GIVING schools greater choice about term dates could create a logistical headache, say parents and headteachers.
Government minister Jenny Willot has said plans to enable all schools to set their own term times could lead to a fall in peak prices by holiday companies. She said the proposals could extend the peak holiday period and help bring prices down.
A 170,000-signature petition has called for action to stop holiday companies ramping up prices during the school holidays and the issue was debated in Parliament on Monday.
Currently local authorities set the dates for some schools but academies, free schools and church schools set their own dates.
Mum of five Tracy Spiers, a student at the University of Gloucestershire, said the idea of schools setting different term dates could create more problems than it solved. Her seven-year-old twin daughters are at Stroud Valleys School, while her older three daughters are at Stroud High School.
“I’m a student so I’m also affected by those term dates. I would prefer it if holiday companies reduced their prices during school holidays than the term dates be changed. They bump them up so much it’s unfair,” she said.
“My children are now at secondary school and taking them out is not an option. We don’t go on as nice holidays as we would like to. It’s a case of camping rather than staying in hotels.
“Trying to find a time when we are all available, and when my husband can be off work is hard.
“I can understand why parents are tempted to take their children out of school.”
Headteacher of Rodborough Community School Maggie Halsey said she believed the plan could create logistical problems.
“There are many children at our school with older siblings. We would have to liaise with secondary schools to co-ordinate dates.
“Last year, our pupils went onto over six different secondary schools.
“It could cause more problems for parents than be helpful,” she said.
Another headteacher at a Gloucester primary school, who declined to be named, said she could understand why parents wanted to go on holiday in term time.
“Now we are not able to authorise absence. Previously it was at the headteacher’s discretion,” she said.
“We were able to look at things such as attendance records. Headteachers know their children.”
Last academic year, Gloucestershire County Council issued 48 penalty notices with £60 fines to families for taking unauthorised holidays.
The Government’s education secretary Michael Gove has insisted parents should not take their children out of school during term time.
Mr Gove said: “There’s no need to sacrifice your child’s education in order to secure a cheaper holiday.
“Schools now have the freedom to change their term dates.”