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More parents pull their kids out of school to avoid paying outrageous rates

An review of official school absence statistics reveals that tens of thousands more kids have been skipping classes as a result of parents choosing the less expensive term time summer breaks as the cost of living crisis strikes.

The most recent Department for Education (DfE) data on absences due to unauthorized vacations shows that during the summer term of 2022, there were missed educational opportunities equal to close to three million school days.

In comparison to the same period in 2019, which was the final summer before the pandemic temporarily closed schools and prevented overseas travel, that amounts to a 12.5 percent increase.

With food and mortgage rates skyrocketing this term, school administrators believe a similar scenario has been playing out. I got travel agency data that further supports the trend of cost-effective term time vacations.

In response to “rip-off” costs for summer vacation vacations, head teachers are urging the government to step in and state that kids shouldn’t be skipping class.

El Jedras, a 41-year-old mother of three from Natwich, Cheshire, claimed that if her family traveled to the UK during the school holidays, the cost of their trip would triple from £300 to £900.

She and her husband Kris Jedras benefit from quieter travel times because they have three children with special education needs who are ages 3, 4, and 8.

If the punishment is not paid within 21 days, it will increase to £120 and parents will be penalized £60 for each absence from school. Local municipalities have different policies; some impose fines per child while others impose fines on both parents and children.

Mr. and Mrs. Jedras could face a combined fine of £360 once all of their children enter primary school if they take their vacations during the school year since Cheshire East council fines both parents.

However, they believe “it may still be worth it” because of increases in airfare during the summer and winter school breaks.

Mrs. Jedras told me, “Right now, only one child is in primary school so I would definitely take the fine,” adding that the cost-of-living situation has been “very difficult” for her family.

According to DfE data for state schools in England, more than half a million additional school days—483,741—were missed as unapproved term-time vacation last summer compared to summer 2019.

That might result in up to 90,000 additional kids missing school for the summer. The formula used to arrive at that number used travel agency Thomas Cook’s average booking for families and a one-week vacation with five school days missed.

Leaders of the teaching profession now express concern over a repeat of the past summer.

“Given the financial strain many families are experiencing and the massive increase in prices we see during the school holidays, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this continuing to be an issue this summer,” said James Bowen, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

Thomas Cook has observed that parents are more eager to start their vacations earlier in July, before the majority of schools let out for the summer, as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.

The travel company’s review of search data for the past three months compared to last year revealed a decrease in families with school-age children looking for August vacation and an increase in families looking for July vacation.

According to a spokesman, families were “looking around for the best deals and doing what they can to get as much vacation for their money” during the summer of 20103.

Both the timing and the destinations were evolving. Families still prefer to travel in August, but there has been a minor uptick in customers booking vacations in July, maybe to take advantage of cheaper rates earlier in the month, the spokesman said.

“We ought to be allowed to take our kids on vacation.”
Ruby, age 8, Phoenix, age 4, and Sienna, age 3, are the children of Kris and El Jedras.

Before the pandemic, Kris and El Jedras took their now-8-year-old daughter Ruby out of school for the school year two years ago, and they still want to do so.

Cost is the biggest factor, Ms. Jedras said. “Looking at a holiday that normally costs us about £300 would be up to £900 if we booked during the school holidays, and we really can’t afford to do that.”

Phoenix, 4 years old, and Sienna, 3, are the couple’s other two children, and because all three of them have specific educational needs, leaving when it is busier and noisier is not an appealing choice.

Even after all three of their children have entered school, they indicated they would gladly pay the £60 fine for each parent because they would still save money overall. However, they have not yet received a fine.

Being two adults and three children is generally expensive, according to Ms. Jedras. “My kids have a lot of special needs, therefore we do have a lot of recurring expenses…

“Providing the kids with a change of scenery is one of the reasons we travel on vacation. They require the experience of traveling, being in a foreign location, and having novel experiences.

Because term times are more calm, she has noticed a growing trend of parents talking about the quality and pricing of other holidays.

Children need to have fresh experiences, but Mr. Jedras contends that the current fine system is “really flawed” because parents must deal with travel brokers “hiking up prices” during school breaks.

She declared: “We have a right to be able to take our children on vacation when they get a break and get to experience family life.”The government, the airlines, and the schools all need to change.

The issue with the travel industry is something that head teachers want the government to address.

“Removing children from school during the school year is definitely not ideal, as it can cause them to miss out on crucial learning opportunities and present difficulties for teachers who then have to assist students in catching up,” said Mr. Bowen.

However, many families feel that traveling during the school year is their only alternative due to the scandalous price increases we have long experienced throughout the summer, and the cost of living issue is now adding even more stress to already tight household budgets.

“We need the government to intervene and stop this great holiday scam,” someone said.

As a result of the cost of living crisis, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said he would “not be surprised” to see more parents sending their kids on vacation during school breaks.

He stated, “We totally understand the financial strain on families, but we would encourage to parents not to do this.

“It not only interferes with the learning of the affected child, but it also adds to the workload of teachers who then have to deal with that absence and assist that child in making up lost learning,” he continued.

The fact that more kids are taking vacations throughout the school year and skipping out on crucial learning is a serious issue, according to Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation.

“Families are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, and many are finding that vacations during the busiest time of year are just out of reach.

Even though all kids should have vacations, it’s critical that they don’t skip class.

A representative for the Department of Education stated: “We know that consistent attendance at school is essential for a child’s education, wellbeing, and chances for the future.

To provide kids the best possibility of acquiring a top-notch education, we have increased the number of attendance hubs and mentoring programs.

Parents are required to ensure that their children attend school on a regular basis.

We explicitly advise them to schedule their vacations around school breaks and to avoid requesting permission from the school to withdraw their children from classes during term time unless it is genuinely necessary.

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