School Life

Term-Time Holidays; Getting away and getting away with it

We returned back to school on day  7 of the new school term. As usual, I walk on tiptoes past the eldest’s class to get a glimpse of her whilst on the way to dropping the middle one at preschool. I’m not talented or special by any means, but my lip-reading skills are developed enough to recognise the words ‘been on holiday,’ coming from my smiley little girls mouth. Well that’s f****d that one then I thought.

So the moral of this, not even yet begun story; for those of you who decide to facilitate the ‘wagging it’ from school for a holiday, then they will most definitely drop you right in the s**t. The truth will always fall straight out of their small little gobs.

Always remember this.

So had we decided to lie about our holiday and blame her absence on a sickness bug then she would have properly buggered it up for us (well that and her lovely olive colour). As it turns out we didn’t lie, well in the end we didn’t anyway.

Lets rewind to a few weeks previous.

We had a look at some last-minute escapes during the school holiday but with the prices during this time requiring us to re-mortage the house then we decided to stop at home.  But by the time we’d reached Boxing Day, the cold and the post-Christmas lows were getting to us.  After self-diagnosing us as family with SAD, we unanimously agreed ‘F*** it, let’s go away as its imperative for our well-being’. We booked a holiday being unsure how we would explain the six days of what would be a ‘unauthorised absence’.

We’d booked it, packed it and knobbed off within a couple of days. Which was an amazing accomplishment for us. There was a time when simply getting out the house with all three kids was a right  mission (there was a time when I got in the car and realised I’d left a new-born George in his car seat by the door – oops!). Anyways, we remembered George and we had a great time. After realising ringing in sick for all of them was a complete ball ache and the lie would never stick, we came clean and left a message advising them of when they would return. It was too late to apply for the time off, so we were happy to accept the slap on the wrist and a fine.

Our holiday would’ve been 57% more expensive during the holidays. Its bloody frustrating when you want to be able to take your kids away but you’re being stung by the fluid pricing of travel companies. It’s the basic rules of supply and demand, I get that, but with the introduction of fines and prosecutions; it’s surely only  fuelling demand, with further potential to force prices higher.  We’re trapped in a no win situation. Anyways, the debate has been going on for a while, this is nothing new.  With five bums to pay for on an airplane, financially, the decision is quite simple;

Term Time holiday - Getting away and getting away with it

 

Therefore its term time holiday or no holiday at all. For many of us with minimal disposable income, I imagine this will be the case also. With unauthorised absences for holidays at its highest, it seems that a lot of us are coming to the same conclusion.  Thanks to the chap from the Isle Of Wight who successfully appealed against his fine for taking his family on holiday during term-time, based on his daughter’s ‘regular’ attendance, it has paved the way for many of us to avoid a fine – for the time being! We won’t know what ‘regular’ attendance means or whether school fines will be abolished for a while yet as his case was adjourned.

Will they abolish them; I doubt it, the cynic in me doesn’t expect it as there’s been a lot of fines issued and with the absences being at a five-year high that’s a lot of cash for the local authority. Will the Travel Companies cap their prices – ha, again being a cynic, it’s all about the money, I doubt they’ll want to see profits suffer. One school in Kent has adjusted the school year by adding extra days onto the October and May half term so parents can take advantage of the cheaper fares. Great idea, but I imagine if schools follow suit then its simply a case of Travel Companies adjusting their peak rate pricing brackets. A temporary win, but its something at least.

So for me, I’m waiting to see what ‘regular’ attendance means and will have no issues taking them out of school for a couple of days for a holiday within the boundaries of what ‘regular’ will mean. For us, the ability to travel is imperative. The family time is crucial. There’s so much to be gained for the kids of parents who want to show them different things around the world. There’s so much more to be learned outside of the classroom.

So if the rules need to be bent then the rules can get bent.

I’m a responsible mum and 100% committed to their education, there’s  no way that I’d hinder that. The decision to go away will never be taken lightly and their will always be a lot to take into consideration; will they miss out on a special day, are they behind, are they at a crucial stage in their education.

For us ,term time holidays will be our only option. If it’s all about the cost to the child’s education, then don’t just fine us, appreciate what we’re trying to do and give us the tools to help them stay on track.

By the way, we never received a fine. Yay!

Categories: School Life

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