Mark Warner

Is Travel Education?

I am forever getting into debates on twitter about the blanket ban about taking the kids out of school in term time.

You probably already know about the rule changes, imposed by the Department of Education, made on parents taking children on holiday during school term time. The maximum fine for a child’s absence is £60 per pupil, per parent, per day.

The backlash from angry parents is inevitable – peak holiday prices for flights and accommodation often mean that travelling during term time is the only way they can afford to take their children abroad, and I do not intend to bash the holiday companies as I understand it is simple supply and demand with most of Europe on holiday at the same time and most of them making a loss out of season.

However, education editor at The Guardian says ‘Parents could accept that their child’s classroom education is far more important than a week in Europe, no matter how many museums they visit. That’s especially true for young children: the evidence is unanimous that early-years education is vital for future attainment.’

The team at think that pitting a week in a classroom against an opportunity to explore a new place and culture, spend quality time with family and break daily routine is a very tough comparison. Subjects you learn in the classroom can seem pretty abstract without context – travel is a fantastic way to bring studies to life and spark passion in a child.

Their campaign ‘Travel is Education’ aims to highlight the specific nature of how travel can enrich our children beyond the classroom.

What do I think?

Personally I think you should be allowed to take your kids out of school for a maximum of two weeks a year, in a chunk – not bits here and there as that probably impacts education more.  We are lucky in this day and age that we are able to travel farther afield than our parents / grandparents did, but back then a working week was Monday – Friday with weekends off and quality family time.  Nowadays with modern demands, many parents work shifts and weekends to make ends meet.  For many years hubby and I were like passing ships in the night, juggling the kids and work, rarely getting to see each other never mind quality family time.

Middle Beach

Holiday’s can be educational in many ways – even a sunshine holiday by the pool can give a child confidence to meet and befriend other children, learn to swim, dive, sail, perhaps even learn some of the local language or do something out of their normal comfort zone.  I know that Isaac hates the classroom but get him in an outdoor environment or a museum that his thirst for knowledge knows no bounds and he asks question after question.

Dick and Dom

My dad emigrated to Cyprus a few years ago and we could never afford to visit him during peak times because flights alone were extortionate, especially with children over the age of 12 who were charged an adult fair.

We took the kids out of school in April 2013 for a trip to Disneyland Paris after a stressful time which saw my husband made redundant.  They were only out of school for a few days, but we all got to relax and the smiles on their faces were enough to know we had made the right decision and they caught up on school work within a week.

Disneyland Paris
Breakfast with Mickey

I would never take a child out of school in their GCSE years, although that being said my teenage son has activities week coming up where they do not do school work so that would be a possibility.

I took a poll of some of my fellow parent bloggers and here is what they think:

Emma from

Term time holidays are not only a lower cost break from the norm to enjoy time as a family, children (and adults) can benefit a lot from travel in terms of education which they may not be able to afford otherwise. You can have a go at new languages, learn about other cultures, try different cuisines, discover new animals and terrain. Hands on experiences like this can be just as good, if not better at times, than what is learnt sat at a desk in school.

Nichola from

You can beat the crowds which means that you can really enjoy the sights without huge numbers of fellow travellers who will be there during official holidays. When you’re with children queues can very quickly cause unhappy kids so I love the quiet times of non-term time travelling!

Liska from

Less traffic less queues more space in the water world there and less boisterous older ones. A holiday probably predominantly with pre schoolers which suits me just fine.

Mellissa from

Some people only get set holidays or only a set number of staff are allowed off at any time. This often happens with shift workers and staff that cover 24 hours. If everyone wants time off in the school summer holidays it could mean missing out on a family holiday if you don’t book outside of this time. 

Becky from

We intend to take our son out next year, the area I feel he needs encouragement is physical confidence and so I see a week of outdoor activities (we are taking him skiing) will be better for him than being in a classroom. I wouldn’t dream of taking him out at an important time but during those weeks he won’t really miss much I think he will get more

Lucy from

Less crowds and queues would be a major plus point for me, as would the lower cost. We haven’t been on holiday since 2010, because we just can’t afford the inflated school holiday prices!

Erica from

I think children are at school too much of the year anyway. Most parents have experienced that end of term tiredness or the last week of term bug (because the child is run down). Taking a holiday in term time can give them a welcome extra break. 

Mary from

For us it’s being able to get a flight that doesn’t cost a fortune to visit family. Easier to get a flight at last minute, tourist places we might want to visit won’t be packed, which makes things easier with a nervous child. Less queuing. In the UK – one example – parking at a beach in Cornwall was £3 cheaper at the beginning of last week (when a lot of schools hadn’t broken up) went up to £4 on Thursday! I know of places that have ‘holiday’ priced menus too, so can be cheaper to eat during term time.

Gretta from

Affordability. There are many families who simply cannot afford to take a holiday during the school holidays because of the inflated prices during those periods. 

Emma from

I home school now but back in the day when all 4 of mine were at school we took our holidays during term time every year, mainly because we wouldn’t have been able to afford a holiday if we didn’t. I also love how much quieter places are out of term. I hate crowds & queues especially with 4 kids so even if I could have afforded a holiday during holiday dates I still would have gone out of term. 

Looking back at my own childhood, I was very lucky to be well travelled with visits to the Greek Islands, Canada, USA, Sri Lanka, Austria, France, Spain etc etc.  I remember each holiday, experiencing the different cultures, exploring caves and natural wonders, riding elephants, becoming a Junior Park Ranger in California and even learning some foreign languages……..much better than school!

On a personal level, I would also really like to see the school holidays in the UK changed as the roots of the long summer holiday go back to the UK’s agricultural heritage, to a time when children had to help pick fruit and farm the land – not something they do these days. A shorter summer break with longer half terms to compensate would help ease the crazy prices in the school holidays as breaks would be more evenly spread.

So what do you think – are you a teacher that despairs when children are taken out of school for holidays, or a frustrated parent desperately in need of some family time?

This is a collaborative post with


Budget busting activities for children

Coming up with imaginative ways to keep the children entertained can seem an uphill struggle.

You’d think it would be easy. Access any local listings site and you’ll be bombarded with loads of interesting activities that your children will just love.

But everything comes at a cost. Exciting days out to theme parks, adventure breaks at outward bound centres, and even a family excursion to the cinema all come with a hefty price tag.

You don’t have to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer to understand the importance of a budget and, let’s be honest, most of us can’t make it stretch beyond the occasional family treat.

But that’s no reason for the kids to be bored. There’s plenty to do right on your own doorstep and it’s absolutely (or nearly) free.

The fact is that you will have heard this all before – take the kids to the park/on a walk/to the library. Chances are you’ve been doing this parenting thing for a while and you’re familiar with all the tricks of the trade.

But sometimes we get a bit jaded. A bit stuck in a rut. Looking at our favourite freebie haunts through different eyes might just give them a new lease of life.

The first thing to remember is to keep your outings short. Planning a whole day at a museum is probably unrealistic if you have a toddler with a limited attention span. Anything lasting over an hour is a bonus.

Freshen up a walk in the woods by devising a treasure hunt. Before you go, get the children to make up a checklist of things they have to find like red berries or a squirrel and things they have to do like jump in a puddle or balance on a log.

Depending on the ages of your children, you can attach points to each challenge based on its difficulty.

Take a kite to the beach. Running along the shore, dragging a kite behind them, is one of the most joyful things a child can do. But the novelty wears off in about 15 glorious minutes.

That’s the time to make sand sculptures. No boring old castles for you. Help them build a car they can sit in. Or, even better, build several and pretend to have a race. Make a dinosaur, a giant crab or a life-size mermaid.

Catch a bus around town. Jumping aboard and holding tight is often a novelty for young children who are used to being strapped into car seats with a limited view. Paying the driver, choosing a window seat and watching the world go by can while away a merry afternoon.

If your children are young, introduce games like counting how many lorries or yellow cars they can spot. Try and guess where the other passengers are going or concoct your own fantastical destination.

Finally, be kind to yourself. Spending time with your children is wonderful, but it can be a drain to keep up with their eager minds and boundless energy.

You’re allowed five minutes of alone time to drink a cup of coffee – even if that means locking yourself in the loo!