Almost half of parents admit to taking children out of school during term time for holidays

  • Some flights over 100% more expensive during school holidays
  • Schools usually waive fines if parents are honest

Further to news parents in Lancashire were advised that they could be fined up to £1,000 per child, per parent, for taking children on holiday during term time, new research – conducted by travel search engine KAYAK.co.uk – has found that 41% of UK parents admit to doing so.

The research found that 69% of parents who have taken their children out of school for a holiday informed the school of their plans and didn’t get fined. However, 13% said that despite speaking to the school, they still received a fine.

Sixteen per cent of parents say they were not honest with the school about the reason their children were not in attendance and didn’t receive a fine – whilst 2% were not honest and still received a fine.

This indicated that parents are more likely to avoid a fine by telling fibs – as just 11% of those who were not honest received a fine compared to 16% of those who were truthful.

The main reason parents take their children out of school for holidays during term time is price (39%). And pricing data from KAYAK.co.uk shows that in many cases, the saving parents can make by going on holiday during term time can be significantly more than the standard £120 fine set by government (reduced to £60 if paid in 21 days), perhaps helping to explain why the practice is so commonplace.

 

How much do prices increase during the holidays?

A return flight to family favourite Lanzarote in the first week of this year’s Easter holidays comes in at £298 per person – but during the first week of the following term, the price falls to just £141. This represents a price increase of 111% during the school holidays and would cost a family of four £628 more in flight costs alone.

It is a similar story in many other destinations. For example, Malaga flights are on average £148 during the second week of the Easter holidays, but fall to £101 just one week later. Meanwhile increasingly popular Reykjavik falls from £163 to £109 during the same period.

Looking ahead to the big family summer holiday, price differences can be far greater. For example, flights to Orlando in the second week of the school summer holidays cost on average £752. Yet the price nosedives to £415 the first week after term resumes. This represents a price difference of 81% or £337 per person – a difference of £1,348 for a family or four for flights alone.

Those flying to Sydney during the first week of the summer school holidays will find average prices of £1,047 – but during the first week of term, the price falls to just £681 – £366 less.

Prices are not the only reason some parents favour holidays during term time. Of those who do take their children out of school, 27% say it is simply more convenient for them to do so, whilst 17% believe that it is up to them as parents to decide when to take their children on holiday, and not the school.

Cassian Silins, Senior Director for KAYAK, comments: “Planning a family holiday can be stressful, and with prices skyrocketing during the school holidays, that stress can increase. It is simply a case of supply and demand – more people want to go at the same time, and therefore prices increase to reflect this.

“Given the current fine is £60 if paid promptly, it might not be a huge financial deterrent for parents when the difference in price between going away during the holidays and term time can go up to thousands of pounds when all costs are taken into account.

“However, we can see that even during school holidays some destinations go up less than others, and prices reduce towards the end of the school holidays – so with the right planning, taking a holiday in the last week or two can save parents hundreds on flight costs compared to going at the start or in the middle.”

 

Note: Research conducted by Opinium Research amongst 1,007 adults in the UK, between 10-14 January 2019. Prices based on searches on KAYAK.co.uk made between July 22nd 2018 and January 21st 2019. Prices highlighted are based on average price that week for a return economy fare. Prices are not guaranteed and may vary.