Seven in ten parents disagree with Gove’s fines

- Families plan to fight back against the ‘parent trap’ surrounding holidays -

Travelzoo, the UK's top travel and entertainment deals provider, has commissioned an independent survey* to find out how UK parents really feel about the fines they can now receive for taking children out of school during term time. The survey revealed that 69% of UK parents are against the government fines and 45% are willing to take their children out of school and risk being fined. 

In September 2013, the government amended the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006, which had previously given headteachers the power to grant children up to 10 days' leave during term time for the purpose of taking a family holiday. The alteration stripped out the reference to family holidays, leaving headteachers the option to grant term-time leave in exceptional circumstances only. Parents taking their children out of school for holidays are now subject to fines enforced by local authorities, and several cases of unpaid fines are now pending up and down the country.

Attitudes to the fines varied across the UK, with parents in the London area being the most "obedient" - only 36% of Londoners would consider taking their children out of school during term time, whereas 54% of Welsh parents would be willing to take their children on holiday during the school term. Overall, 46% of parents feel that common sense should prevail, with pupils who have good attendance records being granted occasional leave for holidays during the school term.

Travelzoo also found that 15% of parents were still unaware of the fines and, of the 85% who were aware of the fines, shockingly, only 31% were made aware of the legislation amendments by their children's schools. The remaining 69% found out via the media, social media or from other parents.

"We're starting to see the real impact of what we are calling the Parent Trap -- brought to life by cases such as the Sutherland family from Telford, who have been fined and hauled in to court for taking their children out of school for holidays during term time. There is a growing sense of frustration from parents who feel corralled into ever-decreasing periods when they can take holidays but when prices are extremely high; exacerbated by the fact the UK has the highest flight tax in the world," comments Travelzoo's European managing director, Richard Singer.

 "It's time the government recognised that the Parent Trap is affecting British families and that, if we don't halt the rising costs and government-enforced restrictions, family holidays will start to become a luxury only a few can afford," he continues.

The fines can be up to £60 per child, per parent, for each period of absence. So a family with three children in compulsory education could be levied with a £360 fine, which would then double if it the fine wasn't paid within seven days. Those parents who refuse to pay may face court action and, if prosecuted, a fine of up to £2500 and a possible jail sentence of up to three months.

 Singer urges parents to sign up to the e-petition here to join the 38,500 people who want to see the government address these issues. Once the petition reaches 100,000 signatures then it will trigger a debate in the House of Commons by the Backbench Business Committee.

 Singer's Three Steps to solve the Parent Trap

1) A more realistic and flexible approach from the UK government to restrictions on when parents can take their children out of school for family holidays. A blanket ban on all family holiday during term time is unworkable, and some leniency for parents of young children with good attendance should be considered.

2) The suspension or reduction of APD during the school summer holiday weeks to help lessen the cost of flights during this peak period. 

3) A review by the travel industry -- especially the leading tour operators -- of what can be done to help families during school-holiday periods.

* This survey was conducted by independent third party; Censuswide who polled 1179 parents of children still in compulsory UK education. 

About Travelzoo

Travelzoo is a global media commerce company. With more than 28 million members in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific and 26 offices worldwide, Travelzoo® publishes offers from more than 2,000 travel, entertainment and local companies. Travelzoo’s deal experts review offers to find the best deals and confirm their true value.

Certain statements contained in this press release that are not historical facts may be forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. These forward-looking statements may include, but are not limited to, statements about our plans, objectives, expectations, prospects and intentions, markets in which we participate and other statements contained in this press release that are not historical facts. When used in this press release, the words “expect”, “predict”, “project”, “anticipate”, “believe”, “estimate”, “intend”, “plan”, “seek” and similar expressions are generally intended to identify forward-looking statements. Because these forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, there are important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements, including changes in our plans, objectives, expectations, prospects and intentions and other factors discussed in our filings with the SEC. We cannot guarantee any future levels of activity, performance or achievements. Travelzoo undertakes no obligation to update forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this press release. Travelzoo and Top 20 are registered trademarks of Travelzoo. All other names are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective owners.