More parents in Norfolk and Suffolk fined for school absences than anywhere else in England
- Credit: PA
More parents in Norfolk and Suffolk were handed penalty notices for poor school attendance than any other part of England, new government figures have shown.
Suffolk issued 5,294 fines in 2014-15, with Norfolk just behind on 5,215. In contrast, only 3,928 were issued in the whole of north-east England.
Brian Conway, principal of Notre Dame High School in Norwich, said: 'The main reason is there was an attendance problem in Norfolk a few years ago, and the schools and the local authority responded quite strongly. It appears to work because we have had a really significant increase in attendance across Norfolk which seems to combine with the increase in standards across Norfolk schools.'
In September 2013, the government toughened rules on term-time holidays, and Norfolk County Council said it also issues fixed penalty notices if there has a been 15pc unauthorised absence rate over a six-week school period, or 10 consecutive sessions or more of unauthorised absence.
A spokesman said: 'We are pleased in Norfolk the additional rigour and improved processes implemented in recent years have ensured more children are experiencing increased attendance; clearly the first priority for achieving well at school is to be regularly attending and there is a pleasing correlation between these increases and increased performance across Norfolk schools regarding achievement and progress.'
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Suffolk County Council said the increased use of penalty notices was a result of schools asking it to stop issuing warning letters as they were seen as ineffective. He added this had 'contributed to the improved attendance performance'.
As well as issuing the most fines, Suffolk withdrew the most fines that should not have been issued.
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