Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 8°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Suffolk: Number of fines issued for parents who allow their children to miss school rises by almost 500% in five years

06:44 21 August 2014

Some parents are letting their children miss school to go on holiday

Some parents are letting their children miss school to go on holiday

The number of fines issued to parents in Suffolk for allowing their children to miss school has risen by almost 500% in the last five years, it can be revealed.

shares

Figures show 303 fines for unauthorised absences were handed out to parents between September and July, compared with just 61 in 2009/10.

The number of fines issued for taking children on holiday during term-time trebled in four years – from 15 in 2009/10 to 46 in 2012/13.

Data was not released for the last academic year, but it comes amid a controversial government crackdown designed to stop parents taking their children on cheaper family holidays outside of the traditional summer break.

Rules imposed by former education secretary Michael Gove last September ban parents from taking their children out of school unless the circumstances are “exceptional”. Previously, headteachers had the discretion to allow up to 10 days of authorised absence.

Those who ignore the ban face a £120 fine for each child. It is £60 if paid within 28 days. Those who refuse to pay face prosecution, three months in prison and a £2,500 fine.

According to the Suffolk County Council figures, released under Freedom of Information laws, one in every five fines in Suffolk was for children being taken on holiday during term-time.

The hardening of the stance against absenteeism was designed to stop families damaging their children’s education. But parent groups claim the stance is too draconian and leave families paying top prices for trips during the school holiday season. Others argue headteachers are applying them too strictly and insist no guidance has been given to schools on what “exceptional” means.

Schools are taking a tougher line because poor attendance records are marked down by inspectors.

Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers, said: “There are tremendous pressures on schools in terms of exam results and the league table, and some headteachers are being forced into putting parents through the courts with fines. That is not the way to resolve the situation. Parents should be educated, not punished. The fine system is not working and is discriminatory because it has a bigger impact on lower paid families.”

Lisa Chambers, Suffolk’s cabinet member for education and skills, said she understood it can sometimes seem “necessary or desirable” to take children out of school, adding: “We have an excellent education welfare service in Suffolk and our staff work hard with parents on the need to ensure their children are in school.

“Sometimes tough action is needed to enforce the point that a child’s education must always come first. If parents, teachers and headteachers combine their efforts in discouraging truancy, educational standards in Suffolk will improve.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We have increased fines for truancy and encouraged schools to address the problem earlier, and are giving schools the flexibility to set their own term times to better suit pupils and parents.”

shares

2 comments

  • I would suggest as a way of reversing this decision that all parents vote against the tories and lie dems !, Politicians are supposed to be REPRESENTING the public not DICTATING to them !

    Report this comment

    freedomf

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • Schools are far too self important these days since they started calling themselves things like "Power Victory Hero Academy". They play a vital part in education, but they are not the exclusive providers. Most of the important lessons in life are learned from life experiences and from family.

    Report this comment

    Tamara Knight

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

The scene of a thatch fire in Stoke-by-Nayland

A picturesque country cottage is still standing today despite a fire ripping through its thatched roof.

An Abellio Greater Anglia train

Rail services between London Liverpool Street and Norwich have been cancelled after a train fault at Diss.

Ipswich Town v Arsenal  FA Cup Final at Wembley 1978 - 

Kevin Beattie and Allan Hunter

It is an impassioned debate which never fails to invigorate the East Anglian derby.

Colchester Half-Marathon. Starting and finishing at Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Competitors braved the dismal morning weather today to take part in the Colchester Half Marathon.

The scene after the thatched roof fire in Stoke by Nayland - Picture credit - Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service

Ten fire crews tackled a thatched roof blaze in a Suffolk village overnight.

Sir John French: a colourful character and respected soldier

We’ve heard about the Suffolk men who fought at the battle of Neuve Chapelle.

Ipswich Crown Court

A 19-year old man who met up with a 13-year-old girl and exchanged text messages with her despite being given a police caution for kissing her several months earlier has been sentenced to 21 months youth detention.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral overlooking colourful displays in the Abbey Gardens

Suffolk’s most important religious building has been awarded a £300,000 Government grant to pay for urgent roof repairs.

Josephine Murphy

An 86-year-old woman who had gone missing from Clacton has been found safe and well

Aftermath of a barn fire in Holton.

A television antiques expert has appealed for help rebuilding his eco-friendly arts centre in Suffolk after a major blaze destroyed the historic sawmill that was to be its showroom and workshops.

Most read

Topic pages