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Big rise in term time holiday fines in Cornwall

Big rise in term time holiday fines in Cornwall

Published by Emma Carton at 9:03am 22nd November 2018.

By Local Democracy Reporter, Richard Whitehouse

The number of parents in Cornwall fined for taking their children out of school to go on holiday has increased dramatically in a year.

Figures provided by Cornwall Council show that 374 penalty notices were issued in 2017/18, up from just five in the year before.

Schools and local authorities are allowed to issue fines to parents if they take their children out of school to go on holiday unauthorised.

The fines are usually around £60 for a week. In addition to fines issued for holiday absence, another 13 fines were issued for truancy.

Cornwall Council has also provided details of how many fines were paid with 321 being settled, 34 were unpaid, 14 were withdrawn, 34 were prosecuted and 18 are pending payment.

"Over the past 10 years (2017) school attendance levels in Cornwall have continued to increase, with pupil absence rates lower than the national average at primary and secondary level. (DFE statistics)

"We have a robust and fair code of conduct in place, and use a range of interventions to resolve poor attendance and only consider penalty notices after attempts to work with parents have been unsuccessful.".

"The council's protocol states a penalty notice may be issued after 10 unauthorised absences within 100 sessions.

"The head teacher makes the decision on whether to authorise an absence or not and whether to request a penalty notice.

"Following the High Court case in 2017 (Isle of Wight v Mr J Platt) we have included the need to formally show overall previous poor attendance that is below 90%"

"The local authority issues penalty notices on behalf of headteachers and it is a headteacher's individual decision as to whether to authorise term-time leave.

"The law allows them to do so if they deem it to be in 'exceptional circumstances'. There is no given definition on what these 'exceptional circumstances' are, but we continue to work with schools to advise them accordingly.

"We advise schools that if they wish to request PNs are issued as part of their overall drive to raise attendance, they must be consistent in doing so if the leave is marked down as unauthorised, but that they must also consider each request individually to decide whether there are exceptional circumstances.

"The 1996 Education Act makes it very clear that parents must ensure that their child of school age receives regular, full-time education. For most parents this is in school. Children must attend the school they are registered in. Only the school can authorise a child's absence".

Cornwall Council Statement

We also asked Cornwall Council how much money was received in school penalties last year and whether money from the fines goes back into school services but did not get a response.

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