School becomes first in the UK to scrap holidays
A school has become the first in Britain to scrap holidays and term times.
Instead of being confined to going away during the half-term, summer, Easter and Christmas holidays, parents are able to take children out for six weeks whenever they want, without facing prosecution or fines.
Headmistress Jane Smalley set up Shrewsbury Prepatoria so that parents don’t have to worry about childcare during the summer holidays.
The school currently has 11 pupils aged between four and six in Reception and Year 1, while a Year 2 will be added next year.
Though the independent school’s fees are £6,540 a year, Smalley believes parents can save around half that money by avoiding inflated peak season flights and holidays, and extortionate childcare costs.
READ MORE: The science behind taking children on a term-time holiday
She believes pupils attending the school also benefit from a slower pace, more focus on play, and no homework.
Ms Smalley told the Daily Mail her move to scrap school holidays happened “by accident” when she applied to the Department for Education for guidance on how to open an independent school.
They told her that schools didn’t need specific term times as long as children have the minimum requirement of 190 days a year that constitutes full-time education.
Sarah Golden, 42, has a five-year-old son, Chase who currently attends the school and finds it much easier now she doesn’t have to juggle work deadlines and childcare when she’s working over the summer.
“The long summer holidays aren’t good for anyone,” she told the Daily Mail. “Chase is so much happier [at school], with his friends.”
Though parents are entitled to take six weeks off, Ms Smalley said the average time taken off by children is four weeks.
“Being open all year long, and seeing the impact on the children, I think — why isn’t this being offered to every family?
“It’s a no brainer. Why shouldn’t we have schools that meet the needs of families?” she added.
School holidays often prove tricky for parents who are faced with having to look after their children during the long summer break.
Recent research revealed that parents find the juggle of the holidays pretty stressful with two thirds (61%) admitting to wishing the summer holidays could be shorter.
Reasons for the holiday-dread include struggles with managing the work/child balance, boredom and being generally busy.
Half of parents said they find it hard to get time off over the summer holidays and 46% said sourcing childcare for this extended period of time is challenging.
As a result finances are strained as over a third (35%) admit to struggling to pay for childcare, and 39% find it hard to pay for family holidays as they are so expensive.
The financial stress can have some pretty serious consequences too, as research revealed earlier this year found some parents are skipping proper meals and surviving only on cereal during the school holidays to ensure their children are fed.
MPs found that childcare costs and the need to buy school uniform can further exacerbate the struggles parents face during the holidays.
READ MORE: Parents could be fined £1,000 per child for taking family on a term time holiday
Under current legislation parents can be fined for taking their children out of school during term time.
Schools are told to only give time off in “exceptional circumstances”, with parents facing a £60 fine for every unauthorised holiday during term time.
This rises to £120 if it is not paid within 21 days. Parents who fail to fork out can also be prosecuted.