The majority of parents have no qualms about taking their children on holiday during term time, as confusion reigns about the legality of term-time fines, reveals the World Travel Market 2016 Industry Report, released today (Monday 7 November) at WTM London.
When asked how likely respondents were to take children on holiday during school time following a High Court ruling that a father should not have been fined for doing so, 56% of respondents with children of school age said they would take their child away during term time.
The rest were split equally between being ‘not at all likely’ and ‘not very likely’ to take their kids out of school for a family holiday.
In 2013, the UK Government introduced fines of £60 per pupil – doubling to £120 if not paid within three weeks – for parents of state schools in England who take their children out of school for anything other than ‘exceptional circumstances’.
The Government argues that taking children out for significant periods of time affects their ability to learn and is disruptive both to them and their classmates.
According to the most recent figures, 50,414 fines were issued to parents in the academic year 2014/15, generating a massive £3 million.
One dad, Jon Platt, refused to pay a fine issued by the Isle of Wight education authority and was taken to court. After the judge found in Mr Platt’s favour, the Isle of Wight council then took the case to the High Court, which upheld the original ruling, saying a parent could take a child out of school for a holiday if they had a good attendance record.
Immediately after, there was a surge in bookings and searches for term-time family holidays.
Online travel agency Sunshine.co.uk saw bookings for family holidays during school term dates increase 88% straight after the High Court victory, with searches for holidays during school term up 92%. Most of the confirmed bookings were for the first week of July or last week of September. Bookings and searches for holidays during the school summer break fell by 32% and 45% respectively.
Cheapflights reported searches for term-time travel to family destinations such as Lanzarote, Malaga, Gran Canaria and Florida leapt by 50% after the ruling, while searches to the same destinations during the traditional holiday periods dropped by 20%.
According to Cheapflights, families can save up to 45% travelling during term-time. For example, flights to Lanzarote in September 2016 were listed on the website at £204 compared to £374 in August.
The battle is not over yet, as the Isle of Wight education authority, backed by the Department for Education, has been given leave to appeal Jon Platt’s case at the Supreme Court.
In the meantime, several councils in England – including Trafford, Dudley, Wakefield, Portsmouth, Devon, Warwickshire, Sandwell, Derby and South Gloucestershire – have dropped legal proceedings against parents while others – including Bury, Derby, Southwark, Oldham, Cornwall, Dorset and Lambeth – have decided not to issue fines until the legal situation is clarified once and for all.
Another 40 or so councils haven’t changed their procedures, meaning parents in those areas will still be issued with a penalty notice.
Parents who refuse to pay face prosecution and a maximum £2,500 fine or up to three months in prison.
Meanwhile, in October, Stephen Gorard, Professor of Education at Durham University said there was too little detailed evidence to prove the Government’s assertion that taking children out for the occasional family holiday damages their school work.
WTM London, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “It’s a confusing situation but as it stands, it does seem parents of children with a good attendance record can take them on holiday during school term time.
“The High Court case that made this ruling resulted in a surge in bookings and searches for term-time holidays and many parents clearly feel they can now take their children on holiday during term time and not be fined – or successfully argue against a fine if they do happen to receive one. However, until the case is heard at the Supreme Court, the situation will not be completely clear.”
WTM London is the event where the travel and tourism industry conducts its business deals. Buyers from the WTM Buyers’ Club have a combined purchasing responsibility of $22.6 billion (£15.8bn) and sign deals at the event worth $3.6 billion (£2.5bn). The annual gathering of 50,000 senior travel industry professionals takes place at ExCeL – London from Monday 7 to Wednesday 9 November 2016.
World Travel Market London
WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.
Almost 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM London.
WTM London is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals. WTM London will generate around £2.5 billion of travel industry contracts.
WTM London is part of Reed Travel Exhibition’s World Travel Market events, which also includes Arabian Travel Market, World Travel Market Latin America and World Travel Market Africa. www.wtmworld.com
Reed Travel Exhibitions
Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) is the world’s leading provider of exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry. Its wide-ranging portfolio of events around the globe covers leisure travel, luxury travel, meetings, incentives and business travel, as well as golf, ski and spa travel.
RTE, which organises more than 22 events around the world, includes three divisions; World Travel Market, IBTM Events and International Luxury Travel Market.
RTE is a business unit of Reed Exhibitions.
About Reed Exhibitions
Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organiser, with more than 500 events in 43 countries. In 2014 Reed brought together more than seven million event participants from around the world generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa and organised by 41 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 43 industry sectors with trade and consumer events. It is part of the RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.