Parents urged not to take children out of school for holidays

Balfour School
Balfour School

Parents across Brighton and Hove have received letters urging them to take their holidays outside term-time.

The letters, headed Miss School Miss Out, said that children who missed out on school during term-time were less likely to get higher grades in their GCSEs.

They were sent by Brighton and Hove City Council’s assistant director of education and skills Jo Lyons.

She said: “Not attending regularly limits opportunities for your child to make the most of being at school.

“Being at school is about being with friends, experiencing new activities and learning new skills as well as impacting on a young person’s future prospects.

“Future employers and training providers look to see what grades a young person has achieved.

“We know that in this city, pupils attending for more than 95 per cent of the year achieve GCSE results that are one grade higher than those that don’t.”

Since 2013 more than 6,000 fines have been issued with the annual number quadrupling, although it dropped slightly last year.

The school issuing the highest number of fines was Balfour Primary School with a total of 493 over the five years.

Davigdor Infant School, Hangleton Junior School and St Nicolas’ CE Primary School each issued fewer than five fines in the past five years.

During this time Davigdor merged with Somerhill Junior School to become Brunswick Primary and Hangleton Junior School merged with Hangleton Infants to become an all-through primary school too.

In 2017-18 all state schools in Brighton and Hove had a two-week half-term break in October as part of a two-year experiment to try to beat soaring holiday prices when term ends.

But in the current school year some schools opted out. They were the local Catholic schools and the King’s School, a Church of England secondary school which is due to move from Portslade to Hangleton next year.

A survey completed by almost 4,500 people found that 57 per cent favoured returning to a one-week half-term break.

However, parents still appear to be willing to take their children out of school for holidays during term-time to save money.

One mum, Kelly Kelly, said: “We are a family of six. We saved £6,000 going away for two weeks three weeks before the start of the summer holidays.

“I would rather pay the fine. We ended up having the best time that we absolutely couldn’t afford during the holidays.

“The fine totally penalises large families and those with great attendance records.

“We hadn’t had a family holiday in four years. The two weeks half term hasn’t worked for us this time due to having four kids at three different schools and not all opting in. ”

Mother of two Sophie Tickner said: “My family took advantage of the extra week last year and went abroad.

“We wouldn’t have been able to go abroad otherwise.

“This year we went away in July and paid the fine we got for my eldest son.

“It’s still cheaper to pay the fine than go abroad in the kids’ holidays.”

Nicole Anderson said: “I don’t particularly like the idea of taking my kids out of school during term-time to go on holiday as the whole point of going on holiday is to have something for us to do when there’s no school.

“However, I can totally understand parents opting to pay the fine. Prices during school holidays aren’t just double, they are times four.”

Emily Dauris said that she could understand why people risked the fine but would not take her own children out of school.

She said: “People don’t realise how much extra work it is for teachers.

“If a child has a week or two off school, they don’t let them fall behind. They have to create a separate plan to help them catch up on what they missed.

“It would be an idea I think if this fine was paid direct to the teachers.”