Parents should be allowed to pull their children out of school during term time to take them on holiday, according to 79% of those who took part in a MoneySavingExpert.com poll – though most believe restrictions should apply.
We ran the poll following a recent High Court ruling in favour of a dad, Jon Platt, who took his six-year-old daughter to Florida during term time. We had a massive response, with more than 35,000 people taking part.
Asked "Should parents be allowed to take their kids on holiday in term time?", an overwhelming number of respondents – both those with school-age kids and those without – said parents should be permitted to take their children away.
But most users also said there should be a strict maximum number of days (for example, one or two weeks a year) that children can be absent from school during term time, and that holidays should be booked in advance.
For the full lowdown on the rules as they currently stand, see our Can you take your kids on term-time holidays without being fined? guide.
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Poll findings in full
Here's a summary of the key findings:
|Parents of school-age kids (18,781 votes)||People who don't have school-age children (16,564 votes)||Overall (35,345 votes)|
And here are the detailed responses:
|Response||Parents of school-age kids (18,781 votes)||People who don't have school-age children (16,564 votes)|
|No – children need schooling, a holiday is not good enough reason to stop||7%||18%|
|No – choice would be nice, but it's too difficult for teachers if children are constantly absent||6%||12%|
|Yes – parents should have total freedom on this||11%||9%|
|Yes – but only for a strict number of days (eg, one or two weeks a year), booked in advance and not at a crucial time||69%||50%|
|Yes – but only for younger children (infant and primary, not senior school)||7%||11%|
'Out of touch with the popular view'
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, says: "Quite clearly, the Government is out of touch with the popular view here – not just of parents but right across society.
"Some holidays can be educational, but more so it's quality time between parents and their children, and many people see that as very beneficial, as much as education in itself.
"There are many blockers for people who do shift work or have lower incomes or restrictive holidays, and some flexibility is important.
"Yet this isn't about an unfettered right to take children out of school – people want some restriction. Perhaps the most important element is there is some genuine clarification, codification and consistency, so people can know and plan accordingly. The situation at the moment is frankly farcical."
What do the rules say currently?
The results of our poll may make for interesting reading among local authorities, schools and parenting groups as they come hot on the heels of a landmark legal decision, which will shape future rules around term-time holidays.
As things stand, if you take your child out of school during term time without permission you could face a £60 fine or worse. This applies to parents of children aged 5-16 at English state schools (private schools are exempt).
However, just hours after the High Court ruling was made on 13 May in the case involving Jon Platt, the Department for Education (DfE) vowed to change the legislation.
A number of local authorities have since said they will hold off issuing fines to parents who take their children out of school during term time until they get more guidance from the DfE.
Nevertheless, any fines for unauthorised absences during this interim period could be potentially issued at a later date.
For more info see our Can you take your kids on term-time holidays without being fined? guide.