Education & Family

Term absence fines soar past 150,000

Holidays Image copyright Thinkstock

There were 151,125 penalty notices issued to parents in England for their children's term-time absence from school during 2014-15.

The figure represents a 54% increase compared with the previous year.

There has been a high-profile legal challenge to whether parents should have to pay fines for taking children on holiday during the school term.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Children should not be taken out of school without good reason."

The Department for Education figures include parents who have taken their children on term-time holidays - and the figures show that a high proportion of parents paid the penalty fines within 28 days.

But there were more than 21,000 cases where parents did not pay and were prosecuted - and in another 17,000 cases the penalties were dropped.

The figures show how fines for parents have become more common - with almost a fivefold increase in penalties over the past five years.

A separate set of figures, based on Freedom of Information requests carried out by the Santander bank, estimated that the fines levied last year amounted to £5.6m.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jon Platt has mounted a legal challenge to fines against parents for term-time holidays

In May the High Court ruled that a father did not have to pay a £120 fine to Isle of Wight Council after he took his daughter to Florida.

The court ruled that Jon Platt had no case to answer because, overall, his daughter had attended school regularly.

But the council has since been told it can apply to challenge the decision.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "The rules are perfectly clear - children should not be taken out of school without good reason.

"That is why we have tightened the rules and are supporting schools and local authorities to use their powers to tackle unauthorised absence.

"The evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chances of achieving good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances - vindicating our strong stance on attendance.

"A child who is absent also impacts teachers, whose planning of lessons is disrupted by children missing large portions of teaching."

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