A mother who has saved nearly £10,000 has said she “stands by” taking her children on holiday during term time, and plans on doing the same this summer. Rachel Smith and her two children Brayden, 11, and Elianna, nine, go on holiday abroad every year during term-time.
Rachel, who works in finance, saved £3,000 last year by going on holiday to Majorca and Magaluf in May and June instead of pricier August. While routinely receiving £60-per-child fines, she maintains the decision is a “no brainer” as “it’s nothing compared to the cost of holidays in the school holidays”.
The three of them have been on four holidays in term time so far, and have another trip abroad lined up to Mallorca next week. The mum, from Clacton-on-sea, Essex, said: “Although I have a good job, as a single working parent I just don’t have the money to take my kids on holiday during the school holidays.
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“The cost is outrageous. Why should people, and most importantly children, be penalised because they can’t afford to pay £5,000 for a holiday in August?
“I’ve worked really hard and so do my children, why shouldn’t we get to go on a family holiday? Why should some children miss out on those experiences and only the kids with parents that afford it get to go?
“The cost is double, even triple, out of term time compared to in term time. So long as you look carefully at the school calendar and make sure it’s not impacting your child’s education, I think it’s fine.”
Their maiden term time trip was to Ibiza in May 2018, when Brayden was five and Elianna was four.
The next year they holidayed in Magaluf and Majorca during term time. However the Covid pandemic put a stop to everyone’s holidays for the next two years.
But the family made up for their holiday-less years by visiting Magaluf again in May last year, and Can Picafort, Majorca the next month. The Can Picafort trip cost Rachel £120 in fines, but she says she still saved £3,000 overall on the holiday.
Fines were received for both children for their 2019 trip, and another for Brayden’s absence while in Ibiza. Another trip is planned to Majorca next week, the day after Brayden finishes his SATs.
Rachel said: “I don’t think them missing school to go on holiday once a year has been detrimental to their education at all.
“I always check the calendar carefully to make sure it doesn’t impact their learning too much. At the end of term they’re not doing much, and after SATs Brayden won’t be doing anything at school anyway.
“They’re both doing really well at school. Brayden got 40 out of 40 on his last SATs maths mock test. If it was impacting their education I obviously wouldn’t do it.
“They learn a lot from going on holiday too. They’ve been able to experience other culture, they have a massive social awareness and they’re learning another language. They can even pack their own hand luggage.
“These are all things they wouldn’t be able to experience if we didn’t miss a few days of school. It would be out of the question.
“Schools shut to do teacher training and there’s been strike days. I don’t see why it’s deemed OK for them to miss school for that but not for a family holiday.”
Rachel believes that a system should be implemented in schools where parents are allocated a certain number of days to take their children out of school for holidays.
She adds: “I think there should be a system where kids can have time off during term time.
“Just a few days a year, and there should be red zones at important times of the year like leading up to exams.
“I stand by taking my children out of school for holiday. I never had that growing up, so if I can give my kids that then I’m going to.”