UK schools charge parents fees for kids going on holiday – Travel News

Some of my fondest childhood memories are travelling with my parents and siblings. Knocking off school a few days early or even a couple of weeks early and heading on a trip the family had been planning and talking about around the dinner table for months. We didn’t miss much at school. The final week of term was usually when the teachers had all but given up and the TV was rolled into the room and an “educational” VCR was popped in for us to watch. And if there was schoolwork to catch up on, our teachers trusted our parents to get it done at home, and they did. 

My parents saw the value in travel and the rich, worldly experiences it can offer. Yes, there were trips to Disneyland and water parks, but there was also so much sightseeing and culture. We tasted different cuisines, made friends with kids from the other side of the world, and experienced foreign ways of life. We learned about how the world is a vast and beautiful place, that is more than just where we live. Now, my parents weren’t punished by the school for providing their children with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. No, the school understood the value.

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These days it’s not as easy. In NSW “the NSW Department of Education and NSW Association of Independent Schools both say travel does not qualify as an exemption,” and requires approval from a principal. Across the country, the rules vary, but the general gist is as long as there’s a discussion and approval from senior departments beforehand, it’s ok.

In the UK, it is a different story. To deter parents, schools charge them a fee for taking their children out of class in the middle of the term for a holiday. As of August 2024, parents who pull their kids out of class for more than five days for unauthorised reasons could be charged a minimum of $150 (approx.) per child if paid within 21 days. The figure jumps up to $310 (approx.) if paid within 28 days of the issue date. Parents who exceed two fines within three years may also face prosecution or more severe penalties.

This puts parents in a tricky situation, where travel can only be booked when it’s most expensive – during the school holidays – or face hefty fines from the school and severe ramifications for your children’s absence. 

So if you’re thinking about moving your family and kids to the UK in hopes you’ll get to travel more, especially outside of the school holidays, think again.

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