Magistrates fine parents for taking children on holiday during term time

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Continued non-payment could result in the fine being increased up to £2500, a community sentence or even imprisonment of up to 3 months being imposed.

Author: Dennis Chapman
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This article is 8 years old.

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Like many of us, taking the family holiday during the school holiday periods can add considerable amounts to the travel and accommodation costs.

From September 2013, the law changed. Before this date, Head Teachers could grant up to 10 days absence for “special” circumstances.  From that date however, Heads can only grant time away from school during term time for “exceptional” circumstances.  Penalty Notices of £50 to £100 can be imposed on parents who don’t seek or obtain consent from the school.  

However, in a recent case, parents were fined £360 in court by Magistrates for taking their children out of school for a week, but, due to its non-payment within 21 days, the fine was increased and with legal costs added the amount has now reached almost £1000.  Continued non-payment could result in the fine being increased up to £2500, a community sentence or even imprisonment of up to 3 months being imposed.

Ironically, in that case, the defendant parent admitted that he decided to take a family holiday because of problems with his eldest daughter, whose behaviour and school attendance had deteriorated.  So their answer to prevent failing school attendance was to take the child out of school for even longer! It raises the separate issue of the rights of the parents to judge how to handle their children set against the demands of the Headmaster and the law.

So, if you are planning an out of term holiday with the children – ask the school first.  But remember, you will have to show that the reason for doing so is due to an “exceptional circumstance”.  Of course, what constitutes “exceptional” will vary considerably from one Head Teacher to another…..

We wonder who decides when the Heads want to take their children on holiday in the middle of June and not the middle of August!

Dennis Chapman

In remembrance of Dennis Chapman 1951 -2015

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