Rise in parents fined over holiday absences

holidays

The BBC News reported last week that the number of parents being fined for taking their child out of school for a holiday has risen dramatically. The number of fines, in England, at least, has increased by more than 70%.

Broughton Headteacher John Wilson had this to say about our situation locally:

‘The issue of persistent truancy has been devolved to individual Councils to pursue, and some parents have been fined for failing to manage their children’s attendance. Numbers are relatively low – I believe that last year the City of Edinburgh fined two families.

With regard to term-time holidays the Council provides clear guidelines on eligibility for these. Full information is available on the Council website (see the extract below) but in summary parents should only take their children for term time holidays in order to preserve family cohesion or in relation to serious illness. Requests for less than two weeks are presented to the Headteacher. I have to decline to authorise such requests on most occasions. However, the fact is that a Headteacher cannot actually stop a family from taking time out of school. Requests for longer than two weeks must be submitted to Waverley Court and are currently managed by Maria Plant, Inclusion Co-ordinator. I am not aware of any fines being levied on parents for unauthorised term-time leaves.’

Here is how the City of Edinburgh’s ‘Promoting Attendance and Managing Absence’ Procedure reads:

‘4.10 Family Holidays during Term Time

4.10.1 The majority of family holidays taken during term time should be categorised as Unauthorised Absence (code G). However, it is acceptable under exceptional circumstances, and provided the parent has made a written request to the Head Teacher, for schools to authorise a family holiday of not more than two weeks duration, during term time. Such circumstances may include:

A family holiday judged to be important to the wellbeing and cohesion of the family, following serious or terminal illness, bereavement or other traumatic events.

4.10.2 A family holiday classified under the ‘Authorised Absence (code E)” category should not include such reasons as:

The availability of cheap holidays

The availability of desired accommodation

Poor weather experienced during school holidays

Holidays which have overlap at the beginning or end of term

Parental difficulty obtaining leave (with local judgement applied in cases where evidence is provided by the employer that leave cannot be accommodated during school holidays without serious consequences).

4.10.3 Family holidays with the above or similar characteristics should be classified as Unauthorised Absence. The decision on recording absence as authorised and unauthorised, should be based simply on whether the school has given prior agreement to the absence or not, using the criteria outlined above. Where a school’s prior agreement has not been sought, the absence should automatically be classed as unauthorised.’

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