This is where in Yorkshire children are missing school for unauthorised holidays as fines surge 61%

School fines have surged
School fines have surged
Have your say

Education is more important than holidays, school leaders have warned, as figures reveal a sharp rise in the number of families opting to take breaks in term-time.

Analysis by The Yorkshire Post reveals a sharp rise in the number of families across the county opting to take breaks during term time since Government legislation was introduced in 2013.

There has been a steep hike in term-time holidays, analysis by The Yorkshire Post has found, as campaigners warn that many parents have had little option when faced with soaring costs.

Department for Education (DfE) figures reveal that the number of school sessions missed for unauthorised holiday has risen nearly two-thirds since the Government’s new penalty policy was introduced in 2013.

Across Yorkshire, there has been a 61 per cent rise in the number of school sessions missed because of unauthorised holiday since the rules were tightened up.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “We strongly urge families against taking pupils out of school for family holidays in term time.

“The DfE published analysis in 2015 showing a clear statistical link between school attendance and educational achievement.

“The higher the percentage of sessions missed the lower the likely level of attainment at the end of primary and secondary school.”

He referenced the high-profile case last year, when Isle of Wight father Jon Platt lost an appeal in the Supreme Court after taking his daughter to Disney World.

The biggest increase in sessions missed in autumn 2017, compared with the previous year, was seen in Barnsley which recorded a 37 per cent rise.

It follows a failed bid by Barnsley Council to shorten its own summer break to tackle the problem.

Coun Tim Cheetham, Barnsley Council’s cabinet spokesperson for People, said: “We are working hard to raise awareness among parents and pupils that every school day matters and

that attendance is linked to achievement. We can see that pupils who have regular attendance achieve better GCSE results than those who miss days.

“While we understand the pressure on families to find affordable holidays, we encourage parents with children of all ages to avoid taking them out of school in term time.”

In 2016, the council proposed a shorter summer break, and two-week October half-term.

However, it said school leaders were not in favour of the change and the plans were axed.

The second-highest increase in sessions missed during the period last year was in North Yorkshire, at 36 per cent, followed by Doncaster with a 32 per cent rise.

Darren Oldfield, 51, from Richmond in Sheffield, was fined five years ago when he took his then 14 and 15-year-old children on holiday.

The carpenter is more philosophical now, and says it very much depends on the pupil’s individual situation, their overall attendance and stage of learning.

But, he adds, it is still easier for parents to factor in the hit of a £60 fine over a £400 price hike for trips in the school holidays.

Mr Oldfield said: “If they have 100 per cent attendance and are hard working, why not let them have time off? It depends on the student and the school itself, if they have a lot of truancy.

“I was fined about five years ago now. I knew, I just took them anyway. I was fined £60, but it was still cheaper, if it means saving £400 overall.

“It is important for them to go to school.

“When they’re at primary school it isn’t so much of an issue, but when it gets to secondary it can be so important.”

In Leeds, the city recorded a rise of 17 per cent in autumn 2017 when it came to school sessions missed during term-time.

Steve Walker, Leeds City Council’s director of children and families, said: “It is our firm belief that the best place for children and young people to be in term-time is in school.

“Missing out on lessons leaves children vulnerable to falling behind, and those with poor attendance tend to achieve less in both primary and secondary school.”

He emphasised that school’s must adhere to the Government’s 2013 rule changes.

Mr Walker added: “As a result of changes by the government in 2013, schools are not allowed to authorise any requests for children to be taken out of school for a holiday during term time.”

Almost half of parents have taken their child out of school to go on holiday, a national survey found earlier this year, with many saying it is too expensive during breaks.

The poll of 2,000 parents, carried out by Atomik Research and commissioned by Co-Op Insurance, found 27 per cent of families had taken children out for a trip more than once.

Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of those who had done so said it was because holidays over the summer were too expensive.

A quarter said they had taken the decision because it was the only time they or their partner could take leave from work.

Where in Yorkshire most children are missing term time for holidays:

61% Rise in school sessions missed over unauthorised holiday in Yorkshire since 2013.

37% Rise in sessions missed in autumn 2016 compared to 2017 in Barnsley.

36% Rise in sessions missed in autumn 2016 compared to 2017 in North Yorkshire.

32% Rise in sessions missed in autumn 2016 compared to 2017 in Doncaster.

31% Rise in sessions missed in autumn 2016 compared to 2017 in York.