Primary school helps parents afford cheaper holidays

Chiddingstone Primary School Credit: Google Street View

A primary school in Kent has devised a way to help parents plan cheaper holidays.

Pupils at Chiddingstone Primary School, near Tonbridge, will see their school day extended by 20 minutes in return for an extra two weeks' holiday per school year.

Rather than one week off for half-term in May and October, the school will now break for two weeks, allowing parents to plan cheaper, off-peak holidays.

Lucky children at the school will break-up tomorrow for two weeks, unlike the majority of school children across the country who will begin their week-long half-term on May 27.

We have a very close relationship with our parents and after a long period of consultation we have decided to trial this restructure.

Chiddingstone Primary School head teacher Rachel Streatfeild

The law currently states that children can only be taken out of school during term time in “exceptional circumstances”, pushing up the prices of booking holidays during school breaks. Parents can face a £60 fine for doing so, which doubles to £120 if not paid within three weeks. Those failing to pay face prosecution, and a maximum fine of £2,500 or up to three months in prison.

Following last week's High Court victory for a father who refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter to Disney World Florida during term-time, there has been a surge in bookings outside of school holidays, with online travel booking website sunshine.co.uk reporting an 88 per cent increase in the number of family holiday bookings during the school term in the weekend after the ruling, compared to the previous weekend.

There was also a 32 per cent decline in holiday booked during July and August.

Jon Platt pictured after his High Court victory Credit: PA

Chiddingstone Primary is a Church of England school, which means that governors have the power to decide on the length of terms and the school day, unlike local authority schools.

Schools in Brighton and Hove are considering a similar plan, where teacher-training days could be used to vary term dates.