Recently released figures show that nearly 60,000 more pupils were unauthorised absent from school in 2016 compared to the previous year. This followed a high court ruling in May 2016 in favour of a parent who successfully challenged his local council’s fine for his daughter’s unauthorised absence.
The ruling was subsequently reversed this year by the Supreme Court who said that it is local authorities who can decide what constitutes an unauthorised absence.
The original ruling no doubt contributed to the number of unauthorised absences increasing from 4.2% to 5% with almost 330,000 children recorded as missing school because of unauthorised family holidays in the 2016 autumn term alone. The most likely age group to be absent were for children in primary schools where more than 9% of absences were recorded as unauthorised holidays.
The figures show the scale of pent up demand for family holidays in term time. The school holiday price rise problem has also been compounded by the weak pound (which makes foreign holidays more expensive) and more people travelling to the Western Med due to security concerns in the Eastern Med and North Africa.
While something needs to be done to help families (perhaps by staggering school holidays) it’s not seen as a priority for the main political parties as there has been no mention of it in either their manifestos or recent general election debates.
As a travel agent we have no control over the prices set by hotels, airlines and tour operators but we can offer advice on how to minimise the cost.
Our advice would be:-
a) book early – as there are family holiday discounts available if you do;
b) travel on midweek dates rather than weekends; and
c) travel to slightly longer haul destinations that are not so focused on families but which still have family friendly hotels.