Mum saves £10,000 taking kids on holiday in term time - and would do it again despite the fines
Rachel Smith takes her children out of school to go on holiday during term time every year
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A mum saved almost £10,000 by taking her kids on holiday during term time despite being fined.
Rachel Smith, 33, “stands by” her decision to take her two children Brayden, 11, and Elianna, nine, out of school before the end of term every year - and plans to do so again.
The single mum-of-two saved a whopping £3,000 last year alone by taking her children to Majorca and Magaluf in May and June, rather than during the peak season in August.
Despite regularly receiving a fine of £60 per child, she says the decision to take them out of school is a “no brainer” as the fee is nothing compared to the cost of going abroad during the school holidays.
Ms Smith, a finance worker from Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, has been on holiday with her children during term time four times so far, and is due to jet off to Mallorca next week for another break.
She said: “Although I have a good job, as a single working parent I just don’t have the money to take my kids on holiday during the school holidays. The cost is outrageous. Why should people, and most importantly children, be penalised because they can’t afford to pay £5,000 for a holiday in August?
“I’ve worked really hard and so do my children, why shouldn’t we get to go on a family holiday? Why should some children miss out on those experiences and only the kids with parents that afford it get to go?
“The cost is double, even triple, out of term time compared to in term time. So long as you look carefully at the school calendar and make sure it’s not impacting your child’s education, I think it’s fine.”
‘It doesn’t impact their learning’
Ms Smith says the first holiday her family took during term time was a trip to Ibiza in May 2018, when Brayden was five and Elianna was four. The family went on to visit Magaluf in Majorca, Spain, the following year - again while the children were still supposed to be in school.
Covid restrictions put in place during the pandemic meant they were unable to holiday abroad for the next two years, but they made up for lost time by holidaying in Magaluf again in May last year, followed by a trip to Can Picafort, Majorca, Spain, in June.
Ms Smith received a fine for each of her children in 2022 for their Can Picafort trip, amounting to £120 in total. But she says she still managed to save £3,000 on the holiday by going off-peak.
She was also handed fines for her two children for their holiday in 2019, plus a fine for Brayden’s absence during their 2018 Ibiza trip. But she remains undeterred and is set to fly to Majorca next week, a day after Brayden finishes his SATs.
Ms Smith claims the trips have had little impact on her children’s learning as she carefully plans the holidays around their school calendar to ensure minimum disruption.
She said: "I don’t think them missing school to go on holiday once a year has been detrimental to their education at all. I always check the calendar carefully to make sure it doesn’t impact their learning too much.
“At the end of term they’re not doing much, and after SATs Brayden won’t be doing anything at school anyway. They’re both doing really well at school. Brayden got 40 out of 40 on his last SATs maths mock test. If it was impacting their education I obviously wouldn’t do it.
“They learn a lot from going on holiday too. They’ve been able to experience other culture, they have a massive social awareness and they’re learning another language. They can even pack their own hand luggage. These are all things they wouldn’t be able to experience if we didn’t miss a few days of school. It would be out of the question.
“Schools shut to do teacher training and there’s been strike days. I don’t see why it’s deemed OK for them to miss school for that but not for a family holiday.”
Ms Smith says schools should introduce a system that allocates parents a number of days in which to take their children out of school to go on holiday to help families avoid extortionate costs.
She added: “I think there should be a system where kids can have time off during term time. Just a few days a year, and there should be red zones at important times of the year like leading up to exams.
“I stand by taking my children out of school for holiday. I never had that growing up, so if I can give my kids that then I’m going to.”