Term-time holiday fines treble in two years

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The number of fines issued to parents for taking children out of school for holidays in term-time has almost trebled in two years. 

At least 50,414 penalty notices were issued in the past academic year because children were taken out of lessons for trips. 

This is up 25% on the year before, when at least 40,218 were given out, and up 173% from the 18,484 fines handed out in 2012/13, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and reported by the Times.

The soaring numbers follow a government crackdown on absence, including the introduction of strict rules on term-time holidays in England two years ago.

The figures, released in the week before children across England break up for half-term, cover 71 councils that provided data for all three years. 

Overall, across 98 councils who responded, 86,010 fines were issued in 2014/15 for pupil absence, either through holiday or truancy. This was up from 62,204 the year before and 32,512 in 2012/13.

When it comes to holidays during term-time, parents in Lancashire were found to be the worst offenders, with almost 4,000 fines in the last school year.

Craig Langman, a father from Nuneaton who founded the campaign group Parents Want A Say, said nearly 230,000 people had signed his petition calling for the penalties to be scrapped.

The future of the fines was thrown into doubt last week when a father won a court battle after refusing to pay a £120 fine for taking his six year-old daughter out of school to go to Disney World, Florida.

The case against Jon Platt, 44, was thrown out by Isle of Wight magistrates after he argued that the law requires parents only to ensure their children attend school “regularly”.

The Department for Education said: “Our evidence shows missing the equivalent of just one week a year from school can mean a child is significantly less likely to achieve good GCSE grades.”

Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said: “Punishing parents financially for making individual decisions about their children’s education is not the way to improve our education system.

Meanwhile, the Local Government Association has called for a  “common sense approach” should be applied to parents in England taking children out of school for holidays

Head teachers should be allowed to give reasonable consideration to term-time leave requests and the LGA is calling on the Department for Education for a change in the rules, according to the BBC.

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