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Are schools in the UK taking the PISTE? Ski operator to pay parents’ truancy fines

Just last week it was revealed that the number of fines for taking children on holiday during term time was up by more than 70% compared to the autumn term of 2012. In a dramatic bid to prevent more families from being penalised by taking advantage of cheaper rates, a British ski holiday operator has offered to pay the £700 fines. MountainBase put out the offer on its Facebook page along with the slogan “Are schools in the UK taking the PISTE?”

It said that families in the UK were missing out on record snow levels and excellent piste conditions in France at the moment because of the new law. To prevent innocent parents and children being punished for holidaying in term-time the operator will pay any local authority fines. “So we have a special offer which is as follows. Book a week with children at MountainBase/Inferno, we will, if you receive a fine from your school/local authority, pay the fine on copy of a receipt from yourselves.”

The Bedford company has since received criticism for its marketing tactics, with the Department for Education releasing a statement to say: “Taking children out of school without permission for a holiday is a criminal offence. “When doing so, parents are risking prosecution which could mean much higher financial penalties and a criminal record.”

The legislation, which made it tougher for parents to take their children out of school, was introduced in September 2013. Since then over 5,000 penalties have been issued across England. By doing so, parents face a £60 fine per child per parent, or £120 if not paid within 21 days. In response to the backlash, Mountain Base owner Lee Quince has said that the offer is no different to its offer of a free child ski pass.

He has also said that the truancy fines aren’t affecting the people they should be and instead are punishing “innocent families” that simply can’t afford the inflated price in the school holidays.

Families that do want to save money on their ski holidays must remember to compare prices, buy winter sports travel insurance and book as early as possible.

Date Created: 18 March 2014

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