This is a very topical conversation at the moment and of course in the news for all the political arguments going on about whether or not a child should be allowed to miss a vital week or 2 at school. Each persons view differs based on the reasoning of the trip. There are of course a number of items that need to be thought about when this decision is being made and I believe this decision is that of the parent and the school together and not that of the government with the ultimate decision being that of the parent. If the school disagrees then they can look at measure to punish the parents if they choose but really it should be to aid the child.
The cost of holidays will always be higher in the summer holidays as this is basic supply and demand, the government cannot make changes to make the travel industry to change, the basic principle of travel as most people want to travel at the same time, when they have annual leave and kids are off school is the best time to go. Summer costs more than winter on in term time as fewer people want to go at that time, but the holiday companies still need to pay for the airline all year and the hotels have to pay all year and so the costs are spread to be cheaper when no one wants to go, and more expensive when they do, as they need to spread the cost. To think they will make it cheaper in the summer and more expensive in the winter is un-realistic in my view as that just means companies will go bust, jobs will be lost, there will be less holidays available and so availability will decrease and prices will just go up again!
To align this with something else in life, why are train tickets so much more at peak times??? For the exact same reason!!!! and in the same way the peak fares help to justify the lower off-peak fares to cover the prices over the period of a year.
I think better options to look at might be something like staggered terms within geographic areas to ensure matching primary and secondary schools share dates. The option to have 2 weeks off should go back to the school and should be more flexible, it being not allowed should be based on child and the situation and used for what I imagine it was first added for in the first place, which was to stop children that need more help and those that are missing school, also to stop families with poor attendance.
Another option would be to extend the term by 2 weeks and allow 2 weeks out of the summer term if they do the extra 2 weeks to make up for it. This is something more in the governments control with discussions with teachers about change in time off over the year rather than changing the travel industry economy. There are lots more views and options but the clear punishment of payment terms will not work, and I suspect this will become more of a political topic as elections loom.
As it stands though taking a financial punishment is still cheaper for a Florida holiday than going in summer holidays. Whilst to say the benefit of non summer holiday prices is not attractive would be a fib, the big win for us though is that travelling outside of the summer holiday means you can do so much more in a day then you can otherwise, as the difference in Queue length is enormous.
Our decision was to take our children out of school as they are both in primary school and whilst every year is vital they were both in years where we felt there is more benefit in experiences offered on a Florida holiday than 2 weeks in school. There are of course some things they will have missed on those 2 weeks on holiday but they will be covered again at school and we as parents also will commit to aiding them to learn with sitting with them in the evenings and doing the work with them.
On the holiday, they experienced things that they both had as their “topics” at school such as the flying high on a plane, hot with being in Florida and difference in temperature around the world as well as being able to visit penguins in the cold location of the new Penguin attraction at Seaworld. They both also went to Discovery Cove and swam with Dolphins, exotic fish, sting rays as well as going into the Aviary and hand feed birds. The life experiences themselves I think explain the benefits of a break such as this.
For us, time out of school is justified for a trip to Florida if normal school life is considered normal with no time missed in school and children learning in line with their peers. We shall see what happens over coming months and years on this one, as I don’t think this conversation has finished!