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Schooltime holidays soar

ONE in five parents plan to take their children out of school early this year to save on holiday costs, a survey has shown.

The figure rose to almost one in three (31pc) for families living in the Leinster region.

And parents aged between 35 and 54 are most likely to take their children out of class before the end of term to use off-peak holiday packages.

In this age bracket, 23pc said they would be heading off early, the survey by travel website lastminute.com found.

Mark Maddock, MD of lastminute. com UK and Ireland, said: "As budgets are tight, there are many tips to help keep costs under control that will not impact on school attendance.

"For example, travellers can make considerable savings by booking on a certain day or being flexible about the day of the week they travel."

Lastminute said it has tips to help families save money.

These include:

* Try browsing and booking on a Saturday morning. Bookings put on hold by business customers on a Friday night are released and inventory may become available again.

* If you travel Monday to Thursday, you might get a lower fare.

The online survey was carried out iReach between May 24 and May 27 among 1,000 parents.

Lastminute.com pointed out that figures from the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB) showed the average primary school pupil misses 11 out of 183 days of school a year, rising to 13 days at post-primary level.


Commenting recently, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said it is vital that the trend of parents taking children out of school for holidays is stopped.

"If they want to take a holiday and they are tight on cash, you can understand the pressures that they may very well be under," the minister said.

"But those pressures are compounded if they don't particularly put a value on education.

"Simply giving out to them because they are availing of a holiday is not necessarily going to be effective – it's a much deeper problem than that and it's not just confined to Ireland," Mr Quinn added.

He tasked the NEWB's home school liaison officers to put an end to the practice.