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Parents in the UK are facing increased fines for taking their children out of school during term time. The fines, which currently range from £60 to £2,500, will be increased to a minimum of £80 starting in August 2024. This move comes as a response to the growing trend of parents taking their children out of school to secure cheaper holiday deals, despite the potential consequences. Flight Centre UK’s survey found that 67% of parents were considering taking their children out of school for this reason.

The cost of living crisis and soaring prices of holiday trips have pushed parents to consider taking their children out of school for cheaper holidays. Flights during school breaks can be significantly more expensive compared to flights just a week earlier. For example, a family of four flying from London to Geneva could pay over 16 times more during half-term. However, the difference in flight costs may not always be significant, with some flights costing only slightly more during school breaks. With fines set to rise for children who miss five or more days, it is possible that fewer parents will risk holidaying during school time.

Parents across European countries face different penalties for taking their children out of school. In Austria, parents could face fines of €110 to €400 or up to two weeks’ imprisonment for unauthorised absences. France imposes fines of €135 for parents who are unable to justify their child’s absence. In Germany, fines range from €35 per day to €2,500, with the police actively checking airports for families taking unauthorised holidays. Hungary allows for some leniency, with parents able to remove their child from school for up to five days with permission from the school.

Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden also have rules regarding taking children out of school. In Italy, parents may face fines of up to €30 for taking their children out of primary school. The Netherlands imposes fines of up to €100 per day for school absenteeism. In Norway, fines can be issued to parents who take their children out of school without permission. Spain has fines that vary by municipality, with fines capped at €1,500 in most cases. And in Sweden, primary school students may be granted short periods of time off for certain trips or family celebrations.

In the UK, parents can face fines of up to £2,500 or imprisonment for taking their children out of school without permission. Fines currently start at £60 per parent for five or more missed days, rising to £120 each if not paid within 21 days. From August 2024, fines will start at £80 and rise to £160. Any school-time absence must be pre-authorised by the head teacher and classified as ‘exceptional circumstances’. Failure to adhere to these rules may result in milder consequences such as parenting orders, education supervision orders, or school attendance orders. Despite the potential consequences, a significant number of parents are still willing to risk fines to save money on holiday trips.

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