School term time holiday fines rise 93% in a year

The number of fines issued to parents for taking children on term time holidays has almost doubled in a year, Department for Education (DfE) statistics show. The BBC reports.

Penalty notices in England rose by 93% to almost 223,000 in 2017-18. “Unauthorised family holiday absence” was the most common reason for attendance fines, the DfE said.

Councils can require parents to pay £60 each per child taken out of school without permission. This rises to £120 if not paid within 21 days, and after 28 days parents can be prosecuted.

There were 19,518 prosecutions in England in 2017-18 for non-payment of the fines, up from 13,324 the year before.

Jon Platt, a father who lost a Supreme Court battle against a fine, said he felt “partly responsible” for the rise.

“There is clarity [on the law] but it’s a draconian clarity,” he said. “It’s disappointing to see that where there were tens of thousands of parents being fined, it’s now hundreds of thousands.”

The Campaign for Real Education said fines should be used a “last resort”.

Its chairman, retired head teacher Chris McGovern, said taking a child out of school for a “cheap holiday” could be a “remarkably selfish action”.

Jane Lynch, from Margate, said she budgets for the cost of fines when planning a trip because it was still cheaper than paying full price during the school break.

“We never take them out near exam periods,” she said. “We can’t see how going away once a year hurts.”

Schools in Wales are allowed to grant pupils up to 10 days absence for a family holiday during term time.

In the 2017-18 academic year family holidays accounted for 77% of fines issued, but fines were also issued for pupils arriving late to school.

Has your school seen an increase in the number of  fines issued? Are you a parent that has received a fine? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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