Drayton parents fined for school term time holiday vow to help other families facing court

Andrew and Tracey Buckett with their children Thomas, 10, Jess, 13, and Noah, 7. Picture : ANTONY KE

Andrew and Tracey Buckett with their children Thomas, 10, Jess, 13, and Noah, 7. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

Parents from Drayton who ended up in court after taking their children on holiday in school time have vowed to support other families in the same position.

Andrew and Tracey Buckett took their three children out of school for five days for a holiday to Portgual last October.

Booking in term time saved them £1,500 and meant their seven-year-old son Noah, who has learning difficulties, could cope more easily with crowds and heat.

But they received fines from Taverham Junior and High Schools, where their other two children attend, and, after refusing to pay, were taken to court on Thursday - when they were ordered to pay £450.

Mr Buckett said they now hope to offer support and advice to other local parents facing fines.

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'If you have always been a law-abiding citizen and you find yourself hauled through the courts system for taking your children on holiday, it can be quite a daunting prospect,' he said.

'We'd like to be able to offer our support and even turn up on the day. There were times we didn't feel like we were listened to, so it would be nice to help other parents avoid that.'

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He said he hoped to write to MPs to encourage them to fight for more regulation for holiday firms which hike up prices during the school holidays.

Often, family breaks in August - compared to just a few weeks either side - cost thousands of pounds more.

'This blanket approach is not working,' he said. 'It needs to be about the individual child and what works for them. This was a well-deserved break for my children.'

Though he was taken to court, Mr Buckett said he considered his case a success. Though the family was charged £450, when the original fine doubled after 21 days, they would have paid £120 per child per parent - £480.

Paul Stanley, headteacher at Taverham Junior School, tried to reverse his decision to fine, but was told by Norfolk County Council the case did not meet the criteria for withdrawal.

A spokesperson for the council said there is a 'clear link' between attendance and education and that it is headteachers who ultimately decide on whether to take action on absences.

• Have you been affected by the issues? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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