A MOTHER is taking a stand against fines for Isle of Wight families taking holidays during term time.
Under new Department for Education regulations, which came into force on September 1, headteachers are unable to grant leave from school unless there are exceptional circumstances and can issue fines of £60 for each parent who fails to ensure their children attend school regularly.
Parents have 21 days to pay the fine before it increases to £120 each, which they then have another week to pay before prosecution.
Mother of five, Alix Parsons, of Argyll Street, Ryde, is launching a fight against the fines and has set up a Facebook group to gather support and has contacted Isle of Wight MP Andrew Turner.
She said: "We were only told in July about the change but last January I booked a holiday to Center Parcs for next January.
"The holiday cost £350 for all of us but if I’d booked it for February half term it would cost an extra £1,000. I can’t afford that and the cost of ferries during the holidays."
Alix, who has submitted holiday request forms to her children’s schools, Newchurch Primary and Christ the King, said she was going to take her family on the holiday, had no intention of paying the fine and that children who keep their attendance high should be rewarded.
She added: "There’s no right of appeal so this is not a fine, it’s a tax."
The headteacher of Newchurch Primary School Kirsty Howarth said: "The school is following legislation that no holiday is to be taken in term time."
Christ the King declined to comment.
A spokesman for the Isle of Wight Council said the new legislation was part of the Education Act and schools on the Isle of Wight were just following what they had been told by the government.
Alix is also supporting a national online petition to reverse the rules, which has thousands of signatures.
A government response, issued after the first 10,000 signatures were received, stated it had no plans to change the policy and it was a government priority that children of compulsory school age attended regularly and absence be reduced to a minimum.
To join Alix’s group, visit www.facebook.com/groups/320889104722130/ and find the e-petition at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/49640