Parents willing to break rules and take children away on holiday in term time

Parents willing to break rules and take children away on holiday in term time

3rd April 2019

Thousands of parents are happy to pay a fine for taking their children out of school and away on holiday in term time rather than face higher prices during the traditional summer break.

New figures show that across Kent parents have paid out up to half a million pounds in fines over the last 12 months.

A report from the Department of Education shows that 4,530 fines have been handed out for holiday absence in the county, while the number of fines issued across the UK has almost doubled.

The Department for Education have said ‘unauthorised family holiday absence’ was the most common reason for the £120 attendance fines.

The fines, which can be reduced to £60 if paid within 21 days, have increased by 93 per cent across England, with 223,000 fines issued in 2017-2018.

Nearly 20,000 parents have been prosecuted in English courts for failing to pay the fine.

Jon Platt, a father who lost a Supreme Court battle against a fine, said he felt ‘party responsible’ for the rise.

Mr Platt, garnered a lot of publicity after successfully appealing a fine issued by Isle Of Wight Council for taking his daughter on holiday to Florida during term time before finally losing his case in the Supreme Court

In Kent, 2.3 per cent of pupils in the county have been taken away from school on holiday.

Kent County Council said only head teachers can grant permission to take a child out of school during term time, which will only be granted in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Roger Gough, KCC’s cabinet member for children, young people and education, told the Times: “Schools have responsibility to promote good attendance and employ a range of strategies to do so.

“Where schools advise the Local Authority of poor attendance, the response is always to investigate fully the reasons for that absence to ensure that any family needs are supported and addressed.

“There are two main reasons for issuing a Penalty Notice, the first is for unauthorised family holiday in term time and the second is for unauthorised absence other than holiday.”

He added that 88% of the Penalty Notices issued by KCC were for unauthorised holiday in term time.

“Where parents fail to engage or agreement is reached that the support offered is not improving attendance the Local Authority ensures the parents are aware that it can use its statutory powers under the Education Act 1996. At all stages of the above processes information is shared with parents.”

“Schools have responsibility to promote good attendance and employ a range of strategies to do so. If requested the Local Authority provides further support and guidance to young people and their parents/guardians. Where this is required there are officers who work alongside the school and families to identify barriers to improving attendance, offering targeted interventions where appropriate.

“Where parents fail to engage or agreement is reached that the support offered is not improving attendance the Local Authority ensures the parents are aware that it can use its statutory powers under the Education Act 1996. At all stages of the above processes information is shared with parents.”

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