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.
“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.