UK & World News
Govt 'Out Of Touch' On Term-Time Holiday Ban
New rules banning holidays during school term time are penalising families who have no choice but to take their children out of school, some parents have told Sky News.
Maxine Ingrouille-Kidd, whose son Curtis is severely disabled, said she was threatened with a fine when she asked for permission to take her son on a cruise during term time because it was the only time accessible cabins were available.
"A cruise is a good sensory experience for Curtis ... and it is important for us to have family time together," she said.
"We did try to go at half term and they didn't have an accessible cabin.
"We're really limited by what Curtis needs.
"We didn't think (the school) would refuse us because he has a life-limiting condition and we thought they would appreciate that it was important for Curtis to be with us.
"Despite having up to 40 seizures a day, he's actually quite healthy and has had very few absences."
Curtis, who is quadriplegic, epileptic, blind and has cerebral palsy, was refused permission by his school in Somerset under new rules which came into force last September.
Under the rules, headteachers can only grant permission for term time leave in "exceptional circumstances" - a discretion some parents claim is not being used properly.
Stewart Sutherland, who says he has been unable to take a family holiday for five years because of his job, was prosecuted and fined £996 after he pleaded guilty to taking his three children to Greece on a holiday booked prior to the new rules being introduced.
"The Government is out of touch with society when it introduced these rules," said Mr Sutherland.
"The country does not come to a standstill when the kids are on holiday - there's always someone who is still working."
"Family time is sometimes just as important as schooling," he added.
The Government said the new rules are fair and have reduced the number of pupils regularly missing school by 130,000.
"We have been clear that all headteachers are free to grant pupils leave in exceptional circumstances," a spokesman for the Department for Education said.
"It is up to headteachers to decide whether to grant time off and how much time to grant.
"We are also giving schools the flexibility to set their own term times so they can change dates to ones that work for their pupils and families.
"Parents can urge schools to make use of this new freedom."