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Dad in Gloucestershire keeps his children off school 'sick' to avoid paying high holiday prices

By The Citizen  |  Posted: January 31, 2014

Comments (6)

PARENTS are being urged to join a campaign to drive down the costs of 'greedy' holiday rip-offs.

As airlines and hotels ramp up their prices by as much as 200 per cent when children get a week off school, families are finally fighting back.

The online petition titled 'Stop holiday companies charging extra in school holidays' has gained around 150,000 signatures of support and could see the subject debated in Parliament.

Dad Steve Williams, 35, admitted to having faked his daughters' sickness so he was able to take them on a long weekend, as a one-week holiday was financially out of reach.

The Apperley dad to Jade, 13, and Tammy-Ann, five, said he had not been able to afford a week-long family holiday for three years.

He said: "We simply do not have an option to take our children away for longer than a four-day weekend, We just cannot afford it.

"It is simply down to the holiday companies being greedy in the face of supply and demand.

"I do feel bad calling the children in sick, but unfortunately a long weekend during school time is the only thing we have chance to do together as a family away."

Parents who do risk taking their children away during the cheaper term time are at risk of getting council fines as some schools crackdown on unauthorised holidays.

Nearly 50 families were given a £60 fine from Gloucestershire's Local Education Authority during 2012-13 for taking their youngsters out of school.

The Department for Education sets guidelines for school attendance, but it is up to the individual schools whether they authorise the absence or not.

Vanessa Worrall, project manager for Together Matson, said parents were stuck between a rock and a hard place and urged them to sign the petition.

She said: "Most parents cannot afford to take their children away during their holidays because of the prices.

"The holiday companies are really discriminating against parents and people with children.

"Holidays are beneficial to the whole family and not just children. In this day and age when most parents work and for them to just spend that kind of quality time together has to be a benefit.

"What the holiday companies are doing is immoral. We don't double the price of karate lessons at the centre because it is half term.

"From the parents I speak to they are not sacrificing their holidays, but simply going during school time, risking the fine and it is the children who are paying the price."

Karen Archer, from Netmums South West, lives in the Forest of Dean. She said: "I have not heard of anyone local being fined for taking their children out of school.

Another parent, who did not wish to be named, said the £60 fine was a "drop in the ocean" if compared to the holiday price hike you would pay during the half-term.

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  • RoadWombat  |  February 02 2014, 12:54PM

    Why on earth should schools (or anybody else) change what they do to accommodate people merely going on a holiday? School holidays are there to enable children to participate in the Christmas and Easter festivals and for the ones that live in the country to help out on the farm during the busy summer!

    |   -1
  • SmlngAssassin  |  February 01 2014, 10:00AM

    To help the hard of thinking can I add that; 1. Staggered holidays could be by county, region, whatever, plus there will always be overlap known well in advance 2. What % of families have children at different schools, and for how many years 3. Everyone suffers in those expensive 13+ weeks (including those without children) 4. Is it not stupid that a high week in Feb is more expensive than a mid week in June 5. Another reason why I'm glad I'm not a teacher or with one

  • taylke  |  January 31 2014, 10:16PM

    Staggering school holidays would probably create more problems than it would solve. What happens if a family has children at different schools with different holiday dates? Do they just take one of them on holiday because they would be fined for removing the other(s) in term time? As others have already said - having children is a lifestyle choice, live with the consequences.

    |   3
  • SmlngAssassin  |  January 31 2014, 1:33PM

    As a parent the solution has to be to stagger or vary school terms/holidays, as I recognise holiday companies have to make profits...plus there would be other benefits too, with staggered holiday traffic on the road and employees not all fighting over the same weeks.

    |   2
  • RoadWombat  |  January 31 2014, 11:45AM

    1. It's the parents' choice to have kids. 2. Holiday companies aren't charities. 3. It makes perfect business sense to charge lower prices at times of lower demand to encourage takeup.

    |   -8
  • dcfc79  |  January 31 2014, 10:19AM

    This is 1 of the pitfalls of having kids along with what other costs you have to bear.

    |   -7