For many parents, end of school term usually means taking their children away on a family holiday - but for a moment place yourself in Michelle Smith's shoes.

The 34-year old wanted to go to Ibiza for Easter with her partner, four children and stepson - but discovered new school rules meant her four children broke up on different weeks.

A Government ''free for all'' allowing schools to fix their own term dates meant daughter Amelia, 10, broke up for her fortnight's holiday two WEEKS after her two elder brothers, elder sister and stepbrother who attend other establishments. The older children also had a fortnight off but were due to go back to school once Amelia had broken up.

Mrs Smith alerted Amelia's primary school over the clash - but pressed ahead with the family's eight day break anyway.

Ten days after they arrived back in the UK she was issued with a £60 fixed penalty notice by Blackpool Council for failing to ensure her child attended school. Amelia had previously had an attendance rate of 100%.

Mrs Smith, a travel agent from Thornton Cleveleys, Lancs has refusing to pay the £60 penalty and could now be hauled to court where the fine could be increased to £2,500 and leave her facing three months jail and a criminal record.

But she said: ''Family holidays are incredibly important to us because we to spend that time together as a family - but these new rules on term dates simply don't make that possible anymore and I want to make a stand for all parents.

''The whole system simply doesn't take into account large families who have several children at different schools. We've had a problem before. I would never dream of taking Amelia out of school to go on holiday but in this case we had little choice.

''The other alternatives were leaving Amelia at home which of course we would not do - or just axe the family holiday altogether and I don't see why we should have to do that. This new system is putting families under unfair pressure."

Cavendish Press' coverage of Mrs Smith's plight featured in the Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph and The Times plus various websites. If you have a story please contact us on 0161 237 1066 or email [email protected].