Tourism fears over term-time holidays ban
Westcountry tourism leaders have urged the Government for more joined up thinking after it emerged that legal changes mean that parents can no longer take their children out of school for holidays.
Amendments to the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 2006 mean that there is no longer provision for 10 days of allowable holiday leave, meaning that children can only be taken out of schools in exceptional circumstances which do not include holidays.
But Westcountry tourism leaders say that this will impact on their efforts to promote tourism in the region during the off peak months as well as making holidays during the school holidays more expensive.
Chris Murray, owner of Pennywell Farm, near Buckfastleigh, and chairman of management and marketing for the Devon Association of Tourist Attractions, said: “Traditionally, in the quieter months many of our visitors have been families with a mix of pre-schoolers and a sibling in year one or two. We are already noticing that these families are no longer around.”
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The amendments came into force on September 1 and Mr Murray said that the changes had not been well publicised.
Malcolm Bell, head of Visit Cornwall, called for school holidays to be staggered over a nine week period, as they are in Europe, saying that this would also help with congestion on the region’s roads during the peak summer months.
He said: “It is an issue. We have got to be careful that it is not tourism versus education. The issue is that constraining school holidays more you will drive up costs – it’s supply and demand.
“There needs to be a constructive and pragmatic discussion on how you get a triple win where tourism is not affected, congestion is improved and people can have affordable holidays without compromising on education.
“We do need more joined up thinking and more government liaison. Sometime you can achieve the same goals by having less silo thinking.”
An e-petition on the issue has already attracted more than 48,900 signatures but the Department for Education has said that it will not be reversing the amendments.
“It is a government priority that children of compulsory school age and who are registered at school attend school regularly. School absence should be reduced to a minimum. This is because there is clear evidence that any absence from school can and does impact on children’s education attainment,” its response said.
“The previous law on leave of absence allowed schools to authorise up to ten days leave for the purpose of family holiday in special circumstances if a parent applied in advance. This was interpreted by some schools and parents to mean that parents had an entitlement to take their children on an annual two week family holiday during term time. This was a misconception; the law was not intended to create any perception of an entitlement. The Government has now changed the law to remove any ambiguity.”