The current ban on taking children out of school to go on holiday during term-time should be done away with, says the Local Government Association (LGA).
Their reasoning? The ban 'does not recognise the complexities of family life,' reports the BBC. Instead, the LGA says 'common sense' is needed.
Currently parents who take children out of school during term-time face a fine, which increases if not paid within 21 days, followed by the possibility of up to three months in prison.
The rules may vary a bit depending on where you live, but schools can no longer permit families to take children out of school at the head teacher's discretion under the 'special circumstances' rule, and instead may only grant term-time holidays under 'exceptional circumstances'. There has been particular controversy around this, with some disagreement over what constitutes an exceptional circumstance. Some schools have denied permission for a child to be taken out of school to attend a parents' wedding. The LGA thinks time off during term-time should be a possibility to be considered by head teachers on a case=by-case basis for weddings, funerals and even once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, which presumably includes family travel and holidays.
Local authorities are 'obliged' to fine parents and 'enforce legal proceedings' if parents ignore the rules and take children on holiday during term-time in what amounts to an unauthorised absence, reports the BBC.
Where previously taking your kids out of school to go on holiday during term-time might have meant saving a significant chunk of cash compared to the cost of going abroad during the school holidays, the unauthorised absence rule now means that you could face a fine of up to £60 per child. And that's not even the worse case scenario - parents have been ordered by the courts to pay £1000 for taking their children on holiday during the school term. And if you're fined but refuse to cough up, you could find yourself facing a three-month jail stint.
The chairman of the LGA's children and young people board said the system required 'flexibility' and should not mean that family holidays "are just for the rich or indeed children aren't able to take time off in light of family bereavement".
Critics of the current ruling also say that pressure should be placed on travel companies, holiday firms and airlines to adjust their fares in order to make term-time holidays more affordable.
What do you think? Do you agree with the LGA that the decision to permit a family to take their child out of school during term-time should rest with head teachers?
Do you agree that it's too heavy handed to dish out fines and prosecutions for parents who take their children on holiday at term time?
How much money have you saved by going on holiday during the school term?
We'd love to hear from you on our Facebook page - particularly if you've been fined for an unauthorised absence...
Image credit: Flickr/deeknow
TOPICS: Family Holidays