A 126,000-signature petition is calling on the government to reverse a ban on children in England from taking holidays during school term time.

Campaigners say many families cannot afford the higher cost of breaks during the school holidays.

Headteachers could grant up to 10 days leave a year for family holidays in “special circumstances” until last month.

But since September 1, they have no longer been able to grant any absence outside school holidays except under “exceptional circumstances”.

The reference to the 10-day limit has been removed from the regulations, the BBC reported

A petition against the ban, started by a parent and hosted on the 38-Degrees ‘Campaigns By You’ website, had attracted 126,275 signatures by yesterday evening.

The petition says the ban will “adversely affect” families who cannot afford the higher prices charged to holidaymakers during the school holidays.

“Also, not all businesses can allow their staff to be off all at the same time”, says the petition.

“All children who have a good attendance record should be allowed the opportunity to enjoy quality time with their parents on an annual holiday of up to 10 days once per year.”

Craig Langman, the parent who started the petition, told BBC News his six-year-old son still recalls a holiday the family took to Rome during term-time two years ago and has done school projects based on the trip.

The cost of breaks during the school holidays can be three times as much as during term-time, he claimed.

“I am not asking kids to have a guaranteed extra two weeks on top of their existing 10 weeks holiday each year – but this blanket ban on term-time holidays with the threat of a fine is almost killing families,” Langman said.

The decision as to whether to grant a request for extra days off school should remain with headteachers, he added.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “If children aren’t in school they lose out on valuable learning time and have to waste more time catching up.

“That’s why children shouldn’t be taken out of school during term time unless absolutely necessary.

“We are giving all schools the freedom to set their own term dates, for example David Young Community Academy in Leeds operates a seven-term year starting in June.

“This means that parents and teachers can benefit from cheaper holidays at the end of September.

“We want schools to consider changes to term dates that will work for their pupils and their families.”