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Balancing rising holiday costs & school attendance

Family on holiday
With holiday costs soaring and the huge price gap between school and term time breaks, thousands of parents are now advocating for children to be allowed to take holiday during term time – without the fear of facing fines. Matt Revill, primary head, explores the issue.

Let's talk about something we all love: family holidays! There's truly nothing like the joy of exploring new places and creating beautiful memories with our loved ones. But as summer approaches, we're faced with a common dilemma: balancing the excitement of a family holiday with the importance of school attendance.

A recent petition has been signed by thousands of parents across England, which advocates for children to have term-time leave without fines. And it's no wonder – with holiday costs soaring and the huge price gap between school and term time breaks, many families are finding it increasingly challenging to afford quality time together. 

Why attendance matters

But here's the thing: while we absolutely cherish family bonding time, we can't ignore the crucial role of consistent school attendance in our children's academic journey. Missing lessons can disrupt their learning rhythm and make it tough for them to catch up, especially on new topics.

School is more than just academics; it's a place for our kids to grow socially, build friendships, and feel a sense of belonging. Regular attendance ensures they get the full benefit of this enriching environment, both academically and socially.

Most schools want to help

Schools face pressure from various authorities to enforce good attendance, but nobody likes the idea of fines. Here's the silver lining: schools are here to support parents and children. By maintaining open communication and discussing any holiday plans with them early on, we can find ways to keep our kids on track academically even while away.

What can we do to strike a balance? 

Here are a few ideas:

  • Talk to your child's school: they might have resources to help your child stay on top of their studies during a term-time holiday and can advise you on any potential fines.
  • Consider alternatives: can the holiday be planned during school breaks? Maybe a shorter trip during term time could be a compromise? Check if the school has any INSET days coming up that could help reduce costs.
  • Prioritise education: If a term-time holiday is unavoidable, make sure your child catches up on missed work. Communicate with their teacher beforehand to see if there are any assignments they can complete while away. You can always use TheSchoolRun for homework help and downloadable worksheets

Focus on attendance after Covid

Since the Covid pandemic, there's been a renewed focus on ensuring every child's attendance is the best it can be. While we understand the challenges fines and restrictions on term-time leave can pose, let's keep the dialogue open with our schools and work together to find solutions.

Reach out to your child's school

While we may not be able to change holiday prices overnight, we can take steps to ensure our kids get the most out of their education while still enjoying quality family time. So, if you're planning a getaway, don't hesitate to reach out to your child's school and see how they can support you.

Here's to happy holidays and successful school days – let's strike that perfect balance together!


Matt Revill is a primary school headteacher with over 20 years experience of working in schools. He has worked in a range of settings and currently works within a multi-academy trust of 14 schools. In his free time, he enjoys reading, computing, holidaying and spending time with his family and friends. Matt has a son who is currently working his way through A-levels at college.

Matt Revill photo