OMG. Are these 'penalty notices' for taking children out of school in term time legally enforceable?

(768 Posts)
Utterlyastoundedmum Mon 22-Jul-13 14:53:42

Not interested in having a debate about whether it is 'right' to take a child out of schol, in term time for holidays etc. just wanting to know whether they can be enforced from a legal perspective.

I have just read the latest school newsletter and am to be honest, very annoyed indeed to find that as of September the school are changing its policy on authorising absences. Until now it's always been on a case by case basis but now they are saying no absence will be authorised whatsoever no matter what, except for one day for weddings ( with proof!)

The penalty is £60 or £120.

Not very fair on any parents such as myself who booked a holiday for a week in October as we really CANNOT get away in half term this year.

I will not be paying unless this is legally enforcible!!

mummymeister Tue 11-Mar-14 09:15:41

Meditrina. who you vote on to your council should have nothing to do with it. it is national legislation. that would be like saying that different police forces prosecute differently for speeding with one fining at 31pmh whilst others do at 36! already there are parents with 2 kids in 2 different schools in the same LEA where one head has granted leave as exceptional circumstances and the other hasn't. they are small sample findings but reflect what is being said here on MN. some are asking and getting holidays still others aren't being given the day off for a funeral or wedding. Its a messy picture because the legislation is messy and flawed. plus of course, you cant vote out a head teacher can you and it is they ultimately not the LEA that have the final decision. Or perhaps this is Gove's grand plan. make heads electable like police commissioners.

meditrina Tue 11-Mar-14 08:45:16

I did hear that two had - that's not postcode lottery in the usual sense though, that's the result of local democracy and who you vote onto your Council. It's not like when unelected bodies make decisions.

And yes, I agree these first small-sample findings may indeed be unrepresentative andthat it is therefore premature to draw conclusions from them (part of the reason I think the BBC reporting standard here is disappointing).

justtoomessy Tue 11-Mar-14 07:56:02

Its set by the government on good pay packets and children in private schools whose holidays are longer and have different rules. Its designed to stop the poorer classes from having the same kind of holiday.

I very, very much doubt that this rule would have been in place if they (the government) lived on minimum working wage and had to take their children on holidays during state school term times.

Keep the poor, poorer and less able to afford different holidays to more culturally diverse countries.

mummymeister Tue 11-Mar-14 07:40:05

Meditrina, did you miss the bit where two councils Richmond and another have given out no fines at all. this is the problem with it all. its a postcode lottery. depends where you live what your LEA and head teacher decide are exceptional circumstances. or are they saying no child across Richmond has gone on a holiday. Couldn't abide the pompous old git from Liverpool. yes attendance has gone up derrr but what about the cohort of pupils who have lots of short absences. the long standing tough nut. has it cracked that? no comment on that one I see. And again someone saying the holiday companies shouldn't charge more in school holidays. how many people just don't get supply and demand amazing. will be listening in later on

meditrina Tue 11-Mar-14 07:13:17

It only 'encourages' pupils to fraud if they are unlucky enough to have parents willing to lie to a fraudulent extent and the DC model that behaviour.

Beeb trailing next segment on this will be at 7:20. Still giving a rather poor account of what head's discretion means.

Their FOI request comparing Sept 2012 v Sept 2013 had 34 LA responses and showed the number of fines issued has increased (tending to agree on Bochead on why LAs embrace them though representative on Beeb said it was much more about keeping children in the school community every day).

What a meat-headed law.

Only encourages children (and GPs) to be party to yet more fraud.

Improves the three R's of no one.

sassytheFIRST Tue 11-Mar-14 06:39:26

Shiny, I know of one teacher who did what you suggest. She was caught, sacked and prosecuted for fraud by the school.

We just don't do it.

meditrina Tue 11-Mar-14 06:37:53

This story is running on BBC Breakfast today.

And not handled well - leave impression that fines are new (when they were introduced in 2003), not mentioning that HT's discretion continues to exist for every head, whilst quoting one HT who listed a huge number of factors which influenced how she exercised discretion (only the first of which was relevant to the change of rules - and which actually still exists).

Inaccurate, and disappointing from the BBC.

ilovesooty Mon 10-Mar-14 13:34:48

I've never known a teacher do what Shiny said. It's fraud and a sackable offence. And the strike action has no relevance to this situation.

In fact I think she's just being inflammatory.

winklewoman Mon 10-Mar-14 11:40:55

As there will inevitably be fewer families booking trips during the cheaper dates, the school holiday weeks will become even more expensive as the tour operators try to recoup their profits and there is more (reluctant) demand.

mummymeister Mon 10-Mar-14 11:11:06

Essiebee. you cannot campaign against holiday companies that is bonkers. it is supply and demand economics. why do prada handbags cost more than primark when the materials and labour (even the design) are similar. of course they increase their prices during holiday times. what would you have them do, charge the same year round?

43percentburnt Mon 10-Mar-14 10:40:29

The last week of term, July 2013 my daughter watched several DVDs and put up a wall display for the year 7 class. I take her on holiday in the school holidays. However I do feel a week with me in a European city would be far more educational. She had a lovely time at school that week, and learned nothing! Well except how to staple bits of paper onto a wall. I agree children should not miss school hence I take her on holiday in the holidays. But the last week of summer term appears to be a waste of time.

Essiebee Mon 10-Mar-14 10:33:09

Come to this late, life too short to read all the posts, but there seems to be little concern for the education children are missing whilst on holiday. Taking children out of school really does affect their education, particularly when new topics are introduced, and they are unsettled for several days when they return; many holidays are simply an extra week added on to a two week holiday or one of several holidays through the year. Because so many families take holidays in term time it has ended up penalising the families who struggle to afford one week at the end of the season in October and I feel really sorry for those children. It would be better to direct all this venom towards the holiday companies who deliberately increase their prices in school holiday time, and campaign against them rather than against policies which do have the education of children at their heart.

MyBodyIsAtemplate Mon 10-Mar-14 08:04:43

bochead agree with your post.

gordyslovesheep Mon 10-Mar-14 08:02:48

again because the fines have cock all to do with the school smile

winklewoman Mon 10-Mar-14 07:57:00

Ski holidays with parents in term time are now banned, yet schools are happy to arrange their own, expensive, versions in school time. How come these are 'educational' but family organised trips are not?

bochead Mon 10-Mar-14 07:25:36

Like parking tickets, now councils have cottoned onto this new income stream - they won't give it up without a fight!

Of course if it takes the council 6 months to find a school place for a child new to the area, or in a bulge year, then that's an entirely different matter!

It's such a shame as it risks damaging the relationship between school staff and parents. Supportive parents has been shown in study, after study to be THE most important factor for educational success.

meditrina Mon 10-Mar-14 07:18:06

Not much point in "moaning" at Gove for something that was brought in in 2003. As the introduction of fines was not "his" policy (nor indeed Tory policy), then it should be one of the areas in which the current government is more open to persuasion.

Pooka Mon 10-Mar-14 07:17:20

Why do you think that's relevant?

It's not the teachers coming down hard on absence for holidays. It's not the teachers enforcing penalty charges or
Imposing them. It's a central government decision.

So your assertion that teachers pull a sickie to go on holiday (which I've never come across at the dc's school) or that they go on strike willy nilly has nothing to do with the use of penalty charges to 'punish' term time absence.

Morgause Mon 10-Mar-14 07:15:22

I don't know of any teachers who would do that, Shiny. Far too easily checked up on.

Plus, it isn't teachers who decided to fine parents, it was the government. No point in moaning at the teachers. Have a word with Michael Gove if you think it's wrong.

Shiny2508 Mon 10-Mar-14 07:12:09

There are some very naive comments on here. I know a few teachers that have been 'ill' for a week in order to take a cheap holiday! What about the educational days lost due to their strike action which in turn leads to added expense for the parent who either has to pay for child care or take an a day off work, usually unpaid!

luckyjazz Thu 23-Jan-14 11:27:06

This doesn't apply here in Scotland (yet) thank goodness, but just wondering for everyone stating that a holiday is not educational why do most of the schools in my area have a Primary 7 trip for a week to Disneyland or similar?

Surely the school must feel this is an educational trip or why would they be going??

gaba Tue 14-Jan-14 13:27:00

My kids have spent 6 months off school, because there are no schools available in my area...

Can I send a fine to my LEA, because they cannot get their finger out of it , or doesn't it work that way?

It's funny 6 months no school and the truancy ticket warden has only called once, I goaded her a little on the phone, and she hasn't bothered since.

Funny how when its their fault they don't get so excited about how unacceptable missing just one days education is.

gerait Sat 11-Jan-14 12:41:01

Wow loads of trolls here, some just making arguments for no reason, mostly I have seen the trolls in favour for fines and no holidays for working classes, Middle class trolls?

Also just for fun go on the Wiltshire council website this is explaining the fines directly quoted off http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/schoolseducationandlearning/schoolsandcolleges/parentadvice/studentbehaviour/truancy/educationwelfareservicepenaltynotice.htm

"What is the cost?

The penalty is £120 per child per parent it paid within 28 days, the is reduced to £60 per child per parent if paid within the first 21 days.

If you do not pay the fine within 28 days the local authority has no option but to prosecute you in the Magistrates’ Court. This could lead to a fine of up to £1000 per parent per child."

Is this meant to show us what going to school and not being absent does to your brain? I am no English language expert (tbh i am quite bad at it) but I tried to read the fist sentence out loud to my partner and stopped at "it". Yes just two mistakes but on the council website explaining fines for not being at school?

jasminerose Thu 26-Sep-13 20:32:20

It definitely isnt even slightly denting the amount of people taking term time holidays, still miles cheaper.

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