teacher explaining what we were doing and why. You can imagine trying to coordinate 10 schedules!

    We often talk about that vacation and have held it up as the gold standard of what we’d like to be able to do in the future. Of course, we’ll try to avoid missing school…but sometimes the experiences are vastly more valuable than sitting in a classroom.

    Glad I found your post and blog from the #PoCoLo.

    Make it a great day!
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  5. Maddy@writingbubble
    April 3, 2015 / 10:30 pm

    I’m totally with you on being honest with the school about wanting to go away rather than just claiming grace is ill. Phoning in sick would be easier but it’s so important to set the right example about telling the truth isn’t it? That said, I think your trip sounded very educational and the chances are, most teachers would agree but the rules they have to follow are now much more strict than they used to be! We took our boys out of school for half a day to see the Tour de France in my home town. The school rejected our application but in the same breath said ” but feel free to pick them up at lunch time anyway and have a fab time!” In other words they followed government guidelines but personally they felt it would be a more valuable experience for the kids than a couple more hours in the classroom… Which it was! Interesting post!
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  6. April 3, 2015 / 8:06 pm

    This is such an interesting topic. As a teacher I can see why it is important for children to stay in school. However, for me each case needs to be thought about. If the child is always in school and the holiday is going to be of benefit to them then I really do not see why it is a problem. One missed week in a whole year will not make a difference. However, when some children are off school every other day, the parents do not bother helping with homework etc.. then those children need to stay in school at all opportunities- especially if the holiday will be their parents ignoring them while they sun themselves. Each case is different. xxx
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  7. Izzie Anderton
    April 3, 2015 / 7:18 pm

    It’s not an easy decision to make with the price hikes in travel costs during the school holidays, but well done to you for sticking to the rules and keeping Grace in school.
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  8. April 3, 2015 / 6:54 pm

    I am impressed that your school requires you to make an application to take the children out during school days. I think that speaks to the importance of education. We have taken our kids out, but if we had to apply I don’t know that we would have done it. It really holds you accountable and makes you think.
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  9. April 3, 2015 / 6:28 pm

    Obe of the difference in my country of the schooling here is the half term. We dont have that in my country. So taking a vacation is not really applicable.

    In here when my son started school I am so glad of those weeks that we can rest. I wish that the guiding body will take in consideration of the learning that a kid can have if he/she will embark on a trip somewhere.

    You are very good in leading by example. In telling the truth to the school.
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  10. Betty and the Bumps
    April 3, 2015 / 3:39 pm

    We were taken out of school for holidays when we were younger but this was the late 80s/early 90s and it was “allowed”!! I probably wouldn’t do so with Gwenn, but then again she’s not even two so who knows how I’ll feel in a few years time. x

    #pocolo
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  11. April 3, 2015 / 2:31 pm

    This is an interesting one. I have taken my kids out of school, to go skiing. We took them out partly as it was cheaper, and partly because I know my children better than anyone else, particularly any government official who has never met my child. Both children over achieve at school, and a week out of school to learn a new sport and be in the environs of the mountains was always going to benefit them.

    We got unauthorised from the school.

    However, both teachers gave us work to do while we were away – we read texts they had to cover and did maths they needed to do. The kids also spoke a little french to order hot chocolates and chips (!) and they both learnt to ski.

    Their father has a massively stressful job and was going to be in the USA for Easter, so we spent a lot of precious time together.

    I think it should be case by case and up to the headteacher to adjudicate. People will just lie and of what benefit is that?!
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  12. Bloggermummylauren
    April 3, 2015 / 12:09 pm

    I’m not really sure how I feel about this, I guess I’m kind of on the fence.
    I think it would be difficult for us to go on a family holiday during the summer holidays because everywhere is so busy and my son can’t really cope with busy because of his ASD, the only time I feel we could have an enjoyable family holiday would be during term time when places are quieter. Saying that, I would be worried about taking the kids out of school because I don’t want them missing vital school time, so I really don’t know.
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  13. April 3, 2015 / 11:45 am

    As somebody who missed two entire years of Primary school due to being in hospital, I am a firm believer that children actually learn MORE away from the school and that a few weeks off don’t make a blind bit of difference. Real life and learning life lessons is so very important too. I back a campaign where it should be the parents decision and the campaign is trying to get the two weeks a year authorised holiday back. Obviously children need to go to school and I’m not advocating taking loads of time off, but the odd week or two really doesn’t make a difference unless it’s an exam week. You are also showing Grace reason, honesty (not lying about it) and sacrifice (paying the fines). I think you did the right thing entirely and wouldn’t question it.
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  14. April 3, 2015 / 9:26 am

    I totally agree that children’s education is very important and I would never take the boys out of school mid-term time. Saying that I have noticed, over the past 5 years or so, the last week of the summer term (July) is wasted time. My boys come home saying they’ve watched a film or spent the day colouring in. We are going on holiday this summer and the boys will be missing the last 3 days of school. We decided that if the school fine us we will argue about it. I don’t think watching films and colouring in can be considered ‘education’ and although I know the school say ‘they deserve a break’ at the end of term it always annoys me. After all aren’t they about to have a six week break!

    As far as I’m concerned when the boys are at school they should be learning, all of the time. If they’re not learning I don’t think the school can consider it education. The boys watch films and colour in at home and I don’t see the difference.

    Great post Victoria, I’m sure it will spark lots of discussion. xx
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  15. April 3, 2015 / 8:50 am

    I’m glad you found a solution that worked hon, and taught Grace an important lesson along the way xx
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  16. April 3, 2015 / 8:35 am

    I think in certain circumstances schools should be flexible. Luckily the local school was flexible when I took my kids to Australia the last time. Given that they hadn’t spent a Christmas with my parents for many years I thought a fine was rather inappropriate and insensitive and I don’t think they missed out on that much. Plus in that extra few days they got to spend time with friends and family.
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  17. April 3, 2015 / 8:16 am

    Thank goodness there are no fines in Wales yet! Mummy simply could not afford to take us away if we went in the school holidays. We think holiday companies should adjust their prices. We know somewhere that increased by £900 for Easter!!! In the UK! Great post, and we too have one like this in our drafts, but, I guess voicing the ‘other’ view. Thank you for sharing x x
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  18. April 3, 2015 / 8:07 am

    This a very interesting post and one I have been toying with writing about for a while too …. because of my interest coming from the “other side” but also as being a parent. We run a children friendly holiday cottage and although it is equally good for all adult groups our main selling point is families with children. With children not allowed to come on holiday in term time it has, in effect, reduced down our time when we can sell holidays. HOWEVER I am also a Mum and I do not believe that taking a holiday out of school time should be a right for everyone. As others before me have said there are times and circumstances when it should be allowed but not a god given right for all not a god given ban for all. Ans sometimes children will learn more from a weeks holiday than a week in school.

    Like Emma, above, we are unable to take family holidays in peak times as we are here running the gite and in France you absolutely do not take children out of school. No fines, you just don’t do it. We did it once before we realised what a complete faux pas it was. Both boys were still below the legal age that they actually needed to be in school, which is 6 in France, so we took them out for a week …. and got so much flack afterwards, not from school who had reluctantly permitted us to go, but from other parents. We learnt our lesson and no longer take term time holidays.

    PS – as holiday provider we have learnt to diversify, promoting the gite worldwide to try and attract guests from other countries with different holidays and to groups without children. Some-one above also mentioned that holidays are more expensive in holiday times. If you look at our prices it might seem that way. In fact the price in peak time is our normal price and all other prices are REDUCED as we know these weeks are harder to sell so we have to offer them for less. It costs the same to run the cottage at any week of the year and in fact costs us more in the winter with heating costs but we would not be able to sell holidays at the normal summer rate. If we were forced to sell all holidays at the same rate it would severely impact on our already small profit margin to the point of probably putting us out of business. That said I agree that many big companies excessively hike their prices and I feel there should be a cap on this … but not a one price for all weeks as they is not economically viable.

    Sorry, bit of a post hijack there …. I need to get my own post written.
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  19. April 3, 2015 / 8:01 am

    As a parent I wish there was more flexibility about school holiday dates. I tried to book a holiday yesterday for the May Bank holiday week but when I saw the difference in price between term and non-term holidays I was horrified.

    However I now work in a school and can appreciate why children shouldn’t be taken out. Our local secondary school recently sent home a letter detailing attendance ratios and actual exam results for their children last year. Higher attendance really does have an impact. So I think the issue is very much with holiday companies. I know it’s a market economy, laws of supply and demand etc, but they should play fair. As an example, Center Parcs is one that I refuse to book with because of their huge price increases in school holidays!

  20. April 3, 2015 / 7:56 am

    I think a day or two off, even for a holiday shouldn’t be rejected. Traveling and exploring creates a wealth of experiences and memories in children. Hope you had a fun trip!

  21. April 3, 2015 / 7:36 am

    My children are older (youngest is 14) and schools used to be more accepting of holidays I think. When they were small we used to take them out of school for a couple of weeks at a time. We had a fantastic 3 weeks inter-railing through Europe, for example, when they were 12 and 6, and I know that the experiences they had were hugely mind expanding. On the other hand, I understand the pressure that schools are under to meet attendance targets, and that individual teachers are under to ensure children are reaching standards, and however much I argue that learning to negotiate train and boat travel in the med is an invaluable skill, it won’t reflect in the data that is collected. We still take out son out for a couple of days a year for a particular festival we attend. The attitude of the last school he was in was always “we can’t authorise this, but have a fantastic time”.
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  22. April 3, 2015 / 7:29 am

    Going against the grain of the comments above, I agree with you Vic but it is a thorny issue. I like that you fronted it up to it and didn’t lie and were conscious of setting an example. I don’t think children should be taken out of school for holidays but equally I don’t like that parents are penalised for doing this as if we don’t know what is best for our own child.

    As someone said above I don’t think you can really have a blanket approach with this and there are many reasons why a holiday might be required.

    The thing that most annoys me – and again, instead of us mums falling out over this issue, like so many others – I lay the blame at the holiday companies and resorts who charge a premium for people to go on holiday in the school holidays. It’s hideously unfair on people who work hard and deserve a holiday. I think something should be done about that rather than penalising parents.

    Good article, well done for tackling such a thorny issue and being brave about it. And also not judging other people.
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  23. April 3, 2015 / 7:19 am

    I sit on the fence with this one! I agree that education is important and that taking time out of school isn’t something which should be taken lightly *but* I think that if it’s that family’s only way of being able to go on holiday (rather than a family who are, say, taking their children on holiday 2 or 3 times a year) then perhaps it should be considered. I don’t think a blanket rule fits all, when does it ever?!

    We often went away during term time when I was growing up and got to visit some amazing places which I know we wouldn’t have otherwise, although my parents always ensured that school sent us the work we would be missing!
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  24. April 3, 2015 / 7:15 am

    Ohh you are very good.
    We haven’t got to that stage yet but have already said if had a big family holiday planned (Florida) we would take her out and pay the fine. It’s just so much cheaper and quieter out of school hols.
    Saying that smaller breaks we wouldn’t as she does need to be in school so not to miss out on her education.
    I do think though when they are young and if bright they will catch up.
    Maybe I’m a bit laid back? xxx #pocolo
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  25. April 2, 2015 / 2:43 pm

    Having taken my boys out of school for 3 years and found they’d not missed anything much at school, I’ve been a believer that the occasional bit of time off school for holidays does more good than harm for my kids. There are certain busy places that we can’t take j to in school holidays so if we want to do those things we have to go in term time. In our experience a lot of schools care more about their stats and attendance figures rather than basing their decision on what’s best for the child. When he was off school for several months due to illness I begged the school and local education authority to send him work to do (as his education was still their responsibility at that point) but they refused. That’s why I think the rules are for the benefit of schools more than children. Certainly an emotive topic for many. This year and for secondary school we are making the decision to minimise taking kids out but if we ever needed to, I would consider doing it again.

  26. April 2, 2015 / 2:14 pm

    We took our girls out of school for the last week of the summer term so my husband could ride a stage of the Tour de France and we could have a lovely hot sunny week kicking off what would be a 7 week summer break. I was so looking forward to a week of sunshine. Only it was a rubbish week – the tent got flooded, we got locked in the camp site so Big Welsh was unable to cycle, I managed to wipe my phone clean of everything and we ended up decamping to our friends in Bordeaux to avoid foot rot and to allow our tent to dry out before we used it again. We never used the tent again, nor have we dared take the children out of school just incase!!
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  27. April 2, 2015 / 2:12 pm

    I agree with you on the whole. School terms are there for a reason and kids shouldn’t be taken out left right and centre for 2 weeks of sitting in a holiday resort.

    But I think there should be some flexibility for the schools if a proposal is put forward that is fair and some education is taking part while away (to me, the ranger thing is great given the increase in appreciation for forest schools, plus it would only have been the one day).

    I think if children have a great attendance record, don’t have weeks off sick, apply themselves to their work and are well behaved, then for good reason on occasion there should be some allowance. Maybe it would set a better example to other children/parents whose children don’t behave or don’t work to the best of their ability. I think a week is the maximum that should be taken, and not every year, and the children can always be set a task for their return to school – so ensuring the holiday can become educational. My mum always set us a scrapbook task each holiday…I guess when it comes hard is when children are at different schools with different levels of approval and reasoning.

    I know we’ll never be able to have a family holiday during school holidays (well, maybe May or Oct half term at a push depending on the weather at the time) because farmers harvest – essentially from May when it’s sileaging, through to Sep/October depending on the weather. And with animals during winter they’re busy there – calving, lambing, feeding etc. In the past, farming children have been able to go away in term time, now they can’t unless you’ve a particularly understanding rural school. This summer, we’re going away in the first week of the holidays camping with about 6-8 other mums and their children, most of whom are farming families. That’s the summer ‘family’ holiday.

    Our local schools let kids have days off for important events – one offs – so our eldest nephew qualified for the Horse of the Year show which was a week off – team work, challenge, competition, learning, and sport. The school could hardly turn it down. Others in the family have had a day off for a specific hunt or shoot happening on the farm that they’re involved in – again building values like outdoors, networking, team working, training animals etc. I think (if the children are doing well at school) this kind of thing should be thought of as a positive and beneficial to the all round education. As a one off and not presumed that it’s an automatic right.
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