Sponsored Guest Post, by Michael Todt of Lending Works
It’s the subject of hot debate at the moment – should parents be allowed to take their children on holiday during term time? Given the prohibitive costs of travel and accommodation, there will no doubt be many families weighing up the cost of the £60 statutory fine against the premium of going away during school holidays, which can sometimes be as much as 115 per cent. It can thus be a big money-saver, depending on the itinerary, destination and length of the trip – which is why tens of thousands of families willingly absorb the penalty.
Of course, the goal posts have now shifted completely with the recent High Court ruling which went in favour of a father who refused to pay his fine. The man, who lives on the Isle of Wight, was a former law student, and argued that even with the six days his daughter missed, she still had sufficient or ‘regular’ attendance to meet the minimum requirement implied by the Education Act.
A game changer?
Some have hailed it as a breakthrough and a precedent for other parents to exploit. However, it’s important to note that judges who cleared him of his fine still haven’t laid out a clear definition or minimum of what ‘regular attendance’ actually is, so it would be wrong to assume that holidaying during term time won’t result in a fine in a general sense.
It’s a thorny issue, and people argue strongly on both sides. Certainly, I’m a big believer in the importance of school attendance, but it’s easy to understand the other side of the argument whereby certain families simply can’t afford to go away during school holidays, or even get leave from work during that time.
The value of family holidays
What is certain is the very importance of holidays themselves, and it’s good to see that there is at least some sort of fightback against the rising costs families are facing. I found it shocking that nearly 1.5 million families in the UK can’t even afford a single day out together, let alone a holiday which involved putting heads on different pillows in terms of accommodation elsewhere.
There are specific organisations and charities like the Family Holiday Association which help struggling families out by organising day trips and holidays. For the rest of us, an increasingly popular option is taking out a loan. Given that interest rates are now pretty low on personal loans, and they are pretty quick and easy to get, it’s not a great surprise that more than 1 in 5 Brits use some kind of finance to fund their holidays.
Of course, the important thing to establish before going down this route is whether the repayments are affordable, and that they aren’t going to apply ever-more pressure onto your household finances – otherwise the whole idea of going on holiday could prove to be self-defeating in terms of R&R!
Deciding what to do
Every family’s individual circumstances and viewpoints are different, and deciding the best course of action is very much down to personal choice. Some are starting to favour ‘staycations’ as a means of avoiding the wallet-draining costs of going abroad altogether.
Either way, as far as possible, do what you can to ensure there is at least some sort of getaway in the pipeline for the family. Holidays shouldn’t be seen as some sort of elite privilege. In the busy lives we lead, they’re a vital way of maintaining sanity, and, more importantly, a way to build lifelong memories that can mould families together. So make some plans and give yourselves something to look forward to – you all deserve it!
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