Playing hooky

playing hooky

Are you reading this at work when you should be doing something more constructive, or are you reading this on a lounger somewhere in the sun with a refreshing cocktail at your elbow?

If the latter you could be one of the 37% of parents who admit to taking their children out of school during term time in order to save money on “out of season” holidays.

By “out of season” of course, holiday firms aren’t talking about a week in Skegness in February, they are talking about any time, any place, anywhere, so long as it isn’t between the third week in July and the first week in September when most schools currently shut up shop for the summer holidays.

After ten years of letting my sister pick up the tab and fly herself and her family over to England from Canada during the summer we’ve finally bitten the bullet and will be flying out to her this summer.

It’s cost us almost the price of a beach hut in Suffolk to pay for the flights, yet had we been able to fly out in February (not in half-term, obviously – that would have been too easy) it would have cost us almost half the price, so I can see that if our children were younger and slightly easier to lose in a classroom we would have been tempted to whisk them away early and just tried to get away with it. (“Katy? Katy? Anyone seen Katy?“ “She’s in the book corner Miss, behind James and the Giant Peach” “What? Again? I haven’t seen her since last Friday.” Nope, it’s not going to happen, even if I bribed her most enterprising friends…)

Meanwhile the Government is trying to dissuade families from taking children out of school by allowing local authorities to impose a discretionary skiver’s fine (typically £50 a child) on those who do throw caution to the wind and head off out of season, but as researchers from the Nationwide Building Society showed this week that fine is not much of a deterrent when youcompare it with the savings involved.

For example, Nationwide worked out the price of a week’s holiday at Center Parcs in Wiltshire for a family of four at the beginning of July was £1,038 and compared it with the cost of a holiday in the last week of July £1,928 – a saving of £890.

Far be it from me to advocate mass skiving, but in these tough times it does make it easy to understand why parents are willing to take their children out of school for a week if it makes the difference between being able to afford a holiday or not being able to.

A saving of almost a thousand pounds makes an incredible difference, but I can’t be the only one thinking “How much? £1,928! For a week in Center Parcs! Meals not included!”  I’m going to take another look at the cost of that beach hut in Suffolk. It’s got a nicer kitchen than ours for a start and fisheye lens or no fisheye lens, looks slightly roomier…

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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