More Doncaster parents fined for taking children on holiday during term-time

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More than 2,000 fines were handed out to parents in Doncaster for taking their children out of school during term time in the past academic year.

An investigation by the Press Association reveals that soaring numbers of families are being penalised, amid concerns that they are being ‘criminalised’.

The number of fines given to parents for taking their children on holiday during term time has almost trebled in two years across the country.

Doncaster had some of highest rates around the country, with the former the second highest nationally, with 2,177 fines handed out.

In Derbyshire, 2,354 fines were issued.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that in the last academic year alone, at least 50,414 penalty notices were issued due to children being taken out of lessons for trips.

This is up 25 per cent on the year before, when at least 40,218 penalties were given out, and up 173 per cent from the 18,484 fines handed out by local authorities in 2012/13.

Councils said schools across the country have been handing out more fines as part of a crackdown by the Department for Education and regulators Ofsted on term time absences.

Ministers have argued that missing any amount of school is detrimental to a child’s education, but school absence reforms introduced in 2013 have proved controversial, with critics arguing that they have the biggest impact on those who cannot afford high travel costs during school breaks and families with parents that work shifts.

The future of holiday fines was thrown into question last week when a father won a court battle after refusing to pay a £120 fine for taking his six year-old daughter out of school to go to Disney World, Florida.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “It is a myth that missing school even for a short time is harmless to a child’s education.

“Our evidence shows missing the equivalent of just one week a year from school can mean a child is significantly less likely to achieve good GCSE grades, having a lasting effect on their life chances.”