Norfolk parent fined £360 for children’s school absences amid big rise in penalties across the region

More parents have been fined because of their children being absent from schol. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire More parents have been fined because of their children being absent from schol. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
9:51 AM

More parents are being fined for taking their children out of school without permission since the government tightened rules on term-time holidays.

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Previously, headteachers could grant up to 10 days leave in a school year in “special circumstances”, but since September government regulations have said no term-time leave is now allowed unless there are “exceptional circumstances”.

There have been concerns that some parents are tempted to book holidays during school time because they are often cheaper than those during school holidays.

Local authorities can issue fines of £60 for unauthorised absences, increased to £120 if it is not paid on time, and Norfolk County Council revealed that one parent in the county had been fined a total of £360 for their three children.

Cambridgeshire County Council said the total amount it had fined parents so far this year was £3,000, compared to £900 in the whole of 2012-13. The number of fines increased to 79, from 32, in the same period.

Suffolk County Council said the number of fixed penalty notices issued had nearly quadrupled since the new rules came into effect, with 45 issued in autumn term 2013 compared to 12 in autumn term 2012, while the total collected in fines increased to £1,200, from £240.

Norfolk County Council said it issued 11 fixed penalty notices in autumn term 2013, compared to just one in the same period last year.

Ian Clayton, headteacher of Thorpe St Andrew School, said the school did not want to target fines at parents who only took pupils out of school on holiday, but could if this was combined with persistent absences.

He said the school would hold meetings with parents and pupils if there was a problem with absences, and set targets for it to improve, and fines would only be considered later the process.

Hewett School associate headteacher Rob Anthony said his school did not use fines, and said he had heard of parents elsewhere sending in holiday request forms with a cheque attached to cover the cost of a fine.

He said: “It means that families that can afford to take holidays in term time will continue to do so because the amount they save from going on holiday in term time far outweighs the fine.”

He said the Hewett meets parents to try to get to the bottom of why a child does not attend school regularly, and sometimes that can lead to court action.

Should parents be fined for taking their children out of school for holidays? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

48 comments

  • This is not just about money-are you all nine to fivers? We would have struggled to get a holiday as a family because of where and how my partner worked when they were kids if we had been forced to take one in the set vacations. Money was not the problem , it was getting time off at the right time-even being in the same country at the right time. Fortunately we had reasonably understanding head teachers-and the kids have a PhD, an MA three BAs and a PGCE between them-and two of those degrees are from the best university in the UK. I guess their holidays did not do too much harm.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • To those who complain about holidays costing more at peak times, this happens all over the world and is otherwise known as supply and demand. Do you also complain about sales or special offers in shops and on line? So do you take advantage of it or refuse to buy then as a matter of principle?

    Report this comment

    andy

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Ah, right. So parents always know whats best for their children. That explains the high aspirations within Norfolk and the abundance of motivated students and parents who work with the teachers for their benefit. And while we're at it lets buy our kids games consoles because we love them so much we want them out of sight for 6 hours a day. They'll be ok at school because we'll give them money to buy an energy drink on the way!

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • 'TheTruth' summer holidays with family is not a "right" it's a "norm", it's what families do, why should any family have to miss out on that time together just because they cannot afford it during school holidays when the price is so inflated?

    Report this comment

    catalonia13

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Are the parents going to fine the teachers for taking their children out of school in term time, when they go on strike

    Report this comment

    canarybell

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Interfering bunch of looney lefties!! Teachers can strike during term time! Schools can have staff training days, activity days weeks, sports days in term time. They close at the slightest sign of a bit of snow or ice. However parents who REALLY do have their childrens interest at heart (as after all they did choose to bring them into the world) have their choice as to when they can all have a family holiday dictated by teachers and schools - What a joke!!! There is a huge difference between persistant truancy and missing 10 school days to go away as part of a loving family bonding further on a holiday that they have chosen to take at a time convenient to the whole family.

    Report this comment

    The Golden One

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • summer holidays are not a right, my children never went on holiday as |I couldn't afford them. I f schools want to stop parents taking their children out of school during term time the fines should be as much as the extra cost of the holiday, this I believe would stop children missing valuable learning when it is hard enough to get a job.

    Report this comment

    Christine_Armes

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Sportswagon it should have nothing to do with the law. Its about doing what is right. Its the daft leftie philosophy of 'its not fair that I cant do what I want' that's to blame rather than any change to legislation. Some parents will take their kids anyway (usually the type of kids its nice for teachers to have a break from). Some wont. Always has been. Always will be. You even get holiday companies who state they will pay your fine for you.

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • When did going on a summer holiday become a right? If you cannot afford it, don't go. Save up and go the next year!

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • When did going on a summer holiday become a right? If you cannot afford it, don't go. Save up and go the next year!

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Sportswagon it should have nothing to do with the law. Its about doing what is right. Its the daft leftie philosophy of 'its not fair that I cant do what I want' that's to blame rather than any change to legislation. Some parents will take their kids anyway (usually the type of kids its nice for teachers to have a break from). Some wont. Always has been. Always will be. You even get holiday companies who state they will pay your fine for you.

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • The Truth. Must be afrustrated teacher or something of a similar ilk. The age of the child makes a difference on the impact that missing school has. An 18 year old student as opposed to a 6 year old for example. If I choose to take my 10 year old on a safari, it is much more educational for them than primary school, as they see other ways of life and culture. They can catch up a short period away from school quickly, as they would if they were off with chicken pox or similar!

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014

  • summer holidays are not a right, my children never went on holiday as |I couldn't afford them. I f schools want to stop parents taking their children out of school during term time the fines should be as much as the extra cost of the holiday, this I believe would stop children missing valuable learning when it is hard enough to get a job.

    Report this comment

    Christine_Armes

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Like so many other comments ... I do hope parents who have been fined for taking children out of school will now get their money refunded, plus what teachers should pay for not doing their contracted job. Schools are not the only places, and often not the right places to educate children. Leave it to the intelligent parents to make the choice ..

    Report this comment

    Patrick

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014

  • In response to The Truths comment: .. "Ah, right. So parents always know whats best for their children. That explains the high aspirations within Norfolk and the abundance of motivated students and parents who work with the teachers for their benefit. And while we're at it lets buy our kids games consoles because we love them so much we want them out of sight for 6 hours a day. They'll be ok at school because we'll give them money to buy an energy drink on the way!" No parents do not Always make the right or even best choices for thier children, but does that mean that ALL parents should be stripped of the right to make choices on what is best for thier children, because of an occasional error in judgement or even worse because of the few dreadful parents out there. You're right there are a lot of parents out there who don't make time for thier children, but I amnot one of those parents. My children do not own games consoles, or even have TV's in thier rooms. When my eldest was struggling with learning at his school (in Norfolk) I tried helping 1 day a week in his classroom to give extra learning support but this still wasn't enough so eventually we took him out 1 day a week (flexi-learning) to have lessons with me on a one to one basis and on top of that he did 20 mins extra work every day at home (inc weekends) and once he was up to scratch then they wanted him back full time... and this year (full time a school) we find ourselves in the same position... the school seems unable to teach him and he is falling behind and we are going to have to intervene again, so sometimes the school isn't the best learning environment. I realise I'm in minority but I feel that I have the right to give my children the best education they can have and I don't believe that the only place that can happen is in a classroom. I believe that my children would learn more with me on holiday for a week than staying at school that week I think the only thing would get hurt is the trianing the children recieve to pass the tests that make the school look good.

    Report this comment

    KBradbury

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Interfering bunch of looney lefties!! Teachers can strike during term time! Schools can have staff training days, activity days weeks, sports days in term time. They close at the slightest sign of a bit of snow or ice. However parents who REALLY do have their childrens interest at heart (as after all they did choose to bring them into the world) have their choice as to when they can all have a family holiday dictated by teachers and schools - What a joke!!! There is a huge difference between persistant truancy and missing 10 school days to go away as part of a loving family bonding further on a holiday that they have chosen to take at a time convenient to the whole family.

    Report this comment

    The Golden One

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • This is not just about money-are you all nine to fivers? We would have struggled to get a holiday as a family because of where and how my partner worked when they were kids if we had been forced to take one in the set vacations. Money was not the problem , it was getting time off at the right time-even being in the same country at the right time. Fortunately we had reasonably understanding head teachers-and the kids have a PhD, an MA three BAs and a PGCE between them-and two of those degrees are from the best university in the UK. I guess their holidays did not do too much harm.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • "V" struggling to remember his kids mothers names ! Quote " Can't remember which but one of my kids mothers....." astounding ;-) "The Golden One" training days come out of what was teachers holidays not term time, pupils did not lose any time because of this. And what effect does he think that teachers withdrawing heir labour over changes to their working conditions have in a holiday ? These are amongst other mis-informed comments.

    Report this comment

    Responsible parent

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Oh, its the norm is it? Well go somewhere cheaper! What message does it give off to young people? How about the alternative message of teaching them about saving and making sacrifices rather than doing what you want because it suits you!

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Another money spinner! Rich just before teachers decide to remove themselves from schols and go on strike.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014

  • 'TheTruth' - going on holiday is not a right, its a norm, it's what most families do; why should any family be denied that just because they cannot afford the inflated prices during 'school holiday' time?

    Report this comment

    catalonia13

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • I cannot see why the schools and councils do not use a simple solution to end all these fines for parents and encouraging the holiday companies to bump up the prices only in school holidays periods.Why dont they shorten the summer holidays period by 10 school days and grant 10 school days authorized absences to be taken in any term between september to july at any time.Then the pupils would do the 10 days at the end of the summer break and teachers would work a extra 10 days fantastic!!!!!! What a great solution.

    Report this comment

    solution man

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • When did going on a summer holiday become a right? If you cannot afford it, don't go. Save up and go the next year!

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • I think anyone who thinks this is about the child has had their head in the sand for the last ten years. There is something very rotten about a Government minister who insists head teachers should not be allowed the discretion to permit time off in school terms but then forces the same head teacher to use unqualified staff to supervise lessons. We all know that education has become never mind the quality feel the league tables. We all know that there a big fat seam of hypocrisy running right through -traveller children are not forced to be in school if "travelling" ehtnic minorities remove children for long periods to visit their country of origin, free schools and home educators can do what they like more or less. But the couple who work for businesses where vacation dates are set a long time ahead or seasonally limited and who have a problem co ordinating their breaks with a school's can whistle for a holiday with their kids. This is failing to trust parents.We know there would be some abuses of the former system but heads should be trusted to treat their pupils fairly. To cite just one example-what of a soldier on active service whose leave does not coincide with school holidays? Would you fine that family for taking a holiday with their children in term time?

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Sportswagon it should have nothing to do with the law. Its about doing what is right. Its the daft leftie philosophy of 'its not fair that I cant do what I want' that's to blame rather than any change to legislation. Some parents will take their kids anyway (usually the type of kids its nice for teachers to have a break from). Some wont. Always has been. Always will be. You even get holiday companies who state they will pay your fine for you.

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Just a thought but do we fine the teachers tomorrow for going on strike? That's a day our children will miss school.....

    Report this comment

    tinks2100

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • thankfully school is not compulsory so at least those that home ed can go away whenever they like!

    Report this comment

    catalonia13

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • No, parents definitely should not be fined for taking their children out of school for holidays. The cost of taking a family on holiday during school holiday time absolutely rockets - making it difficult, if not impossible, for a lot of parents to afford it. Children do get a lot out of holidays - the opportunity to experience new things, outside of their normal day to day life and the very rigid National Curriculum. I do agree with the Headteachers quoted in that, if holiday absences are coupled with problems of continuous absences, then any underlying problems should be looked into and dealt with. From what is said in this article, many parents are prepared to pay a fine, presumably because the money they save on taking a holiday at that time, more than compensates for the cost of the fine. The holiday companies carry on charging such extortionate rates, just because they know they can get away with it. Their actions also penalise teachers who themselves have to pay inflated rates to take a holiday away.

    Report this comment

    Janice G

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • When did going on a summer holiday become a right? If you cannot afford it, don't go. Save up and go the next year!

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Hang on Golden One......"Interfering bunch of looney lefties!!"....we have a Tory Lib Dem Government who made this stupid law. They won't get my vote again!!

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Sportswagon it should have nothing to do with the law. Its about doing what is right. Its the daft leftie philosophy of 'its not fair that I cant do what I want' that's to blame rather than any change to legislation. Some parents will take their kids anyway (usually the type of kids its nice for teachers to have a break from). Some wont. Always has been. Always will be. You even get holiday companies who state they will pay your fine for you.

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Oh, its the norm is it? Well go somewhere cheaper! What message does it give off to young people? How about the alternative message of teaching them about saving and making sacrifices rather than doing what you want because it suits you!

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Cant remember which but one of my kids mothers was going to be fined until she told them that magaluf has museums and things that are educational and the school backed down Just tell them youre going to be educating them.

    Report this comment

    ''V''

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Sportswagon it should have nothing to do with the law. Its about doing what is right. Its the daft leftie philosophy of 'its not fair that I cant do what I want' that's to blame rather than any change to legislation. Some parents will take their kids anyway (usually the type of kids its nice for teachers to have a break from). Some wont. Always has been. Always will be. You even get holiday companies who state they will pay your fine for you.

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • If you cannot afford a holiday, DO NOT GO ON HOLIDAY. It's not rocket science is it. I haven't had a summer holiday for 3 or 3 years as I can't afford it. Holidays have ALWAYS been more expensive during school holidays. If you can't afford kids, don't have them.

    Report this comment

    Lord Elf

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • It is not about the holiday companies ... it'a about the governement erroding the parents rights to choose what is best for thier children. While I believe every child has a right to an education, I don't believe it is such a one dimensional thing. For Parents Who feel stongly enough and who willing there is a Childrens Strike propsed for the 23rd of May 2014 for more information search for "Strike to reverse changes to school term time holidays" - On Facebook

    Report this comment

    KBradbury

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • It is not about the holiday companies ... it'a about the governement erroding the parents rights to choose what is best for thier children. While I believe every child has a right to an education, I don't believe it is such a one dimensional thing. For Parents Who feel stongly enough and who willing there is a Childrens Strike propsed for the 23rd of May 2014 for more information search for "Strike to reverse changes to school term time holidays" - On Facebook

    Report this comment

    KBradbury

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Fine them £500 per child, these parents need an expensive lesson taught to them, take them to court, and also the airline companies, spot checks on airlines will stop them letting kids board their planes..

    Report this comment

    Footyboy16

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • It isn't just the cost, its the oppressiveness of being told you can't do something which is quite reasonable. We are all completely skewed on what is important in life. If a child misses a couple of weeks of school but gets to experience an amazing holiday, probably learning a great deal in the process, and can spend quality time with their family away from the normal quite stressful environment...surely that is something we should all support? Families should be able to go away when they need to. I hope the schools do not enforce this ridiculous rule, although from reading the article it would appear that some schools do fine and others do not, which is obviously completely unfair.

    Report this comment

    Eye of Providence

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014

  • Hang on Golden One......"Interfering bunch of looney lefties!!"....we have a Tory Lib Dem Government who made this stupid law. They won't get my vote again!!

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Parents wouldn't have to take children out of school if holiday companies didn't increase their prices by hundreds sometimes a thousand pounds more just for the same holiday... And schools shouldn't fine the parents for holidays... It's ridiculous ...

    Report this comment

    tinks2100

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Sportswagon it should have nothing to do with the law. Its about doing what is right. Its the daft leftie philosophy of 'its not fair that I cant do what I want' that's to blame rather than any change to legislation. Some parents will take their kids anyway (usually the type of kids its nice for teachers to have a break from). Some wont. Always has been. Always will be. You even get holiday companies who state they will pay your fine for you.

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • The real issue here is that this precious Government doesn't live in our average world where £600 saved for a term time holiday means a lot...to them it's mere change!! Does a week away from school really impact a child's learning? Isn't a family holiday great for a child and their family? PATHETIC political postering.

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Well done to Thorpe school for having a sensible balanced approach. Judge each absence on its cause and circumstance. A family crisis, illness or bereavement could all cause children to miss valuable school time. Missing school in some circumstances for a family holiday may well do the children a great deal of good and improve their overall attendance or achievements. We had a good system prior to last September in which schools and head teachers could manage their pupils as was befitting each case. It seems to me that if left to the council they could try and turn this into another cash cow to supplement under funding. Please let us go back to how it was and let grown up’s manage their schools and look after their children.

    Report this comment

    J. Abbott

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Cant remember which but one of my kids mothers was going to be fined until she told them that magaluf has museums and things that are educational and the school backed down Just tell them youre going to be educating them.

    Report this comment

    ''V''

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Hang on Golden One......"Interfering bunch of looney lefties!!"....we have a Tory Lib Dem Government who made this stupid law. They won't get my vote again!!

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • I cannot see why the schools and councils do not use a simple solution to end all these fines for parents and encouraging the holiday companies to bump up the prices only in school holidays periods.Why dont they shorten the summer holidays period by 10 school days and grant 10 school days authorized absences to be taken in any term between september to july at any time.Then the pupils would do the 10 days at the end of the summer break and teachers would work a extra 10 days fantastic!!!!!! What a great solution.

    Report this comment

    solution man

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • This article is followed on the website by another about teachers going on strike. So fine teachers at £60 a child or don't fine anyone. The reality is that the responsible parents will pay the fine whereas persistent truant's parents don't pay anyway.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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