The science behind taking children on a term-time holiday

The science behind taking children on term-time holidays [Photo: Getty]
The science behind taking children on term-time holidays [Photo: Getty]

To holiday in the school holidays or not to holiday in the school holidays that is the question?

And it is a pretty contentious one.

The summer holidays are almost upon us, but with costs of taking a trip in the allocated six weeks currently reaching an average of £5K many parents are instead opting to holiday in term-time.

New research has revealed that almost half of parents have taken children out of school for holiday, with many saying it is too expensive to go away during the summer break.

According to a survey by Co-op Insurance and Atomik Research, more than one in four (27 per cent) of mums and dads admitted to taking their youngster out of lessons for a trip on more than one occasion, while a further one in five (19 per cent) say they have done so once.

The findings also suggest that some parents are taking their child out of school for a week or more.

Of those that have taken their son or daughter away during term time, a quarter said that their child had missed a week of lessons, while 8 per cent said they had missed up to two weeks.

This is despite the fact that parents can now 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.

Ministers have argued that no child should be taken out of school without good reason, and that missing just one day can affect a pupil’s chances of getting good results at school.

The Department of Education’s Nick Gibb recently claimed that taking children out of school for a getaway “harms” their results.

After publishing key stage 2 and KS4 data, Nick Gibb said it was “further evidence that missing school for even a day can mean a child is less likely to achieve good grades, which can have a damaging effect on their life chances.”

However, contradictory research by the Times Educational Supplement has shown there is little impact on a child’s education, with them even going as far suggesting not taking enough holiday could actually affect performance adversely instead.

The study, which was carried out by physicist Beccy Smith, looked at records from 2009 to 2014.

The figure showed that 78.7 per cent of pupils who took no authorised term-time holiday were at the level they should be by the end of primary school.

However, the number was 82.2 per cent for families who took between one to twenty days holiday during term time.

One headteacher is so convinced about the pros of term-time holidays, he has introduced an extra “enrichment” week, enabling parents to take their children away during the school term.

Under the new initiative, parents of pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 at Woodlands School in Essex, will be able to treat their children to “worthwhile” but “affordable” experiences.

In a letter to parents, headmaster Simon Cox said that 15-19 July, 2019 will be set aside as an “enrichment” week so that parents can take their children on a moral, social or cultural trip.

Mr Cox explained that trips abroad were permitted during the enrichment week, as long as pupils can demonstrate they have learned something from the experience.

“If, for example, a family went to Greece, we’d need to see that they have mastered some basic communication, for geography we’d need to see key information around GDP and population, for history, the type of place and how the past has impacted, English would be about literature and maths will centre around currency,” he told the BBC.

While it is difficult to know how taking children out of school really impacts their education, there are some perceived benefits to taking a term-time break.

A chance to reset

There’s little doubt grown-ups use holidays as a chance to unwind and de-stress and the same could be true of children. “There is well documented evidence that short vacations are beneficial to our tolerance of pain, quality of sleep, mood and perception of stress,” explains Dr Tamara Bugembe, paediatrician and founder of

“Children are individuals and will have different experiences within school or at home that may mean that some children will need a holiday to refuel their general wellbeing at a point that falls during the school term.”

“Recognising this individual need and responding to it is extremely important, especially at a time when we are encouraging people to take better care of their mental health.”

There are some benefits to taking children on holiday during term-time [Photo: Getty]
There are some benefits to taking children on holiday during term-time [Photo: Getty]

Good for brain development

Going on holiday during a the quieter term-time could also benefit children. “Holidays during the term time are also beneficial for children with neurodevelopmental difficulties like autism,” explains Dr Bugembe.

“These quieter periods make it possible for them to access facilities and experiences that may be too crowded and overwhelming during peak seasons.”

More rounded experience

At peak holiday time children are likely to be mixing with other children of school age and not many others, but the same isn’t true of taking a holiday during term time. “Taking term-time holidays to share experiences with family members creates an environment where children have to mix with adults and other children who are not of their own age and may not share the same interests,” explains Dr Bugembe.

“This develops their conversational skills and emotional intelligence as they have to adapt and learn about the perspectives of others.”

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for non-stop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day. For Twitter updates, follow @YahooStyleUK.

Read more from Yahoo Style UK:

Should Kim Kardashian be straightening five-year-old North’s hair?

Blue Ivy is all of us when watching our parents get frisky

Mum isn’t happy after her baby is banned from the wedding she spent £4K to attend