School term holiday fines up by third - The Evesham Observer

School term holiday fines up by third

Evesham Editorial 14th Feb, 2020 Updated: 20th Feb, 2020   0

VALE headteachers have emphasised the importance of avoiding term-term holidays after new figures revealed fines for parents taking their children out of school rose by a third in Worcestershire.

Headteacher at The De Montfort School and Prince Henry’s High School spoke to the Observer in response to a Freedom of Information request from the Knowledge Academy which revealed £48,240 in fines were paid in the county last year.

The figure is up from £34,800 in 2017/18 and the 33 per cent rise is mirrored in the number of penalty notices issued, which rose to 957 in 2018/19 from 718 in the year before.

Headteachers are forbidden from granting absences during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Leave of absence must be agreed by the school in advance. If not approved but still taken, it is recorded as an unauthorised absence

Should parents take their child out of school for an unauthorised absence they may be liable to a fine of £60 per parent per child, rising to £120 per parent per child if not paid within 21 days.

The charges have provoked controversy for a number of years with many parents choosing to be fined in protest at the price hikes imposed by travel firms during traditional school holidays.

Guy Nichols, headteacher at The De Montfort School, said the school had been forced to take an increasingly tough line because parents have been taking more term time holidays.

“Whilst I do have sympathy because of the very large savings they make, the estimated cost to their child’s chances of academic success and subsequent impact on their earnings and job prospects through missing time at school is a concern,” he said.

“Some parents are trapped due to work constraints that are not possible to move.

“However less than 90 per cent attendance more than halves a child’s chances of success at GCSE and I don’t think parents always appreciate how easy it is for attendance to fall to this level.

Prince Henry’s High School headteacher Dr Tony Evans said: “We have always strongly advised against parents taking their children out of school during term time, particularly for holidays, as it can be disruptive for the child and the classes they are in.

“An attendance figure of greater than 95 per cent, meaning less than 10 school days missed per year, ensures students have a 75 per cent chance of gaining five good GCSEs.

“We continually reinforce the importance of good attendance through our regular newsletters to parents,” he added.

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