'Fines should be higher' - readers have their say on term-time holidays from school

A generic image of school children
Headteachers decide whether to approve leave for a pupil -Credit:PA Wire/PA Images

A South Shields dad has hit out after a school refused to give one of his children time out for a holiday, while another school accepted for a second child - leading to ChronicleLive readers debating the practice in our comments section. Headteachers are the ones who decide whether to approve leave for a pupil, and fines can be issued for unauthorised absences.

Paul Hughes, a dad of two who works in the renewable energy sector for months at a time, said: "Why should I be threatened with a fine for wanting to spend time with my kid? I can totally understand if I was taking them out of school for months or weeks at a time, but that's not the case here."

"There should be some leeway, especially for people who work away and don't get to see their kids as much."

Commenter Ourlad agrees with Paul, and reckons that there are far worse offenders to focus on: “He has valid reasons for the situation. I know of a couple who keep their children off school for weeks on end. The Education authorities want to get a grip on priorities and give some grace to genuine people similar to Paul's position.”

Shelagh1 is also on his side: “Not everybody lives in a perfect world, as he said he has to take time off when he can. There are many jobs that dictate when employees can be off.”

Teachers insist that time out of the curriculum affects future outcomes, but The71 says: “Home school them for a week on holiday take them to museums and such, you know what I’m saying, it’s still educational and learning. Can’t do nowt about that!”

User C is one of hundreds of thousands every year who take unauthorised leave: "I take my child on holiday when I want. I can't afford the ones in the holidays. I'm not paying no fines... a week away the child's not missing much anyway.”

But plenty of readers are against it. NorthBris says: “Honestly I think the fines should be higher for parents who take their kids out. Rules are rules. You can guess which kids get taken out of school by their parents for holidays and it’s not the ones who are doing well.”

Paul Hughes thinks that it's wrong that headteachers get to decide which pupils are allowed time off, but commenter Wanny70 disagrees: “Every school has the authority to decide whether to grant permission to take a child on holiday during term time or not. If you can afford the holiday, pay the fine and don't whinge about it.”

Robin85 says it's right that schools be strict on leave: “Schools have 100's of kids and educational standards to maintain. If the attendance of the majority of kids cannot be relied upon, how are the teachers going to go through all the stuff they need to learn?"

"Lessons are structured and need to be given in a certain order to make sure the kids can pass their exams. If exam grades get worse then it's the schools and teachers in the firing line, with parents at the front of the line waiting to complain. Also, let's not forget that schools have between 13 and 15 weeks of holiday a year. If you cant plan to at least have two of them off to coincide with those ~3.5-4 months off then you need to plan better.”

For Chopper13, a fine is fair: “Just pay the fine. £60 is a lot less than the extra few hundred if not thousands his holiday would be during school holidays.” Stu47 says the same: “You know the rules, you either accept the fine and affect your kids education or do the right thing and change the date."

Have you been tempted by a cheaper family holiday during term time? Comment below, and join in on the conversation.