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This summer I made the decision to take my children out of school for a holiday. It wasn’t a decision I came to lightly; as a rule-follower it felt pretty unnatural to inform the school I’d be committing the cardinal sin of unauthorised absence. But I did it in the knowledge that the benefits of our trip would outweigh the week they took off from education.
As a priority I made sure our holiday was as educational as it was fun. The children learned how to sail, how to windsurf and gained bagfuls of confidence in their swimming. We met people of all different kinds of nationalities – Greek, Dutch, German – and I made sure we learned some Greek words, tried a range of Greek food and talked about how Euros were different to Pounds.
The children had 6 days out and, I’m guessing because their attendance is otherwise high, I wasn’t fined. But I did worry about it.
As a single parent – or any parent – it’s difficult to ignore the crazy inflation in price of holidays taken outside of term time. According to research by FairFX, some family package holidays rise in price by a whopping 115% during the summer break. And if you’re looking at a £3,000 holiday verses a £6,000 holiday… it’s a no-brainer. I’d find it very hard to pay out an extra 3 grand, just for the sake of the children not missing a few days of lessons.
However, I do understand some of the school’s protestations over term-time holiday absence. It becomes tricky for the teachers to catch children up if class members are away for weeks on end at different times of the year, and as kids get older it becomes more and more important they are present so they don’t miss large parts of the curriculum.
But for me? I took a week off school in favour of DisneyWorld Florida when I was 14 and still turned out (just about) alright. My two will have a week off for a Ski trip come January and, although I’ll still feel guilty about that unauthorised absence, the benefits will outweigh the guilt.
What would you do?