TV personality Julia Bradbury has waded into the debate over taking children out of school for holidays in term-time.
The former Countryfile presenter described the travel industry as “evil” for cynically inflating prices during school holidays and urged parents to ignore the law and take their children away in term-time.
Bradbury, who has a five-year-old son and one-year-old twins, said children needed to spend more time outside and if that meant missing school then it was a price worth paying.
Currently parents can be fined if they take their youngsters on holiday during school time although the law has been challenged in the courts.
Bradbury, who is president of The Camping and Caravanning Club and a roving ambassador for Ramblers Worldwide Holidays, said the prohibitive cost of travel during the school holidays meant many children were being robbed of valuable experiences and adventures.
She told the Mail on Sunday: “Children spend less time outside every day as part of the school curriculum than prisoners do, which is a frightening thought.”
Bradbury, who left Countryfile in 2014 and now works for ITV, said: “I think if you the parent have the chance to do something or go somewhere then you should have the right to home-school them, take them on an adventure, which will be educational and eye-opening.
“We as parents are penalised for taking our children away during holiday periods because travel companies jack up prices so ludicrously.
“It is completely unfair. It’s a child tax – it’s cynical and the [travel] industry needs to stop being so evil.”
Bradbury said she would even support those families who wanted to take their children on a ‘bucket and spade’ holiday in term-time.
She said: “If there is a family that cannot afford to go away because prices are four times what they would be in term-time, then if I was in their position I would go to my headmaster or headmistress and say ‘I don’t have any other choice, so give me their homework’.”
She added that she is not advocating mass truancy, and conceded it could cause havoc with school timetabling – but that not all learning happens in the classroom.
The Supreme Court is due to rule on the case of father Jon Platt from the ISle of Wight, who refused to pay a fine after taking his daughter out of school for a once in a lifetime trip to Walt Disney World in Florida in 2015.
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