School Holiday, No Holiday

So our ongoing hunt for a house with a garden is not going to be sorted in time for the summer holidays. I will keep looking, but now have turned my mind to the imminent 6 weeks of entertaining two boys without a garden to throw them out into with a bowl of water to play in.

Suitcase

The upside of having not moved is that it means we have a little more spare money in our pockets still, so I thought ‘I will book a holiday, somewhere in Devon or the New Forest, somewhere with outdoor space in lieu of having our own.’

Then I started looking at prices. Bloody Nora, I will need a mortgage for a simple few nights in a caravan let alone anything fancier.

I had quotes the equivalent of a months rent for our huge 3 bedroom maisonette just to spend 4 nights in a little caravan. A mid week break at a popular family retreat with pools and the like would set me back £1,100 plus.

The annoying thing is if I went next week it would be half the price. But I can’t go next week because schools are no longer allowed to grant a few days off for a family break, even though these last weeks of term seem to contain nothing more educational than tidying up and sports days.

I understand the holiday companies arguments that it is simple ‘supply and demand’, but as a twitter friend rightly pointed out it is hardly a natural market driven situation, more an enforced by society one.

I won’t (and can’t afford) to pay those sort of price hikes. I won’t give myself a black mark at the school gates by taking my children out without permission. We won’t get a holiday, now or in the foreseeable future.

We used to take long weekends, the kids only needed 2 days off school that way, but even that is forbidden under the new draconian rules. Yet I haven’t noticed the holiday companies changing to reflect a new demand for two night breaks though, no, it’s still 3 night weekends even though families now have to travel home a day earlier so they can get their kids back to school for the Monday. Where is the response to that demand by the market?

We will have day trips instead of a holiday. I am blessed to live in a beautiful part of the country, we will still have a lovely time, but I do think it is sad that a combination of strict school rules and holiday firm mark ups means that for many children a family holiday is a memory they will never have.

Family holidays are bonding experiences, travel is educational, a break from the usual routine is such a treat. The chance to visit different areas of your own country, or whole new countries, is important for children’s understanding of the world, and brings history, culture and language alive like nothing else. The combination of the change to school holiday rules and excessive price increases during school holiday periods is resulting in many children missing out.

The inability to afford a one week holiday is often quoted as one of the criteria used to define childhood poverty. (I am not entirely sure I agree, I don’t feel it is quite up there with fuel poverty or lack of food, but still…..) Yet it is recent government policy changes that have ensured that many more families are in that position. Either they need to bring back flexibility for parents wanting to take their children out of school for a few days (let’s not forget it was always at the head teachers discretion, so requests that clash with important points of the school year etc could always be declined) or look at bringing in measures to tackle the current pricing situation – whether that is by staggering holidays or bringing in rules to prevent excessive pricing in school holiday periods or both.

What do you think?

Love Miss Cisco XXX

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11 Comments

  1. July 4, 2014 / 9:24 am

    I’m lucky to not have the bother of this as both daughters are now at uni. Always used to make me cross that holidays cost so much more in school holidays compared to term time though. maybe you’ll be able to pick up a last minute holiday if there’s more supply than demand as a result of the cost?
    Izzie Anderton recently posted…Moving OutMy Profile

  2. July 4, 2014 / 8:06 pm

    We are yet again not going abroad this year…and we’re also not going anywhere in the UK for exactly the price reasons you mention. For the cost of a lot of lodge/caravan holidays in Britain, we could go abroad…and the reason we aren’t going abroad is we can’t afford that. If we could I’d much rather take the kids to a small costal French village than a cheesy holiday park in the UK.

    The only affordable way to holiday in the UK is camping with your own kit, you can get an electric hook up pitch for less than £20 a night, but my youngest is still too young for camping. Staycation it is!
    @SarahAnneDG recently posted…The end of primary schoolMy Profile

  3. Ingrid
    July 4, 2014 / 8:10 pm

    Many Head Teachers too feel disgruntled about these new measures, which can adversely affect relationships with parents. It also suggests that the majority of Head Teachers and parents aren’t capable of making sensible decisions based on personal circumstances. I’m afraid it’s Mr Gove’s quick fix to improve attendance, but it tars everyone with the same brush as those families here school attendance is abysmal. Parents are between a rock and a hard place: forced to use school holidays and forced to pay ridiculous prices. It’s daylight robbery to be frank!

    • July 4, 2014 / 8:22 pm

      Absolutely, I think it is unfortunate when parents get cross with teachers about the changes, when they have no option but to go along with Goves rules, as you say, it is assuming that all parents make bad decisions, whereas most of us carefully planned holidays for times of least impact and took as few days as possible, and our children had overall excellent attendance.

  4. July 5, 2014 / 7:08 am

    It infuriates me not being able to take the kids out of school for a holiday. There were parents that requested too much holiday and I do believe that Head Teachers did a fab job of saying no – we had a fab holiday in Disney two years ago that we took the kids out of school for……now Kian is doing GCSE’s we wouldn’t take him out anyway but it is frustrating.
    In regards to the holiday companies, it is simply supply and demand. Many of them run at a loss for the remainder of the year just to keep themselves open and their staff employed. It is not just the UK that is demanding holiday over the summer – it is the rest of Europe too, let’s not forget that!
    I think the government really need to think about the 6 weeks summer holiday now, afterall, we don’t need the kids to help out on the farms these days, which was why the six weeks holidays were introduced during the war. If the holidays were staggered over the year and varied in different counties then it would definitely help, plus childcare costs would also be more evenly spread giving working families a little bit more to spend in the holidays?
    Kara recently posted…Saturday is Caption Day – 5th July 2014My Profile

  5. July 5, 2014 / 7:15 am

    It is wrong that families aren’t able to afford holidays even in Britain because, as you say, there are so many benefits to a child of going on holiday. I would like to see the holiday companies bring the prices down. I used to take my son out of school for a holiday when he was in the infants, but our HT banned holidays in term time a few years before they became illegal. I always said I wouldn’t take the kids out of school once they got to secondary school anyway and I think a lot of parents would agree with that. So why can’t the holiday prices just be brought down?
    Another possibility would be staggering school holidays around the country, but I fear if there was a 10 or 12 week window instead of a 6 or 7 week one, the holiday companies would raise their prices for a full 10 or 12 weeks.
    I feel sorry for teachers too, because they’re punished with the holiday prices even if they don’t have kids to work round.
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…The Whisper of Stars by Nick JonesMy Profile

  6. Sue Cole
    July 5, 2014 / 9:30 am

    Take a look at AirBnB, they are people letting out their own homes and we’re having 4 nights in Holland for only £240 in August. Near the beach and only 45 minutes from Amsterdam, can’t afford anything more.

  7. July 5, 2014 / 1:21 pm

    I think the prices they charge are disgusting and something really does need to change – either schools allow one week per year or companies have a cap on the prices they charge. I know it’s not luxury but have you thought about camping? It’s great to just get into the great outdoors for a few days and when you come home, you appreciate your mod cons all the more! Perhaps worth thinking about…
    suzanne3childrenandit recently posted…6 Months On – Still Going Strong?My Profile

  8. July 5, 2014 / 3:38 pm

    Oh I am so with you on this. Because hubby is a teacher we are stuck to school holidays and we really struggle to fund the money for a holiday. It really gets me down and I can’t justify spending a grand on a holiday at the moment, especially in this country. The boys are desperate to go on a plane so we are saving for a nice holiday next year but I dread to think how much it will cost. We did buy a tent last year so we are planning a few short camping trips which will be fun but I would much prefer a nice hotel somewhere.
    Nikki Thomas recently posted…Blowing BubblesMy Profile

  9. July 9, 2014 / 12:49 pm

    I was thinking about this all today because a friend of mine said that she was going to take her son out of school earlier than the end of term, but as she knew the school wouldn’t give permission, she was going to lie and say he was ill! And I thought to myself that this situation is ridiculous. They are setting parents against schools and making parents lie. This can’t be right. There must be a way – and there must be a way for parents to get away with their kids IN THE UK godammit for a reasonable amount of money…
    Really hope you manage to sort something.

    • July 9, 2014 / 3:55 pm

      And not only does it make parents lie, it teaches our kids that it is acceptable to lie too- which is my main reason for avoiding it – dont want them having to go in feigning coughs!

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