Taking kids on holiday during school term

I don’t normally take my kids on big trips at all. At the most it’s a weekend adventure somewhere. Watching the travel deals almost daily, it becomes obvious that you pay more per person when travelling during school holidays. All the best deals that pop up seem to be during term time, and usually I wouldn’t even tease myself with those deals. Recently, I saw one I couldn’t resist. I mean, it got in my head and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Seeking permission

I’m not very impulsive, so the first thing I did was contact my children’s school and ask them if they would be okay with a school term trip. Their reaction was very positive, and as a result I booked the trip. I know if they had shown any resistance to the idea, I would not have pushed it. Though, I can see why many parents don’t stop to ask their schools. I was obsessing over the mere idea of the trip, and my mouse-clicking deal-getting finger was itchy!

When I was 10 my parents took us to Australia for a road trip that started a week before the school holidays. The school just asked that we do a travel journal each. So when I took my own kids away, I got them visual diaries so that they would still get some reading and writing and learning in during the holiday. This worked well for my eldest who wrote a novel every day about her adventures. My youngest made three entries; one about lemonade, one about ice cream and one about watching a movie on the big screen. So it wasn’t a great success for her.

Are you allowed to take your kids out of school?

This experience got me thinking, what are the rules about days off during term time? According to the Ministry of Education, once your child starts at school they need to attend every day until they are 16. This is laid out in the Education Act 1989. Children are able to take time off due to sickness or bereavement, much like us working adults. However, holidays don’t fall into the “good reason” category. A child’s “annual leave” is set out in the 12 weeks of holidays they already have. Birthdays are also not a good enough reason for a child to be absent from school.

Whilst it is not regularly enforced, not attending school is an offence and convicted parents can be fined $30 for every day the child is absent (to a maximum $300). A parent can be fined $3,000 for a subsequent conviction.

In the UK, parents who take their children out of school for holidays without school permission can be fined approximately $120 NZD by the local council, which doubles if you don’t pay by the due date. At least you can apply for permission for your child to take leave. In Australia, the rules vary state-by-state. It is widely discouraged, with some requiring parents to apply for permission, while Tasmania does not allow it at all. In Germany this year, police carried out checks at the airport for children out of school during term time!

School commitments

Here, when a child is at primary school, they need to go to school daily to get into a good habit. They are building relationships and doing classwork that could be disrupted if they have too much time out of school. Once they get to secondary school, the work is harder and there are more important assessments as well. My eldest will be moving out of primary after this year so I know she is going to need every day at school to keep the focus.

While I know this was a once off for me, I can see both sides of the coin here. I don’t want my kids to fall behind, whether it’s on an important project, or just learning the end of year show’s dance moves. However, term three is a funny ol’ term and often is one of the worst for tired teachers and kids. This time around, because my kids had that little mid-term break away, they were nowhere near as tired and teary by the end of term.

Have you ever taken your kids out of school for a trip? What was the school’s response?

This article was written by Kym Moore. Kym is a working mum of two, and occasional blogger. Fancies herself a writer, when she isn’t editing her kids’ vlogs or running their social media at Baby Likes Cake. Follow them on Facebook and YouTube.

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8 Comments

  1. Alezandra 03/11/2018 at 9:03 pm

    So as long as we gain the school’s permission to take a school term trip, it’s not violating the Ministry of Education rules? If the school doesn’t give permission then, will you then be fined? That sounds a bit restrictive…maybe this is a reason why more and more families are going for homeschooling then. It just gives families flexibility.

  2. felicity beets 01/11/2018 at 7:32 pm

    I don’t see a problem with taking children on holidays during school term. I think that you can learn a lot from travelling, such as learning about new cultures, history and you can learn from everything. This is different to just staying home from school and watching tv.

  3. SarahBlair 31/10/2018 at 5:11 pm

    I can’t afford to take my kids on holiday but it would be difficult anyway, during the holidays it’s more expensive and having kids at so many different levels of schooling there is always something on that they need to attend. While my parent were in England recently there was a story about a little girl who was excluded from her class end of year party due to absenteeism. She had missed one day of school, it was to attend her mother’s funeral and still the school wouldn’t overlook it and let her attend!! I find this just mean!

  4. dawnblyth 31/10/2018 at 11:43 am

    We aren’t in a position to be able to afford trips away. However in saying that I think there are ways around taking time off during the term time to go on a holiday. One of my friends has just taken her children to Australia for ten days – the teachers gave them reading books to do while away, maths worksheets and writing a diary while they are away. Mum and Dad both have to make sure there is some time set aside to do this but I think its a great way around it. The kids are still learning and having great life experiences while away.

  5. Shelz69 29/10/2018 at 8:33 pm

    I would never be able to afford to take my children away if I only did it in school holidays. My children are in primary and intermediate so I don’t feel like it is that big of a deal yet. My oldest will be at high school next year so I will not do it during school time whilst she is at high school. I am going on holiday this year for a week and I did check with both my childrens school that it was okay, I also discussed with them the time I was thinking about going and check that there was nothing important going on at school at this time. Both school gave me the thumbs up and I believe that travelling and all that goes with it teaches important life lessons as well. They have term homework assignments that they can either work on in holiday or schedule their homework around their trip which I also teaches them important lessons about planning etc

  6. MuddledUpMolly 23/10/2018 at 9:53 pm

    As a teacher and mother I understand the importance of sticking to the school holidays to go on holiday. As a family we managed to get well priced airfares to Melbourne in the school holidays but this is a rarity which is a real shame as more families are then forced to go during term time.

  7. Bevik1971 19/10/2018 at 10:10 am

    We try and work our holidays around the school holidays, however at times we pull our 5 year old out of school for a day (or sometimes more), if we are going away for a long weekend etc. I do realise the importance of our kids attending school every day etc but I also think that even though they do get their holidays every term, a day off here and there is not gonna hurt. We recently went to see my father-in-law who is 74 and not that well, so we did take her out of school for 4 days as her grandparents won’t be around for that long unfortunately as they are all older, and I think very important she spends as much time as possible with them ūüôā

  8. Mands1980 18/10/2018 at 7:03 pm

    We try and take the kids away in the holidays now but when they were younger we used to go away before the holidays and the school did not mind but as they get older they miss more things at school which is harder to catch up on and because our kids struggle with school as well.

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