Term time holidays might be more costly after August 2024: Here’s why

Children with inflatable toys running along a beach

by Rebecca Lancaster |
Updated on

With the endless winter we seem to be experiencing in the UK, you might be tempted to book a family holiday to sunnier shores. But what if your children are in school? Can you take your kids on holiday during the school term? Up until now, the rules have been a little more relaxed, with local authorities taking the decision to fine parents, or not. But from August 2024, the government is introducing a new national framework that means all local authorities will have to consider school fines for holidays, and those fines are going up.

How much will I get fined for taking my child out of school?

So what does that mean for you? Currently, the charge is £60 per parent, per child and rises to £120 if not paid within 21 days. The Department for Education (DfE) has now raised this in line with inflation so if your child is away from school for more than five days without authorisation, you risk a fine of £80 if paid within 21 days, or £160 if paid within 28 days.

The fines per parent are limited to two fines within a three-year period. After this point, the Department for Education states that 'other action like a parenting order or prosecution will be considered', which could lead to a fine of up to £2,500.

Child raising his hand in a classroom
©Getty/10'000 Hours

Why are the fines for missing school increasing?

The change follows a rise in the number of fines being issued for unauthorised absences since the pandemic, with a record 400,000 penalty notices being issued in England in the 2022-23 school year. According to statistics from the Department for Education, almost 90% of these were for holidays in term time.

Can I take my kids on holiday during school term?

With the increase in the fines for missing more than five days of school, you might be wondering if it's worth risking a fine for taking children out of school. There's no denying that children have had a bumpy ride over the past few years and that education took a hit during the pandemic. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said, “our fantastic schools and teachers unlock children’s imagination, potential and social skills”.

Are holidays educational?

But some parents are taking to social media to argue that life-enriching experiences such as holidays and travel can have the same effect, introducing children to new countries, cultures, and people. Not only that, but with the cost of living crisis and the sizeable jump in the cost of flights and hotels during summer holidays and half terms, going away in the school holidays can actually become unaffordable. With these new stricter rules, it’s no surprise so many parents are now choosing to home-school their children, allowing them to book affordable trips abroad during term times.

Nevertheless, in a bid to counter the drop in school attendance since 2018/2019, the government is putting a number of measures in place to try and get more children to attend school more regularly.

Family at a holiday park

What if my child misses school for other reasons?

It's important to note that, while the majority of school absences are for holidays, there are many children who face other barriers to attending school. This may be due to illness, special education needs or disabilities (SEND), or school anxiety and in this case, the schools, local authorities and wider services should work together to support that child in the way that best enables them to access school.

When can you take a child out of school?

With the new school fines coming into place in August 2024, just in time for the 2024-2025 school year, you might be wondering when you can take a child out of school? According to the UK Government website, a child can miss school because of illness and if you’ve gained advance permission from the school. As mentioned above, there will also be other more complex reasons why your child may not be able to attend school regularly and we’d always recommend trying to work with your school, teachers and the local authority to find the best solution for your child and you.

Rebecca Lancaster is a Digital Writer for Mother&Baby, drawing on ten years of parenting her two children to help others navigating their own parenting journey. As a freelance writer, she spent ten years working with leading lifestyle brands, from travel companies to food and drink start-ups, and writing everything from hotel reviews to guides to the best British cheeses. She’s particularly interested in travel and introducing her children to the excitement of visiting new places, trying different foods (less successful) and experiencing different cultures.

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