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I took my kids out of school for a family break – but are term-time holidays acceptable? Readers weigh in

Does taking family holidays during school term-time make me a bad parent? I put it to readers, and got quite the response.
Calum Petrie
We travelled to Stockholm to see family - while the kids should have been in school. Image: Sabina Nowotny/Darrell Benns/DC Thomson/Shutterstock
We travelled to Stockholm to see family - while the kids should have been in school. Image: Sabina Nowotny/Darrell Benns/DC Thomson/Shutterstock

Summer holidays in September, Easter holidays in May, Christmas breaks in November.

Such is the schedule for families who take their kids out of school during term-time to go on holiday.

I’m one of them. More than once we’ve taken our ‘summer’ break in September. Flight prices nosedive, as do the crowds.

Do I feel guilty? I’ve ransacked myself and I have to say: No.

I’ve also asked myself whether I’m harming my kids’ education, and can truthfully only answer again: No.

Perhaps Covid, or simply the state of the world today, has brought it home what’s truly important in life.

And that’s family time. That, and showing my kids that there’s a wider world out there.

But that’s only a personal opinion. Perhaps I’m swimming against the tide.

To remove kids from school, or not to remove kids from school. That is the question I put to readers, who responded in their droves on Facebook.

It’s exceedingly rare that I put things to readers and receive such a unanimous response….

Term-time holidays – Our readers weigh in

Here, in a nutshell, is your consensus from the 146 comments we received:

  • Yes to term-time holidays
  • Travelling during school holidays is prohibitively expensive and not always possible because of work schedules
  • Travelling is a learning experience which is as important as school
  • Family time is the most important time of all

Some also had a cheeky dig at teachers striking, and kids being kept at home for months on end during the pandemic.

For many, though, the soaring cost of holidays dictates when they jet off for a fortnight in the sun.

I looked at the cost of a two-week holiday for a family of four in Tenerife at several points throughout 2025.

The Spanish island’s climate makes it attractive year-round so weather shouldn’t influence the price as it might for some other places.

The holiday would cost £5,371 in August, almost double its May price tag of £2,851.

Prices also peaked in the April and October holidays.

Here’s what the parents who responded to our question on term-time holidays had to say on whether or not it’s justified…

‘It’s no wonder families travel when they can get a cheaper deal’

Reader Ritu Awasthi lives in Aberdeen, but is originally from India. Her family visit the country each year to visit relatives.

The Awasthi family from Aberdeen visit India every year. Image: Ritu Awasthi

“The tickets are so expensive during the school holidays,” she said. “And we can’t go to India during the summer holidays as it’s too hot and humid.

“But we never hide the fact from school that we are going on a holiday.

“Given the soaring travel costs during term breaks, it’s no wonder that families are opting to travel whenever they are able to get a cheaper deal.

“Honestly, I am thankful to the Scottish education system that there is no fine if the child misses school due to travelling.

“After all, travelling gives the children exposure to learning things which cannot be taught in school.”

Trips to South Africa would be worth a fine

Nadia Geddes said: “I take my boy out of school for a month every year to visit South Africa.

“He learns about the culture, and he gets to spend valuable time with family. It’s the only time in the year he gets to see his grandparents.

“Even if they were to fine parents in Scotland, I would pay it. They’re memories that will never leave him.”

‘Seeing the world is as valuable as book learning’

Sally Crowe is a crofter and single mum from Keiss, Caithness.

“Yes, I will be taking my son away during term time,” she said. “It has to fit around when I am not flat-out.

“I want my son to see the world and see different cultures, experience different things.

“That’s as valuable as book learning.”

Becca Menzies said: “Family holidays, family time and making memories are as important to a child’s development as going to school.

“They are still learning while on holiday – to become better swimmers, picking up foreign language skills, learning new cultural information. Travel is one of the biggest learning experiences you can have.

“Providing attendance is good for the rest of the year, I don’t see a problem.”

Saving over £2,000: The ‘no-brainer’ of term-time holidays

Leanne Keys is currently in Turkey with her family.

“If the school holidays were as cheap as term-time we’d have waited, but it’s just not financially viable,” she said.

Laura Western is also away with her daughter at the moment.

“I saved over £2,000!” she said.

“If teachers can strike then why should I be dictated to about when I take my child on holiday?”

And Lora Robertson said: “School holidays are busy for us with our work, and also stupidly expensive.

“I looked at flights – the last week of June was £60, the first week of July £700. It’s a no-brainer, really.

“Missing a few days of school isn’t going to harm them. Look how much time they had off with lockdowns.”

Leona Thomson takes her kids out of school every year to go on holiday. Last year, she said she saved £1,000.

Jetting off to the sun is usually more expensive in the school holidays. Image: Shutterstock

She added: “They get several in-service days which we don’t choose. We were told to homeschool our kids during a pandemic. If I want to take my children away then it’s my kids, my choice.

“I always inform the school. And if work was given to them, they would do it on the plane.”

Work schedules and ASN children: Scheduling holidays not a simple task for many families

Emma Byrne said: “It’s not always the cost. Offshore work rotas don’t always fit in with the school holidays, and family time is important.”

Laura Taylor said: “I try my best to holiday during the school holidays, but my husband works abroad so occasionally we have no choice but to do it outside school holidays.

“I have always asked for school work to take with us but never been given it.”

Pamela McKessick has a son with additional support needs. She took her kids on holiday the week before the October holidays last year.

“My son hates busy places, crowds, noise, so we were able to avoid that, as well as save a lot of money.”

What do the councils say?

Schools will record family holidays as an unauthorised absence, except in ‘exceptional circumstances’. Image: Shutterstock

Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Highland councils said children absent from school to attend a family holiday will be recorded as an unauthorised absence.

However, a school may authorise a family holiday in “exceptional circumstances”, for example following serious illness, bereavement or other traumatic event.

A Moray Council spokeswoman said: “The absence would be recorded as a family holiday, which is normally unauthorised.

“There is discretion by the head teacher to authorise the holiday if the circumstances merit it, for example, an MOD family where the parent is deployed during the school holiday period or a family wedding.”

Scottish parents won’t be fined for term-time holidays – but could face legal action

Unlike in England, parents in Scotland won’t be fined for taking term-time holidays.

Scottish education authorities can take legal action – such as seeking an attendance order – in cases of persistent poor attendance but it’s rare for them to do so.

Schools do, however, advise strongly against term time holidays, and in most cases record absences as unauthorised.

Poor attendance, they stress, impacts on a child’s attainment.

Indeed Education Scotland cites evidence that a child’s attainment and achievement is affected by attendance below 90%.

That’s missing 19 days of school in one year – so just five days on top of a fortnight in the sun.

My own view? Family memories trump ‘unauthorised absences’

My own view is it isn’t anyone else’s business when I take my family on holiday.

Like many these days, we’re an international family, and our holidays tend to be used to keep the kids in touch with family members living abroad.

We took the kids to Sweden to see family, having made do with FaceTime during the pandemic. Image: Sabina Nowotny

What will the kids remember when they’re older? The family memories created on holiday, or the ‘unauthorised absences’?

While I can understand absences can cause disruption for teachers, it’s not like kids haven’t already had that the last few years, right?