PARENTS have defended taking their children on holiday during the school year, insisting the huge savings on booking a trip away make the risk of a fine worthwhile.

After figures revealed more than 1,000 fines were dished out to parents in Southend during the last school year, Claire Duggan, from Southend, revealed she takes her two children out of school for five days “every single year”.

Despite the threat of being hit by a fine, the mum believes bagging a cut-price holiday makes it worthwhile.

She said: “I have done it every year since my boys have been at school, for approximately five school days per year.

“The main reason for this is 100 per cent due to cost. Even trying to go somewhere in the UK is three or four times the price during school holidays. The holiday companies have made it so hard for families to travel and have holidays.

“My eldest is now at secondary school and he used to have the same school holidays as my youngest but for some reason, they changed it, so this also plays a part as I sometimes have one in school holidays and one not. I’m a firm believer in balance and I wouldn’t be taking my children out if I was concerned about their education.”

Although she takes the children out of education for the holidays, she reinforces they must behave and get good grades or she will pull the plug on the getaways.

Claire added: “Holidays are just as important for families. Spending time as a family is essential.

“I certainly wouldn’t be taking my children out for two, three, four weeks every year, but within reason these holidays are building life skills and education outside of the curriculum.”

Anna Hyndman Lahna, from Westcliff, has worked in the travel industry for 30 years and supported the choices parents made.

She added: “I completely understand why parents take unauthorised school absence as even the fee is usually cheaper than the price hike in peak season.

“Any travel is educational so only benefits the child. Travel is never a waste of time or money and introduces individuals to an array of cultures, cuisines as well as language and geography lessons.

“Thirdly spending family time is incredibly rewarding. I have, over the years, taken my three daughters away in term time, both for family vacation and one-to-one bonding time.”