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Fresh calls for ski holidays during term-time
Sunday May 25, 2014 - Email this article to a friend

Recent legislation has prevented parents taking children out of school for a holiday. Now a group is reportedly taking the government to the European Court of Human Rights.

There was a sharp reduction in the number of families taking a snowsports holiday during term-time last winter.

Some parents decided to do it anyway and accept a fine - others didn't, according to family ski operators we have been canvassing.

"The new law that see fines and Headteachers refusing leave for holidays has had an undoubted affect," one leading family ski operator said to PlanetSKI.

"Parents are put off by the prospect of a fine and a black mark being placed against their child so they have opted to go in official holidays and pay more or forsake a ski holiday altogether."

Now a families' group is planning to go to court according to a report in The Sunday Times last weekend.

Any such legal challenge would be hugely expensive and it may just be a wish and a hope, rather than reality.

According to The Sunday Times the group, Parents Want A Say, says the recent law is a breach of the human right to a family life.

Almost 210,000 people have signed a petition against the recent legislation.

It came into force ahead of the 2013/14 ski season and we reported on it here on PlanetSKI with links to the legislation and the wording itself.

Parents can be fined up to £60 per child, per parent and it rises to £120 if not paid within a week. If parents refuse further then they can be fined up to £2,500 with three years in prison.

Headteachers used to be able to grant 10-days at their discretion.

Now heads can only grant time off school in "exceptional circumstances" and a family holiday, skiing or otherwise, is not defined as exceptional.

Parents Want A Say argues that it is not about parents wanting a cheap holiday, but rather providing a holiday experience that a family might not otherwise able to take.

"All children who have a good attendance record should be allowed the opportunity to enjoy quality time with their parents on an annual holiday of up to 10 days once per year," said Parents Want A Say.

"Good parents, or parents that work full-time, should not be criminalised for wanting to enjoy an affordable annual family holiday," it added.

Snowsports holidays are far more expensive compared to other holidays and it has undoubtedly stopped some children discovering and enjoying snowsports on a family holiday.

With the February half-term the same across much of Europe next year there are higher prices as demand will outstrip supply.

It will mean high prices and this will put a half-term holiday out of the reach of manyskiing families in 2015.

Already the airline easyJet is charging almost £1,000 for a return flight from Gatwick to Innsbruck next February as we reported in this earlier story on PlanetSKI.

We have also looked at the whole issue of staggered school holidays in this article, but there is no real political pressure or head of steam building up that we detect.

One chalet operator, Mountain Base last year offered to pay the fine for parents and it was reported well beyond the snowsports media; see the PlanetSKI story here.

The case that may be brought against the the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, and the Government centres on the interpretation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The group argues the recent legislation interferes with family life.

Whether it ever gets to the European Court is one matter.

What we do know is that it is reducing the number of families enjoying a ski holiday at times outside official school holidays and this may have a long-term impact on the future number of skiers and snowboarders.

If you have a view and wish to share it then please see the PlanetSKI Facebook page where some readers have commented; one ski instructor says he sees more parents simply paying the fine.

Here are just some of the comments:

"Interesting point, I seeing more and more just paying the fine as half term to expensive and double standards as some school ski trips go out of term time." - Peter Baker.

"We have always gone during term time and took my daughter now 8 out of school. I don't agree with this change as a week skiing in France is very educational. We priced up going at Xmas (new year was full) and was 2k cheaper! Plus couldn't have gone in school holidays as daddy was working. We were not granted permission and still waiting to see if get a fine looking unlikely as it was March we went. This ruling is so wrong o so many levels." - Julie Adams.

"Why is it ok for schools to have ski trips during term time but not parents? We encountered two separate school trips in mid March. Did the schools fine themselves?" - George Buchanan.

Family fun in the snowFamily fun in the snow













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