Fines for taking term-time holidays – up 70%

More parents than ever are being fined for taking their child out of school for a holiday as authorities get tough

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The number of parents being fined for taking their child on holiday during school term time has increased by more than 70%.

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The research by BBC One’s Breakfast programme found 34 councils across England had imposed 5,300 fines during the autumn term.

Since September 1 2013, headteachers in England are no longer able to grant any absence except under ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Previously, they were able to grant up to 10 days of leave a year for family holidays in ‘special circumstances’.

It’s every parent’s legal responsibility to ensure their children attend school and, if they fail to do so, they may be issued with penalty notices of up to £100. Failure to pay these penalties can lead to prosecution, with the risk of £2500 fine and/or a community or jail sentence.

“Poor attendance at school can have a hugely damaging effect,” says a Department of Education spokesperson. “Children who attend school regularly are nearly 4 times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs than those who are regularly absent.”

The study revealed Liverpool City Council saw one of the biggest increases in the number of parents fined – up from 97 in the autumn term of 2012 to 250 in autumn 2013.

Ron Collinson, the council’s head attendance officer, says the tougher approach to fines has had a dramatic effect on raising attendance rates.

“We have the best figures for the autumn term that we’ve ever had,” he said.

“Part of that improvement is certainly due to this particular piece of work.”

He says he has sympathy for parents trying to save money on their family holiday, but that the child’s education has to come first.

He said: “You save a lot of money, but you pay the cost at the other end in terms of your child’s schooling.” 

Would you risk a fine to save money on a term-time holiday? Leave your comments below…

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