Council fines parents of absent school pupils

By Emily Pearce

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

 

A TOTAL OF 327 fines have been issued to parents whose children have missed school since September.

The penalty notices were issued by the Isle of Wight Council when children were absent without permission — either they were caught playing truant or were taken out of school for unauthorised holidays — since new rules clamping down on term-time holidays came into force.

The government has scrapped rules allowing headteachers to grant absences of up to ten days per year for family holidays. Instead, they can only approve absences 'in exceptional circumstances’.

Parents can now be given a £60 fixed penalty notice for each child absent during term time, rising to £120 after 21 days.

If the fine is not paid within 28 days, parents can be prosecuted.

The new rules have sparked anger nationally, with many parents claiming they cannot afford to take their children on holiday during school holidays, when prices rise significantly, but the government has insisted action must be taken to curb unauthorised absence.

As previously reported, the Island’s secondary school absence and truancy rates are the worst in the country.

The council’s cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Richard Priest, said: "Improving attendance rates for schools on the Island is a key priority for the council. Absence can and does have an impact on attainment and progress.

"The council has many strategies to increase attendance rates and the impact is already showing positive results. For example, attendance data for all schools for the autumn term 2013 compared to 2012 is considerably higher."

Reporter: emilyp@iwcpmail.co.uk

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