A new study has explored what parents and teachers really think about skipping school to get cheaper holidays.
The ‘Parent Trap 2015 Study,’ conducted by travel deals company Travelzoo, polled over 2000 parents of children for attend state-schools, and 500 primary- and secondary-school teachers to uncover the truth about term-time holidays and attitudes to the government’s controversial fines.
It found that one in five UK parents had already lied to their child’s school in order to take a cheaper family holiday, with over half saying they were prepared to lie in the near future.
A further two-thirds of parents admitted to asking their children to lie and cover up the real reason for their absence from school.
As the end of the summer term draws to a close, many school anticipate a drop in attendance during the final few days. More than a quarter of parents say they have considered going away on term-time holidays to avoid the summer price-hike. Only 13 per cent of parents felt that it was wrong for families to take a trip during term-time to save money.
Researching the price difference between holidays taken in the last week of the school term and those beginning a week later, Travelzoo’s Deal Experts found that a week in the sun for a family of four at a popular European destination went up by an average of £800.
When asked to share their views on how children’s education might be affected by missing the last few days of the summer term, eight out of ten teachers felt that the impact would not be severe.
More than 60 per cent of teachers admitted that their pupils mostly play games at the end of the year, whilst 50 per cent said children would be watching films or cartoons.
Louise Hodges, spokesperson for Travelzoo commented: “Clearly a good education is the top priority for parents and teachers alike. However, when you consider that even UK teachers admit the last couple of days of summer term are not critical to a child’s education, it is easy to see why some parents are taking the decision to leave a few days earlier and access cheaper holidays.
“Few parents believe that losing several hundred pounds so that their child can watch a DVD in class makes financial sense. With more than half of UK parents prepared to lie in order to avoid the fines and over 64,000 fines issued from September 2013-2014, it’s clear that the current system isn’t working.”
The study also found that three quarters of teachers had experienced parents lying to them about absences since the penalties came into force. A further 49 per cent stated that the fines were affecting their relationships with pupils’ families.
With the fining system clearly under heavy fire, more than half of the teachers polled said they thought head teachers, not local councillors, should have the power to grant discretionary absences.
Hodges added: “The fining system is messy, confusing and makes law-abiding families feel like criminals. The government scrapped airport tax for under-12s this year – but that felt like an election sweetener, and clearly more needs to be done if parents are still lying to schools.
“We don’t endorse unauthorised absences, but we urge the government to reconsider the black-and-white nature of the fines, scrap APD for all passengers during school-holiday dates and to join us as we sit down with travel companies, parents and education groups over the next few months to explore solutions to a problem which is clearly not fixed.”