Ban on taking Plymouth children on holiday in term
PARENTS are being warned of tough new regulations to stop them taking their kids on holiday during term time – or face a fine of £120 per child.
The new Government rules come into effect from September 1, 2013, and headteachers have been told they cannot grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are "exceptional circumstances" or unavoidable causes such as illness or exclusions.
The Herald has already reported how Plymouth City Council has issued 443 fines since 2006 to parents whose children persistently skip classes.
From 2006 to September 2012, parents faced a £50 fine which rose to £100 if they failed to pay up within 28 days. From 2012 this figure rose to a £60 fine, or £120 if unpaid. From September 1, parents must pay £60 within 21 days or £120 within 28 days.
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So if a family with two children go on holiday during term time, the likely fine will be £240.
Councillor Nicky Williams, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "We don't want to have to fine parents, so please don't take your children on holiday during term time. The measure of discretion previously afforded headteachers is no more and any term-time holiday requests must be refused, plus any suspicion of term time holidays will be investigated and unauthorised absences will be referred to our Education Welfare Service. Parents found to be taking holidays in term time will be fined. We naturally want to avoid fining parents and so we are telling them about the changes now."
The old regulations allowed headteachers to grant leave for a family holiday during term time in 'special circumstances' of up to ten school days per year. Headteachers could also grant extended leave for more than ten school days in exceptional circumstances. The amendments to the 2006 regulations remove references to family holidays and extended leave as well as the statutory threshold of ten school days.
Fines can be issued for persistent lateness, young people being allowed out in public places when they are excluded from school and parents' failure to explain the reasons for persistent absences.
If fines are not paid, the council must take parents to court for failing to ensure their child regularly goes to school (not for failure to pay the fine) and this can increase fines up to £2,500 or result in three months imprisonment. In May The Herald reported how a total of 45 mums and dads had been prosecuted for letting their youngsters bunk off school in the pervious ten months.
The new regulations from this September have come about following the Taylor Report which stressed the importance of regular attendance at school. These extra measures are in addition the Government's previous reduction in the national persistent absence target from 20 to 15 per cent.
Cllr Williams continued: "Pupils attending less than 85 per cent of the time are much more likely to achieve lower grades.
"In fact one study showed that pupils missing just 10 days at school were likely to drop one full grade at GCSE.
"A combination of these tougher regulations imposed by Government and the reduction in the unauthorised absence target means we are likely to see an increase in the number of Penalty Notices and prosecutions over the coming months and years."
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