Ulster parents discuss pros and cons of taking holidays during term-time

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In light of the Supreme Court ruling that Northern Ireland dad Jon Platt was wrong to take his daughter to Disney World during term time, the News Letter sought the opinions of some local parents.

Sara Gayle, a 23-year-old mother of two from Lisburn, feels holidays are just as important as school.

She said: “I think kids learn so much on holidays. They learn about culture, language, history, etc. Surely that is as important as mainstream education.

“In terms of taking them out of school I think it depends what part of the child’s stage is at. If they are approaching transfers, etc I wouldn’t do it.

“Another frustrating thing is the teacher training days occur when the kids are in school not we they are off so they are missing out on school time then.”

Portadown mum Jo-Ann Geddis, 36, who has two children of primary school age, said in many cases term time is the only time parents can afford a holiday.

She said: “I don’t like to take my children out of school but we have had to do it in the past or sacrifice not having a family holiday which isn’t fair. The difference in price between a holiday in the last two weeks of June in comparison to the first two weeks of July for example can be three times more which is disgraceful.

“I also feel for teachers who are in the same situation but have absolutely no choice because they cannot take a week off during term time and therefore either have to pay the scandalous prices or not go at away all.”

Mother of three Jennifer Herdman from Lisburn said she totally understood why parents take their children out of school to go on holidays given the huge increase in the price of holidays when schools are off.

She added: “Being a teacher, I’m aware of importance of education, but two weeks isn’t major unless they have important exams.

“I’d take my kids on hols in term time to avoid the ridiculously high prices, regardless if I could afford or not.”

Belfast mum Caroline Davis feels its important not to send a message to children that a family holiday justifies missing school.

She said: “I took my daughter to Disneyland Paris this year when she was off over Christmas, I personally don’t want her to miss school or to set a standard where she feels it’s ok to miss school when it suits her leisure activities.

“But I do understand how parents see others posting on social media about trips and feel pressured.”

Mother of three Pauline Carson, 42, from Bangor feels better restrictions on holiday firms would stop kids missing vital lessons.

She said: “I don’t think it’s good practice to take kids out of school to go on holiday otherwise everyone would be taking off and kids missing important work.

“But fining parents is wrong – onus needs to be on holiday companies being regulated so they can’t rip people off. Otherwise maybe schools could give families an allowance of flexible days so they can do it once or twice but not make it an annual event.”

Unlike in England where councils pursue truancy, the Education Authority here deals with unauthorised absence. When attendance falls below 80% a referral may be made to the Welfare Service.