Fining parents ‘has no effect on absence’

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Media caption Heather Ward: “I was fined £ 60 for taking my daughter skiing”

Fining parents for taking kids out of school in term amount of time in Wales has had no effect on general absence rates, a review has discovered.

It shows the amount of unauthorised family holidays actually improved after fixed penalty notices had been introduced in 2013.

The review recommends changing the existing system.

The Welsh Government, which commissioned the review, said it would consider the proposals submit.

Cardiff saw probably the most fixed penalty notices issued within 2015-16 at 1, 531, whilst Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) got 1, 063 issued, 90% which were fines for term-time vacations.

At the other finish of the scale, Torfaen, Monmouthshire plus Carmarthenshire councils issued no updates.

In Wales ministers have recommended head teachers to use discretion to permit parents to take their children out of college for holidays, with fixed charges notices being issued by local authorities to those who do so without authorization from the school. But there are broad variations in policy of impacting fines in different council areas.

Meanwhile in England head educators can allow term-time breaks in “exceptional circumstances” with parents facing the particular threat of being taken to court when they break the rules.

In Northern Ireland no fees are issued with children’s presence being monitored instead.

The Scottish government has been questioned to comment.

Image caption Fines for unauthorised absences within Wales were introduced in 2013

The particular document – which selected teachers and staff of private sector organisations and local education consortiums — found the biggest decline in general absence was in the two years before the Welsh Government brought in the fines.

Several respondents said that the amount of the fine was too low in order to encourage behaviour change.

They said this was particularly the situation for unauthorised absences for vacations in term time because a few parents preferred to pay a £ 60 fine compared to the price of heading in the school holidays.

One respondent said “in this deprived area many households cannot afford the costs of a vacation out of term time. If they may, they soak up the cost of the good as part of the holiday cost (which indicates the fine has zero effect)”.

Interviewees also contributed stories of travel agents spending fines as part of a holiday deal or even of a social worker paying fees for families that they support to guarantee the family’s wellbeing is not adversely impacted. Some also speculated that mother and father did not pay fines because they failed to believe the local authority would go to prosecution.

The particular report notes there are inconsistencies throughout Wales in when fines are usually triggered – while 90% associated with RCT’s fixed penalty notices within 2015-16 were issued for vacations, none were given in the Vale associated with Glamorgan, Caerphilly and Ceredigion because of this.

Heather Ward from Cardiff said she had seen the particular inconsistencies even within the same nearby authority area.

“I took my daughter skiing pertaining to five days out of school and am was fined £ 60 to take her out, ” she stated.

“We went having a group of 11 people. Two additional children, same age different college a mile down the road, they were unable fined and we were. So it’s not really consistent. ”

The particular report suggests strengthening the assistance or establishing a single national plan for Wales – where most of local authorities would be told to have the exact same rules about when a fine needs to be given, rather than abolishing them.

A Welsh Government speaker said: “We will consider the plans in the report alongside other evidence gathered as part of our broader review of attendance policy in Wales. ”

Are you fined for taking your child out of school during term time? Or would you risk it?

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