Europe

NI parents convicted over school absence

Primary school children in a classroom

Between 2011 and 2016, 356 parents or guardians in Northern Ireland were convicted because their children were absent from school.

It is not clear how many times the maximum fine, £1,000, was imposed in that period.

However, according to the latest figures provided by the Education Authority, two people were fined £1,000 in 2015-2016.

In total that year, 87 parents were convicted for their child's absence.

Seven people were fined £750, one was fined £650, eight were fined £500, with the reminder being fined smaller sums.

The BBC has also learned that in 2014-15, 144 people were taken to court, 50 convicted and 27 fined.

The 2014-15 figures were lower than each of the previous two years, with 41 parents fined in 2012-13 and 60 in 2013-14.

Image caption Jon Platt had refused to pay a fine for taking his daughter out of school for a trip to Florida

In England, a father has lost his legal challenge against a fine for taking his daughter on an unauthorised term-time holiday.

The Supreme Court ruled against Jon Platt, who had won earlier legal battles against a £120 fine in a case brought by the Isle of Wight council.

By law, parents are required to ensure that children aged between four and 16 receive a full-time education.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Flights to the sun can prove cheaper in term time

If they do not, schools and the education authority intervene.

Normally, if a pupil's attendance at school drops below 85% of days over a period of time, this triggers follow-up action.

Initially, this can involve a parental visit from an education welfare officer, and there is usually a long process before parents are prosecuted.

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