Could bigger fines for term-time holidays be on the way?

The current £100 fine isn't enough, says Ofsted Chief Sir Michael Wilshaw

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Taking your child out of school for a term-time holiday could be about to get a lot more costly as Ofsted Chief Sir Michael Wilshaw said he wants to see fines raised. Currently, parents are fined up to £100 for unauthorised absence during school time. Failure to pay these penalties can lead to prosecution, with the risk of a £2,500 fine and/or a community or jail sentence. But Wilshaw says this isn’t enough to stop parents flouting the rules.

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“I would like to see the fines raised,” he told The Sunday Times. “We have too many parents taking their children out in term time . . . I think schools should adopt a hard line and not allow the youngsters out.”

If parents don’t pay their fines, they can be threatened with court action – and Wilshaw says he supports this. “If parents are behaving irresponsibly then the state is right to say, ‘This is wrong and you are being a bad parent’,” he said.

In a MadeForMums poll of 539 mums, we found 51% of parents have taken their child out of school for a holiday or short break. Of these, 20% said the absence was for one day and 14% took their child out of school for more than 5 days.

Last year, a couple were fined nearly £1,000 for taking their children out of school for a week’s holiday in September. Stewart and Natasha Sutherland, from Telford, Shropshire, had originally been fined £360 but, after repeatedly refusing to pay, ended up in court and faced jail.

But despite the authorities getting tough – more parents than ever are being fined for taking their child out of school for a holiday – last year fines were up 70%. Research by BBC One’s Breakfast programme found 34 councils across England had imposed 5,300 fines during the autumn term.

Would you take your child out of school for a holiday during term-time and risk a fine? Let us know in the comments below.

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