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OMG. Are these 'penalty notices' for taking children out of school in term time legally enforceable?

(768 Posts)
Utterlyastoundedmum Mon 22-Jul-13 14:53:42

Not interested in having a debate about whether it is 'right' to take a child out of schol, in term time for holidays etc. just wanting to know whether they can be enforced from a legal perspective.

I have just read the latest school newsletter and am to be honest, very annoyed indeed to find that as of September the school are changing its policy on authorising absences. Until now it's always been on a case by case basis but now they are saying no absence will be authorised whatsoever no matter what, except for one day for weddings ( with proof!)

The penalty is £60 or £120.

Not very fair on any parents such as myself who booked a holiday for a week in October as we really CANNOT get away in half term this year.

I will not be paying unless this is legally enforcible!!

secretscwirrels Mon 22-Jul-13 14:56:01

Yes they are and if you don't pay they can increase or take you to court. It is not the school who impose the fine it is the LEA. The school are just applying the law where they haven't before.
Magistrates take a dim view round here.

Utterlyastoundedmum Mon 22-Jul-13 14:57:44

Bloody great.
So last years parent get off Scott free and anyone who booked a holiday on this basis find they are 'fined' like a bloody criminal!

arabesque Mon 22-Jul-13 14:58:37

Wow, I live in Ireland and that seems a bit draconian shock.

PrettyKitty1986 Mon 22-Jul-13 15:00:17

If this is standard across the UK then I foresee both of my ds's having a nasty bug for a week next June grin

XBenedict Mon 22-Jul-13 15:00:34

Yes it is legally enforcable, has happened a couple times locally.

arabesque Mon 22-Jul-13 15:02:01

You would probably lose more money by cancelling the holiday than paying the fine.

misterioso Mon 22-Jul-13 15:02:47

It has been on the cards since Easter OP, where have you been. It was well documented on the news.
So sorry for you though, what are you going to do.
Maybe speak to your head, and beg.

KellyElly Mon 22-Jul-13 15:03:34

Is it a one off payment for the entire holiday or per day, per week??

5madthings Mon 22-Jul-13 15:05:45

You can request time off and see if it classes as 'exceptional circumstances' it is up to the ht to decide.

We applied for time off in sept as dp can't get time off work in school holidays (we have a letter from his employer confirming this) that counted as exceptional. But its totally up to the individual head teachers.

Not sure who decides if a fine will be given, the school or the local authority? Ours only seems to fine if you have a poor attendance record/persistent offender.

colleysmill Mon 22-Jul-13 15:05:52

Just curious but does that include medical appointments or are they different?

Admiraltea Mon 22-Jul-13 15:06:35

Round here i understand it to be £60 per child per parent so 2 kids = £240.
Also seem to remember Gove intending to make absences need a doctors cert similar to employment requirements...otherwise assumption will be unauthorised so liable for fine.
Got to finance Free Schools somehow. hmm

meditrina Mon 22-Jul-13 15:06:47

Fines were introduced by Labour in the 2003 Antisocial Behaviour Act. If you do not pay, then you can be taken to Court (penalty increases to about the £2k mark), and non-payment of a Court fine can lead to imprisonment (which certainly happened under the last Government).

secretscwirrels Mon 22-Jul-13 15:07:46

Like I said it's not new it's been in legislation for years but not enforced in all areas.
The fine is per parent per child so £120 per child per week in a two parent home.
I'm a school governor and we were told by the head about 4 years ago that he had strict orders from the LEA to apply the rules. No term time holidays except for very exceptional cases (I can think of a forces family where dad came home on leave in term time, for example).
I believe the government has now removed what little discretion there was.
A friend who is a magistrate said they had several repeat offenders, mainly MC families taking DC skiing in term time and they used their discretion to apply maximum fine.

josephinebruce Mon 22-Jul-13 15:07:57

Yep. Legally enforceable and thank god :-)

OddBoots Mon 22-Jul-13 15:11:13

The letter we had about it also said that sicknesses needs to be phoned in daily and for the parents to bring in a note to school on the third day or the EWO could be contacted to pay a visit. I guess to stop people claiming sickness for a holiday.

Dahlen Mon 22-Jul-13 15:15:04

I have very mixed feelings about this. I think it should continue to be applied on a discretionary basis.

I have family in Australia. For health reasons I have to go there rather than them coming here. Going over there wouldn't be a "jolly" and there is enormous educational potential in the experience. My DC are in the top of their year and I would be happy to take some work away to ensure they didn't slip behind. There is no way at all that they would be disadvantaged educationally from taking a trip, whereas they would be denied a fantastic opportunity plus the chance to maintain links with their biological family under this ruling.

Dahlen Mon 22-Jul-13 15:15:58

Although given "the right to family life" under EU legislation, a legal challenge could be mounted as schools could be argued to interfere with it on that basis.

Travelledtheworld Mon 22-Jul-13 15:16:05

We had a similar email from the school and yes, it is a new Dept of Education policy which schools are expected to abide by and local authorities to enforce.
I am told that Unauthorised Absences from school are seen as truancy and so large numbers of middle class kids bunking off to go skiing outside the highly priced half term weeks reflects very badly on school attendance records.
I wonder what sort of proof you have to provide for a funeral ?

LadyBryan Mon 22-Jul-13 15:18:22

I suppose though, even if it were under your school's old "case by case" basis, you have booked a holiday and assumed that you would be given permission and have taken that risk.

I'm all for the fine.

Inncogneetow Mon 22-Jul-13 15:19:12

Our HT sent letter that they would honour the agreement for holidays which had already been approved. So if you've already had permission from the school OP, then you may be OK.

PrettyKitty1986 Mon 22-Jul-13 15:24:20

Parents should have the discretion to remove their children for a week or two without jumping through hoops.

I would happily phone in every day for a week saying they were Ill to avoid a fine too. IMO holidays can be hugely educational experiences and we wouldn't be able to afford the holidays we go on if we were limited to school holidays.

josephinebruce Mon 22-Jul-13 15:32:06

Holidays are a luxury. Bollocks are they educational!!!

giddywithglee Mon 22-Jul-13 15:35:36

Imagine if teachers started taking time off in term time because their partners can't get time off in the school holiday period and otherwise they won't get a holiday?

OddBoots Mon 22-Jul-13 15:36:41

I'm not too sure right to family life would be applicable - there are plenty of school holidays if you choose to educate by state school and it is perfectly legal for employers (including schools/LEAs) to restrict holidays to particular times.

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