The Supreme Court ruled back in April that it’s officially illegal to take your kids out of school in term time without your headteacher’s permission in advance (unless they’re ill of course). And the only way heads are allowed to grant this permission is if there are “exceptional circumstances”.
We’ve read a spate of stories in the media lately where it’s often felt this rule is unreasonable, like the dad who was told he couldn’t take his 12-year-old out of school for his own wedding (in Greece).
And term-time fines are on the rise. In 2015, there were around 20,000 prosecutions for failing to ensure that a child went to school – a 21% rise on the previous year – resulting in 11,000 fines, 553 community sentences and 8 prison sentences.
Some celeb parents, such as Julia Bradbury, have waded into the term-time debate – encouraging parents to ignore the rules and go on holiday when they want.
How much are the fines for taking a child out of school without permission?
If you do take your child out of school without permission, you risk receiving a fine of £60 (rising to £120 if you don’t pay within 21 days). And if you don’t pay the fine after 28 days, you may be taken to court, where you could be fined up to £2,500 or receive a jail sentence of 3 months.
So what do most MFM mums do?
Interestingly, a high number of you said you would risk the fine – dependent on your little one’s age and how long you were planning to take off.
For example, when we polled our mums in our Facebook community, 74% of 245 who responded said they would go on hols in term time to save money.
“The cost of a fine is nothing compared to the price increases to go on holiday outside of term time!!” said Kate M.
Deborah V agrees – though she does think it depends on how old the kids are: “When my older two were younger I took them out for a week every year. They learnt to swim, speak Spanish and we enjoyed family time as my husband works away a lot.
“I can’t see any harm in it if attendance is high and not during secondary school years 9,10,11.”
And Bev H echoes this sentiment: “It depends on the child’s age – if in secondary school then no I wouldn’t.
“We went away last October half term and flew back the day she was due back at school so she only missed one day. I would try and work it so she only misses 1-2 days max.”
Others of you, though, would be a bit more reluctant: ‘I would love to save money and take my children out,” says Laura-Jayne C. “However I think the parents of other children and the teachers would be a bit annoyed if he was out for two weeks.”
And Irma J reckons she’s going against the grain not taking her kids out: “Haven’t missed a day in 4 years. I’m starting to regret it.
“Seems like no one cares anymore. Half of the class are missing a week before or after half term.”
What do you think?
Hmmm – lots of food for thought there. While rules are rules, that fact you can save – as one mum told us – up to £2,000 ? ? – on one holiday means it’s very tempting to skip a few days out of school, especially when they’re younger.
But then – as Irma J alludes to – is that fair on the parents who do stick to the rules?
Tells us what you think in the comments below or over on Facebook