Is it discriminatory to issue penalty notices for term time absence to both parents?

(72 Posts)
minisale Fri 05-Jul-13 13:28:21

Our LEA has a policy of issuing a fine to each parent for each child if you take them out of school for 5 consecutive days. So a two parent family will receive four penalty notices of £50 each while a single parent family will receive just two for the same act. The impact of taking the two children out of school is exactly the same. Is this discriminating against two parent families and therefore is it illegal for the County Council to implement this policy? Ideas, knowledge, experiences and views gratefully received.

TobyLerone Fri 05-Jul-13 13:34:46

I can't see how it's discriminatory confused

In both cases, each parent effectively gets two fines.

I would be incredibly pissed off, however, if my DCs' father decided to take them on holiday during term time and I got a fine for it. Not that that would happen, because I obviously wouldn't agree to it, but theoretically it could.

prh47bridge Fri 05-Jul-13 15:33:19

The law says they can do this. It is not illegal.

timidviper Fri 05-Jul-13 15:38:36

I think it may not be illegal but it is unfair.

School trips and other expenses are charged per child, imagine the outcry if children in a 2 parent family were charged double for a school trip. What about children who split their time between 2 parents who are both in new relationships do they get 4 fines? What a nonsensical policy!

The impact of the absence is the same regardless of the number of parents living at the home so I think the fine should be per child.

flowery Fri 05-Jul-13 16:34:26

Why wouldn't they fine both parents just because they aren't in a relationship?

prh47bridge Fri 05-Jul-13 17:59:00

timidviper - No there would not be 4 fines. Only parents can be fined.

The parent is committing the offence of failing to secure their child's attendance at the school. Both parents are guilty of that offence if the child is not attending. Why shouldn't they both be fined?

tiggytape Fri 05-Jul-13 18:52:11

The fine goes to the person (or people) with parental responsibility for the child who therefore have a legal responsibility to make sure their children attend school.

If a 2 parent family has 2 children each parent is legally responsible for 2 children so would get 2 lots of fines if those children missed school.

New partners and people without parental responsibility don't get fined because it isn't their job to make sure the children don't miss school.

TobyLerone Fri 05-Jul-13 19:01:34

It would make more sense if the fine were, say, £50, and they split it between everyone with PR. So if 1 person has PR, they pay £50. If 2 people have PR (either living together or apart), they pay £25 each.

Otherwise it just looks like a ridiculous money-spinning exercise...

Oh, wait.

flowery Fri 05-Jul-13 19:13:05

OP do you actually know they don't fine both parents if they don't happen to live together, or are you assuming?

tiggytape Fri 05-Jul-13 19:18:16

But it is an offence not to ensure your child attends school - that's the offence that you are fined for. Just because you are in a couple doesn't make you only half as responsible for your child as if you were a single parent.

Each person with parental responsibility for a child is committing an offence if they don't ensure they go to school.
Just like if 2 people went shop lifting together and got caught, they wouldn't get one fine to share between them, they'd get one each.

I work at the CAB and had a couple with three kids who had been taken abroad for five weeks - each been fined £60 each child, per parent. This wasn't paid and the fine was raised to £120 per child, per parent shock none negotiable and next step was Magistrares court.

I'm glad they don't get sent to the mum by default.

prh47bridge Sat 06-Jul-13 20:05:07

That is the same everywhere in England. The government sets the rules. From September the fine goes up from £60 to £120 if it is not paid within 21 days (currently you have 28 days to pay at the lower rate). If it remains unpaid after 28 days (42 days at the moment) the LA may prosecute.

I disagree with TobyLerone. As Tiggytape says, if you go shoplifting with your partner you will both be fined. You won't get one fine to split between you even though you would only have had to pay for the goods once. That isn't a ridiculous money-spinning exercise. You are still fully responsible for your actions (or lack of action) even if there is someone else involved.

If the child has an unauthorised absence both parents have committed an offence. I really can't see any reason why they shouldn't both be fined the full amount.

OddBoots Sat 06-Jul-13 20:10:37

I think the concept of it being a fine for breaking the law is being lost in the phrasing of some discussions where it is discussed as being part of a holiday cost. It isn't a 'time off school' ticket that can be bought.

xylem8 Sun 07-Jul-13 10:32:41

My youngest goes to a tiny rural primary miles from anywhere who are always wanting more pupils.I am planning to deregister them before we go and then re-register when we come back.

Which minority group would it be discriminating against? two parent families? hmm

It's fining everyone who has PR for the child, rather than just focussing on the "feckless mother". Good!

EliotNess Sun 07-Jul-13 10:37:29

no - in fact IME most go to parents who are split up.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sun 07-Jul-13 10:47:15

Xylem, you can only due register if you state which school they will be moving too...in my understanding. Unless you say you will be home educating.

Strikes me as a ridiculous thing to contemplate just to go on a holiday you could take at a different time.

What if the school does not accept your child back?

prh47bridge Sun 07-Jul-13 13:51:57

The school will have to accept xylem's child back if they have a space. However, if the school issues a penalty notice in these circumstances I would expect the LA and the courts to uphold it.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 07-Jul-13 13:59:59

Do NRPs get fined? How do they deal with totally absent parents, who never see their dc/pay maintenance, even though they have PR?

CloudsAndTrees Sun 07-Jul-13 15:37:30

No, it's not discriminatory. It's making both parents responsible for their children, which is a good thing.

If both parents have chosen to do something that could result in a fine,mother both of them should be fined!

MirandaWest Sun 07-Jul-13 15:55:45

I won't be taking the DC out of school and neither will XH but would both of us be fined if the other one did? We both have PR but I don't really see how one of us could prevent the other one if we were really determined to.

EliotNess Sun 07-Jul-13 16:01:06

Old lady. Dunno.

xylem8 Sun 07-Jul-13 16:04:32

prhbridge surely they cannot issue a notice to a child not even registered at tge school.

tiggytape Sun 07-Jul-13 16:20:28

You may dodge the fines issue by deregistering with the intention of re-registering later but you may also open up a whole new can of worms instead. There is a focus now on keeping an eye out for children suddenly disappearing from the state system. This is due to child protection issues. Unfortunately vulnerable children have fallen through the cracks in the past because their parents deregister them from school to remove them from the care (and scrutiny) of teachers and professionals. So if you do this suddenly, it may start alarm bells ringing.

Once satisfied that it is nothing dodgy, they will want to be satisfied instead that you are upholding your legal obligation to provide your child with an education after removal from school. Of course Home Ed doesn't have the same timetable restrictions as school but to removing a child from the education system entirely just for a holiday is such an OTT reaction that they may decide they need to look into what on earth is going on.

xylem8 Sun 07-Jul-13 18:13:21

It will only be 2 weeks! My DD was home educted for 6 months in the past and didn't hear a peep from the LEA.

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