School absence fines more than double

PUBLISHED: 17:30 31 July 2014

Archant

PARENTS across North Somerset have seen their bank balances diminish due to tighter restrictions on term-time absences.

The crackdown was widely predicted to hit parents hard in the pocket and those in North Somerset have been no exception.

The Government introduced new legislation in 2013 which aimed to deter parents from taking their children out of school in order to save money on cheap holiday deals.

The tightened rules left parents liable for a £60 fine as well as removing headteachers powers to authorise absences at their own discretion.

North Somerset Council handed out a total of 356 penalty notices during the most recent academic year, more than double the 130 fines dished out in 2012-13.

The number of prosecutions for unpaid fines has also increased, from just 15 in 2012-13 to 58 completed prosecutions in the year which has just ended, with nine cases still pending.

Jeremy Blatchford, the council’s executive member for children and young people’s services said: “Parents need to be aware of the damage they are doing to their child’s education.

“School attendance is a critical part of building high attainment.”

Despite a rise in penalty notices overall absence rates have improved, dropping from 5.1 per cent 12 months ago to 4.4 per cent at the end of the most recent academic year.

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