One in five parents have lied to their children’s school to avoid fines for taking them out of school in term time for a cheaper holiday, a new study reveals.
More than half of UK parents said they were prepared to lie in the coming months, according to the poll by Travelzoo.
Two thirds of parents are also willing to ask their children to pretend to their teacher that the reason for absence was not a family holiday.
Just 13% of the 2,000 parents asked believe families should not go on holiday if they cannot afford it during school holiday dates.
However, more than a quarter of parents are considering taking children out before the final day of the summer term in order to access cheaper holidays.
A typical week away for a family of four at a popular European destination increases by an average of £800 the week before most UK state schools break up between July 15 and 22, Travelzoo found.
Meanwhile, over 60% of 500 teachers polled by the travel deals company admitted pupils will mostly be playing games and half said they will be watching films and cartoons on the last few days of summer term in both primary and secondary state schools.
When asked if missing the last two days of school would have a severe impact on their education, eight out of ten teachers said it would not.
Of the parents polled, 31% believe their children do very little at the end of term and therefore leaving early would have minimal impact on their education.
Three quarters of the teachers questioned said they had experienced parents lying to them since penalties came into force for taking children out of school during term time; and almost half felt that fines were affecting their relationship with pupils' families.
More than half of the teachers polled said they thought head teachers - rather than local councilors - should be given back the power to grant discretionary absences.
Travelzoo spokeswoman Louise Hodges, commenting on the ‘Parent Trap’ study, said: “Clearly a good education is the top priority for parents and teachers alike. However, when you consider that even UK teachers admit the last couple of days of summer term are not critical to a child’s education, it is easy to see why some parents are taking the decision to leave a few days earlier and access cheaper holidays.
“Few parents believe that losing several hundred pounds so that their child can watch a DVD in class makes financial sense.
“With more than half of UK parents prepared to lie in order to avoid the fines and over 64,000 fines issued from September 2013-2014, it’s clear that the current system isn’t working.”
She added: “The fining system is messy, confusing and makes law-abiding families feel like criminals.
“The government scrapped airport tax for under-12s this year – but that felt like an election sweetener, and clearly more needs to be done if parents are still lying to schools.
“We don’t endorse unauthorised absences, but we urge the government to reconsider the black-and-white nature of the fines, scrap APD for all passengers during school holiday dates and to join us as we sit down with travel companies, parents and education groups over the next few months to explore solutions to a problem which is clearly not fixed.”
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