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Published on Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pressure mounts to end blanket ban on termtime holidays

Local government is calling for a 'common sense approach' to term time holidays because the current fines system is unworkable.

The Local Government Association says strict new rules on term-time holidays, where parents are being fined, need to be changed.

It said blanket bans were not working and fines were increasingly being successfully challenged in the courts under human rights laws.

The call comes after a case last week when a father avoided prosecution for refusing to pay a fine for taking his child out of school for a holiday to Disney World.

The case was thrown out of the Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court after he argued the law required parents to ensure their children attended school only 'regularly'.

Before tighter guidelines were brought in two years ago, head teachers were able to grant 10 days holidays in 'exceptional circumstances'.

But the crackdown means a holiday is not classed as an exceptional circumstance.

Louise Hodges, a spokeswoman at Travelzoo, said it backed the call for a new approach.

The agent has been campaigning for more flexibility and for the UK Government to remove Air Passenger Duty during the school holidays to make them more affordable for families.

"On one hand this government is attempting to make schools as autonomous as it can, but on the other, it's insisting all heads stick to an untenable one-size-fits-all approach to absences. We wholeheartedly support the LGA's calls for a more common sense approach," said Hodges.

The issue will be debated in Westminster on Monday October 26.

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