Parents threaten to take ‘strike action’ in term-time holiday row


A group of parents is considering taking their children out of school on May 23 as a day of “strike action” against the ban on term-time holidays.

Since September heads have been able to give pupils time off during term-time only if the circumstances are exceptional, effectively removing their powers of discretion.

The group, which began on Facebook, said part of the reason for the strike was to support the rights of heads to decide based on individual cases.

Alan Bradbury, who set up the group, said: “The government wants us to create little slaves to the economy of the future. But the way to turn out good citizens isn’t to institutionalise them, but to open their minds and see the world around them.

“As parents we decide what is best for our children, not ministers. They start from the assumption that all we want is cheap all-inclusive holidays. But there are cultural, social and developmental advantages to families holidaying together, which can result in children honing their foreign language skills or discovering new interests.

“At a time when family life is coming under increasing pressure from this government’s policies, a holiday may also put a troubled family back on track.”

In a letter to Mr Bradbury’s MP, Norman Lamb, who had raised the matter with the Department for Education, schools minister Elizabeth Truss said there was a correlation between absenteeism and poor examination results, but there were no guidelines that heads had to follow. 

This was reiterated by education secretary Michael Gove last week in response to a question in the House of Commons.

But Mr Bradbury said that “correlation does not always mean cause”. He told SecEd that there were members of the group whose children had already been denied leave of absence despite extenuating circumstances, including the declining health of family members, parental employment contracts with fixed holiday, and the return home of military personnel from overseas for limited leave.

“Heads are scared of how their absenteeism figures will look if they give permission, regardless of circumstances, and we are hearing that many are imposing a blanket ban,” he added.

The Association of School and College Leaders said that what constituted “extraordinary circumstances” was subjective and the union does not provide definitive guidance to its members.

General secretary Brian Lightman said: “I sympathise with parents who are faced with high costs of term-time holidays, but they should be expressing their frustration at companies that hike up costs, not at schools or the regulations that have been designed to help raise standards.

“Every day a child is not in school, their classmates are moving ahead and that child is being left behind. I would strongly urge parents considering participating in this day of action to think twice before disrupting their child’s education.”

For details on the group, visit



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