02 Feb

Term time holidays debate

On Tuesday the debate about term-time holidays reached Britain’s Supreme Court. The Isle of Wight Council and the Department for Education challenged Jon Platt, a father from the Isle of Wight, for refusing to pay a fine for taking his daughter on holiday during term time. Both sides of the debate put forward passionate arguments on the correct interpretation of existing rules, and the judgment will be announced at a later date.

In 2013 the Government changed the guidelines about existing rules on unauthorised absences, which dramatically increased the number of fines issued to parents for taking their children out of school during term time. These changes have been deeply unpopular with many parents and have resulted in increased media coverage about price increases during school holidays. We have long advocated that school holidays should be staggered by region as a sensible way to even out the peaks and troughs in demand, and we have promoted this suggestion to MPs and the Department for Education ahead of this case. In addition, since 2013 ABTA has done hundreds of press interviews to move the focus of media coverage away from pricing, by explaining the market mechanism of supply and demand, and to offer tips for parents booking a summer holiday, such as advising them to book in advance and to be flexible whenever possible on departure dates and destinations. We have also highlighted that travel agents and tour operators do a lot to help families, such as helping them to find the best deals and offering free child places.

As we await judgment in this case, we will continue to put forward these messages and make the case for staggering holidays by region.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive