Hundreds of parents fined for taking children on holiday during term-time
PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 April 2018
More parents were fined for taking their children out of school to go on holiday in 2016/17 than ever before.
Government statistics show 862 penalty notices were issued to parents by North Somerset Council in 2016/17.
Of those, 708 were for parents who had taken children on unauthorised family holidays during term-time. This was a 70 per cent increase from the previous year, and the council made £39,480 through 645 fines paid by parents.
The fines are £60 if paid within 21 days, but rise to £120 within 28 days.
A council spokesman said: “It is the headteacher’s decision to use their discretion whether to authorise term-time holidays for exceptional circumstances.
“The school requests penalty notices be issued by us – in line with our code of conduct which states a penalty notice can be issued for 10 or more unauthorised sessions (a session is a morning or afternoon registration) within a six-month period.
“We want children and young people in North Somerset to benefit from the fantastic education opportunities available. They can only do this if in school.”
As schools have joined up to multi-academy trusts, many of them have new policies to not allow term-time absences.
In 2016/17, 13 cases were taken to North Somerset Courthouse for non-payment. This can result in a fine of up to £1,000.
The council issued 506 penalty notices in 2015/16, 661 the year before, and 426 in 2013/14. In 2012/13 it handed out 130 penalty notices.
North Somerset has a higher rate of fines than the national average, with 31 notices issued for every 1,000 pupils, compared to 22 for England.
The money raised goes into the education welfare service budget to operate the scheme.
Fewer penalty notices were handed out by Somerset County Council in 2016/17 than the previous year, with a 38 per cent drop. Parents paid 342 fines, 43 per cent of which were for children being taken on unauthorised holidays during term-time.