WIRRAL South MP Alison McGovern has backed the calls of more than 200,000 parents who wish to have a say on changes to school holiday rules.

More than 20 MPs spoke during a debate in parliament yesterday and urged the Government to listen to those who have signed up to the ‘Parents Want A Say’ campaign, which is battling to overturn amendments to the term-time family holiday rules.

The rule change, which came into effect last September, means head teachers can only grant time off in “exceptional circumstances”.

Previously, parents could take their children out of school for 10 days per academic year.

If mums and dads ignore the new rules they could face being prosecuted in court and having to pay hefty fines.

Parents claim the changes will adversely affect the many families who cannot afford a holiday during the mid-term break.

They claim the change will also impact on businesses who cannot allow the majority of staff to take time off at the same time.

Speaking during the debate Ms McGovern said: “A case has been raised by a parent in my constituency who has an autistic child.

“They struggle to go on holiday abroad when it is busy and when there are lots of other kids, so they are in a specific position.

“I am not sure whether that would be deemed to be exceptional, but that example makes the case that there needs to be more flexibility in the education system.”

She added: “While we must think of the cost that is lost from the amount being paid for a child’s education, we must also think of the opportunity cost of that child’s time with their parents.”

Craig Langman, who launched ‘Parents Want A Say’, said: “Parents are not saying taking children out of school is an absolute right.

“They simply want to revert back to allowing headteachers to make common sense decisions based on circumstances.

“These new changes will affect many families who cannot afford the cost of a holiday during the normal mid-term break.

“It will also impact on business who cannot allow the majority of staff to be on holiday at the same time.

“The Government has failed to grasp that there is simply not enough accommodation at the height of school holidays and this in turn forces up prices.

“The old policy, which worked to everyone’s satisfaction, resulted in only 0.5% of absenteeism from school.”