Parents fined 24m for pupil absences

Image caption About 400, 000 charges notices for school non-attendance are actually issued to parents in England plus Wales in the past three years

Parents throughout England and Wales have been fined about £ 24m for not being able to send their children to school in the past three years, it has emerged.

A BBC investigation also displays some councils are issuing fines at rates five times greater than the average.

Some mom and dad say they now actively plan for the cost of fines when planning holidays.

While some councils admit they have got become “stricter”, they say they are safeguarding the education of children.

Together, 155 local authorities in England and Wales ( Scotland and Northern Ireland do not problem fines ) issued regarding 400, 000 penalties over 3 years. A further 19 did not supply information.

On average, 12 fines were issued per 1, 500 children – whether for truancy or for parents taking kids away on holiday during term period – during 2016-17.

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Some councils released penalties at rates five periods the average, including the Isle of Wight (64 per 1, 000 pupils), which usually last year won a long-running situation over an unauthorised holiday , East Riding of Yorkshire (63 per 1, 000) and Suffolk (60 per 1, 000).

All three councils released penalty tickets at a rate of more than sixty per 1, 000 pupils (compared with 12 per 1, 1000 on average). Of the Welsh specialists, Merthyr Tydfil had the highest charges rate at 4. 6 for each 1, 000 pupils, less than half the typical for England and Wales.

Paul Brading, Department of Wight’s cabinet member intended for schools, said its high price of fines was because authorities want every unauthorised absence to become “thoroughly followed through”.

From 2019, the authority is certainly cutting the summer holiday from 6 to five weeks and presenting a two-week autumn half expression instead.

The modifications would also give island mom and dad – many of whom work in the particular tourism sector – greater independence to take a family break outside conventional school holiday dates.

‘I’d do it again’

Image copyright Dave Human brain
Image caption Dave Brain, wife Hannah, plus their three children on their vacation in Florida last summer

When Dave Brain’s father passed away, he decided to make use of money left to him to purchase a family holiday to Florida.

Going during the school vacations, he said, would have cost regarding £ 8, 000 rather than the £ 4, 500 they would be billed for a term-time trans-Atlantic holiday.

So Mr Mind, wife Hannah and their 3 children decided to ignore the threat of the £ 60 fine and travelled off for a two-week holiday final September.

Florida being a destination held particular importance regarding Mr Brain, of Bristol, mainly because his late father used to get him there as a child.

“We try and stick to the holidays, inch he said. “But this was various and we budgeted for the fine, inch said Mr Brain, co-creator plus producer of the YouTube channel Guksack.

After their go back to the UK, the family received a £ 60 fine for one of their kids.

“And I would try it again in an instant if the same opportunity arose, inch he said.

Have you ever taken your child on a expression time holiday? Have you been fined regarding doing so? Email haveyoursay@bbc. company. uk

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Court case prompted ‘temporary hold’

Some councils documented a drop in the number of fees issued for term-time holidays throughout a high-profile court case.

In 2017, the Supreme Courtroom ruled against Jon Platt, that had won earlier legal fights against a £ 120 good in a case brought by Isle associated with Wight council.

Picture copyright PA
Picture caption Jon Platt got his daughter on a week’s vacation to Disney World in the United States 3 years ago without the head teacher’s authorization

Mister Platt, originally from Northern Ireland in europe, was fined for taking his child on holiday without permission.

One authority watching the Erstaunt case closely was Nottingham Town Council, where the number of fines released dropped from 1, 129 within 2014-15 to just 282 in 2016-17.

A authorities spokesman said the authority got “placed a temporary hold on fines to get holidays in term-time while all of us awaited the judgment”.

Fining resumed last fall, he said.

Mom and dad in Nottinghamshire faced the steepest rise in the number of fines issued in the uk – up tenfold from 370 in 2014-15 to 3, 771 in 2016-17.

Denis McCarthy, service manager at Nottinghamshire County Council said the numbers reflected schools “being stricter regarding the circumstances in which they authorise absence”.

“It essentially shows an increased level of enforcement activity becoming requested by schools in response to moms and dads removing their children from school in phrase time for an unauthorised leave associated with absence, ” he said.

“Historically – in comparison to some authorities – we released a small number of fines.

“So, whilst the increases appear significant I think we are now most likely more in line with lots of other authorities. inch

In Essex, the 2nd largest education authority area in the united states (after Kent), parents saw the amount of penalties issued treble (from 909 in 2014-15 to 3, 165 in 2016-17) for unauthorised expression time holidays.

Beam Gooding, the authority’s cabinet associate for education, said: “There are usually clear links between attendance plus attainment, and every lesson really does rely. ”

At the some other end of the spectrum is Southend Borough Council, where the number of fines issued dropped 98% from fifty two in 2014-15 to just one — for truancy – in 2016-17.

How do penalties work?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The cash from penalties goes to local education and learning authorities to cover the cost of enforcement, which includes prosecution

Penalty notices can be issued for several reasons including truancy, holidays used during term-time and pupils captured during “exclusion sweeps”.

Local authorities act on behalf of schools within issuing penalties, which start at £ 60 and then rise to £ 120 if not paid within 3 weeks.

A spokesman for the Association of faculty and College Leaders said: “No doubt people will argue that there ought to be a uniform approach across the country.

“But I would have got thought there is a reasonable case for people decisions to be made locally since schools and councils will be within the best position to judge what is most reliable as part of an overall strategy to deter unauthorised absences.

“The various other point – and surely the most crucial one – is that there should be do not need issue any penalty notices whatsoever because children should not be removed from college without authorisation. ”

Have you ever used your child on a term time vacation? Have you been fined for doing so? E-mail haveyoursay@bbc. co. uk

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