Spike in term time holidays as parents struggle to escape work during school break

12 August 2015

More fines dished out by schools as parents take ‘honesty is best policy’ approach

Cost may not be the only reason parents take their children out of school during term time, according to new research1 from Nationwide Building Society that shows more than half of parents who work (54%) struggle to get time off work during the school holidays. This is up from just under two in five parents (38%) in 20142. With increasing media and political attention on the issue of term time ‘hooky holidays’, figures show that families are still taking mid-term breaks because of coveted annual leave during the traditional holiday season.

Cost remains key

Despite issues with taking holiday, cost still remains a key factor when parents decide to book their breaks during the school year. In fact, the Nationwide survey of 2,000 parents1 with children aged between five and 16, shows that four in ten (40%) admitted they had taken their children out of school to get a better deal. This is an increase on last year2, when just over a third (36%) withdrew their children from school.

The difference in cost between a holiday in June and a holiday in August remains substantial. For example, a typical week’s all-inclusive vacation in Spain for a family of four in August costs £1,2643 more than an equivalent holiday taken at the end of June, equating to a 68 per cent rise.

Summer Holiday Comparison Chart3

Cost examples based on online prices researched on Wednesday 10 June 2015.
Typical family of four, with two children aged 7 and 9

Destination Term time cost School holiday cost School holiday premium
Centre Parcs, Wiltshire £1,028 (22 June for 7 nights) £1,848 (3 August for 7 nights) £820
Disneyland Paris £2,341 (22 June for 7 nights) £2,512 (10 August for 7 nights) £171
Spain £1,872 (24 June for 7 nights) £3,136 (5 August for 7 nights) £1,264

Fines3 on the up

The Nationwide survey1 revealed a significant increase on the number of parents who have received a fine from their children’s school. A quarter (25%) of parents who had taken a term time holiday had been fined compared to just six per cent last year2.

All this is despite a separate poll4 showing that nearly three quarters (71%) of teachers do not think parents should be fined for taking their children out of school during term time for a holiday. And at their annual conference in Harrogate in earlier this year, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) voted for no fines to be levied on parents taking children out of school during term time.

Honesty is the best policy?

Despite the risk of a financial penalty, parents are taking a surprisingly upfront and honest approach with three in five (60%) admitting that they told the school that they were going on holiday. The remaining parents (40%) took a different approach and made an excuse or said their children were ill in order to try and escape any potential fines.

Graham Pilkington, Nationwide’s Director of Banking, comments: “Difficulties getting time off work, added to the well-publicised price premium associated with going away during the school holidays, mean that more parents are resorting to holidaying during term time. Nationwide has calculated that parents could save hundreds of pounds when booking holiday outside the traditional season. As a result, the number of fines handed out is soaring, although many are willing to take a small financial hit so as to avoid a significantly larger holiday cost.

“While Nationwide cannot reduce the price of holiday, we do have a number of benefits available to cut costs, such as multi-trip travel insurance, which is included in our FlexAccount and FlexPlus current accounts; our Select credit card, which offers unlimited commission free purchases abroad, and commission free ATM withdrawals on our FlexPlus account.

“We also offer Simply Rewards, which provide our Visa debit and credit card customers with a range of offers, whether money off airport parking and car hire, or discounts on eating out and hotels.”

Notes to Editors

1 The poll of 2,000 parents of children aged 5 to 16 years old was carried out for Nationwide by online market researchers, OnePoll.com, and took place between 1st and 4th June 2015.

2 Total sample size was 7,497 adults of which 1,258 were parents of children aged 5 to 16 years old. Fieldwork was undertaken by YouGov plc between 16th - 20th May 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

3 https://www.gov.uk/school-attendance-absence/legal-action-to-enforce-school-attendance

4 http://www.itv.com/news/update/2014-02-24/71-believe-travel-costs-amid-school-holidays-are-unfair/

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