Teachers Say New Rules Will Be Wasted
The controversial subject of term-time holidays is being debated by MPs today, but as the government faces calls to use “common sense“1 instead of issuing blanket fines to parents, new research shows one solution – giving heads the power to set school holidays outside of periods of peak pricing – has been overlooked.
YouGov research carried out on nearly 500 state school teachers2 suggests less than 1 in 20 (4%) state schools will be taking advantage of so-called staggering, a policy announced by Michael Gove in 2013 at the same time as he introduced the new fines for truancy3. The rules, which were set to come into force in September, let individual heads change term-time dates without having to consult with central powers.
But over half (54%) of teachers and heads surveyed as part of Travelzoo’s Parent Trap 2015 study said they weren’t even aware of the changes – while nearly two-thirds (62%) say they oppose the idea.
Travelzoo’s European Managing Director, Richard Singer, who brought a number of travel companies together to discuss the idea of staggering, commented, “Most of the travel companies we’ve spoken to agree staggering should be investigated further, as it could lead to more affordable holidays for state-school parents. However, we believe it would only work if holidays were set per region, and not per school. It’s obvious that not enough is been done to help schools understand how best to use it, and that’s been backed up by our meetings with head teachers and from our research.”
Travelzoo is putting forward recommendations to investigate regional staggering of holidays to MPs as part of today’s debate.
The study shows 58% of teachers feel heads and governors haven’t been given enough guidance on how to implement staggering, compared to just 3% who think they have, while exactly half of those who took part admit the new rules will likely give parents access to cheaper holidays.
Singer added, “For UK holidays in particular we are confident costs could come down. If, for example, the summer-holiday period were staggered to encompass a 10-week period rather than our current six weeks, this would mean tourist hotspots like Devon and Cornwall would have a bigger window of opportunity to welcome UK families.
“This in turn would have a dramatic effect on local businesses, which suffer from excess demand in July and August followed by bookings dropping off a cliff in September.
“Some of the major airlines have also told us that prices would drop if UK school holidays were staggered regionally, in the same way they are in France and Germany. We urge the government to help the education bodies and schools implement staggering in this way before we miss out on the biggest opportunity we have to fight the Parent Trap.”
· 54% not aware of the new staggering powers
· 15% are aware of the new staggering powers starting in September
· 29% are aware of the staggering powers, but didn’t know they were happening in September
· 4% are aware of their schools planning to stagger school term times
· 65% say they’re not aware of their schools planning to stagger school term times
· 31% don’t know whether their schools are planning to stagger school term times or not
· 19% think staggering will be good for the school
· 56% think staggering will be bad for the school
· 23% support staggering
· 62% oppose staggering
· 50% think it will give parents access to cheaper holidays
· 30% disagree it will give parents access to cheaper holidays
· 25% think schools should speak to the travel industry before any staggering decisions are made
· 58% think heads and governors haven’t been given enough guidance on how to stagger school term times
· 3% disagree that heads and governors haven’t been given enough guidance on how to stagger school term time
· 66% think the lack of clarity around how to stagger will mean the term times won’t change that much
· 73% have experienced parents lying to get their children out of school during term time
· 67% say they always report the absence
· 31% have experienced parents receiving a fine for the unauthorised absence of their child from school during term-time
- 478 UK primary or secondary teachers of state schools were surveyed by YouGov, on behalf of Travelzoo, between 16-25 June, 2015
Notes to editor
If you’d like to find out more on the story or set up an interview with Richard Singer, please contact;
Laura Higgins – 07824 352870, 020 7421 0498 (weekdays only) or firstname.lastname@example.org
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