25% of parents plan term-time break
More than a quarter of parents plan to take their child out of school for a holiday this year, and the prospect of a fine is unlikely to put them off, a poll suggests.
It found that for many families, the savings made by travelling during term time outweigh any penalty incurred for a child missing school.
The survey, by LV= travel insurance, reveals that more than half of parents (55%) admit they have taken a school-age child on holiday during term time in the past. Meanwhile, the numbers choosing to take holidays during school terms is rising - in 2004 7% said that they did so; by 2011 it had risen to 21%.
The poll also found that 29% of all those questioned said they intend to go away while school is open this year. Just under half (43%) said they will take their child out of class for a week, while 30% said their holiday will be less than this.
The survey comes just a week after the Government's behaviour tsar, Charlie Taylor, called for a clampdown on term-time holidays warning that youngsters who regularly have time off can end up missing a year of schooling by the time they reach 16.
The findings show that cost is the main reason for families choosing to go away outside the school holidays, while many parents are also struggling to take leave during peak periods.
More than half (57%) of those surveyed said they take their children out of school for a holiday because it is cheaper, with a third (32%) saying they cannot afford a break during the school holidays. A quarter (26%) said that they, or their other half, cannot get time off work during school holidays.
LV said its research had found that the cost of a term-time holiday is up to 46% cheaper than one during school breaks. And the poll shows that 43% of parents believe that the cost of a fine is outweighed by the savings made by booking an off-peak holiday.
Issuing fines to parents is one of the last resorts for schools to deal with absence problems. This can include parents who took their child on holiday during term time without permission from the school. A parent given a fine has 28 days to pay £50; if they fail, then it is doubled.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said schools are expected to take a "tough line" on requests to miss lessons, as a few days off can leave youngsters struggling to catch up. "It's down to individual schools to consider requests for holiday absence during term time," she said.