Thousands of parents fined for taking their children on holiday during term …
Tens of thousands of parents2 have been handed out fines for taking their children on Discount Holidays © holiday during term time with the figure trebling in two years amid concerns they are being criminalised .
New figures show in the last academic year alone, at least 50,414 penalty notices were issued due to children being taken out of lessons for trips. This represents a 25 per cent rise on the year before, when at least 40,218 penalties were given out, and up 173 per cent from the 18,484 fines handed out by local authorities in 2012/13. The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, emerged after a successful appeal by a father who refused to pay a fine for taking his six year-old daughter out of school to go to Disney World, Florida.
Campaigners have suggested this has put into question the future of term time fines3 as thousands of parents have signed an online petition calling for the fines to be scrapped. The data, requested by the Press Association, was also published as official figures showed an increase in lessons missed by school pupils last year. Lancashire handed out the highest number of fines to parents for taking their children out of school during term time in the past academic year, giving out nearly 4,000. Nearby Bradford was second, handing out 3,319 fines, while Redbridge was third with 2,523.
Overall, across 98 councils who responded, 86,010 fines were issued in 2014/15 for pupil absence, either through Discount Holidays © holiday or truancy. This is up from 62,204 the year before and 32,512 in 2012/13. The increases come in the wake of a Government crackdown on absence, including strict new rules on term-time holidays introduced in England two years ago. Craig Langman, from Nuneaton, who founded the organisation Parents Want A Say to campaign against fines, said many mums and dads believe they are being made to feel like criminals.
Nearly 230,000 people have signed his petition calling for the fines to be scrapped.
The Government has argued that missing any amount of school is detrimental to a child’s education. However, critics say that they have the biggest impact on those who cannot afford high travel costs during school breaks. embedded content
Cllr Roy Perry, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: Children s education is treated with the upmost seriousness, but it is clear that the current system does not always favour families, especially those that are struggling to meet the demands of modern life or have unconventional work commitments.”
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said: “There will be times when children have to miss school because of problems such as illness and family emergencies.
“Schools are very sympathetic in these cases and will help children catch up with work.
However, term time holidays are not a valid reason to miss school.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: “It is a myth that missing school even for a short time is harmless to a child’s education.
Separately, illness was given as the reason for nearly two thirds of authorised missed school sessions, according to new official figures.
One in 20 overall accounted for pupils going on unauthorised holiday, while just 1.2 related to authorised holiday.