74,000 parents hit with £4.5m fines for term-time holidays

Parents have been fined over holidaysParents have been fined over holidays
Parents have been fined over holidays
More than 74,000 parents were hit with £4.5 million worth of fines for taking their children on holiday during term time in the last school year.

The number of parents falling foul of the draconian rules has soared by 55 per cent on the previous school year of 2013 to 2014. And it could actually be as high as 100,000 as not all councils responded to a request for information.

After a recent High Court ruling parents have been left bemused as to whether it’s legal to take their children out of school.

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The recent ruling unveiled that children were allowed to be taken out of school during term-time holiday provided that they have a good attendance record.

However, schools minister, Nick Gibb, has advised headteachers to dismiss the ruling and continue to enforce fines on parents.

As a result of the initial ruling, it is considered that parents are now more likely to take their children on holiday during term-time.

But two thirds were still confused about the position and if they will be given a £60 fine for each child.

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Around 1.7 million parents - over a fifth (21 per cent) are planning to take a term-time holiday in the next school year.

However, local education authorities plan to slap an increasing number of fines on parents who continue to take their children out of school.

The exceptions are North Tyneside Council, Milton Keynes Council, Warrington Borough Council and London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, who are more lenient.

The latest figures come as a petition to end the fines has gathered more than 175,000 signatures.

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The petition, lodged with Parliament, was set up by Dave Hedley, whose family has run foul of the rules. In it he calls for the fines to be abolished and the reintroduction of a ten-day authorised absence. So far it has gather 178,866 signatures.

Holidays taken during term-time are considerably cheaper than during the school holidays, explaining the rising numbers of parents prepared to run the risk of a fine.

Current rules stipulate that parents are only able to take their child on holiday during term-time if they make a successful application to the headteacher ahead of the trip, or if there are ‘”exceptional circumstances”.

If neither of these applies, then parents can be subject to a £60 fine from their local council - which doubles to £120 if it isn’t paid within three weeks.

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Nikki Sellers, head of travel Insurance at esure who carried out the research, said: “It’s no wonder parents are feeling confused when they’re finding themselves hearing contradictory messages.

“On one hand, they see a father told that he was allowed to take his child on holiday, while some local councils are still enforcing fines on those who do this.”

Esure made a Freedom of Information request to all 151 local education authorities in the UK in May 2016 and 70 per cent replied.