Parents campaign for two week term-time holidays

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A Doncaster dad fined for taking his three sons on holiday in term time has backed a nationwide petition calling for parents to be given the right to take their children out of school for two weeks a year.

Tim Mettam, aged 43, said: “Myself and my wife, Karen, both support the petition as I think it’s very important for parents to have had freedom of choice for their children.”

The online petition has already been signed by more than 88,000 people.

If it gains 100,000 signatures or more the topic will be considered for debate in parliament.

All petitions which have more than 10,000 supporters will receive a response from the Government

Tim, a painter and decorator, from Balby, added: “Time away is essential for families.

“If the only way is taking them out of school due to finance or job circumstances then as long as the child had good attendance and their work is brought up to date I don’t think they should be penalised.”

Tim and Karen have previously been fined £360 for taking their children, Jamie, 14, Daniel, 13 and Joshua, 12, on holiday in school time – but he insists they would do it again.

Under tougher rules brought in by the Department for Education two years ago, headteachers can only approve holidays in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Parents who do not have a school’s permission for their child’s absence face a maximum fine of £60 per pupil, per parent.

A total of 3,378 mums and dads were handed fines by Doncaster Council for unauthorised absences between 2014/2015.

Those who refuse to pay the fine can face court action, a fine of up to £2,500 and a possible jail sentence of up to three months.

Jo Moxon, Doncaster Council assistant director of learning and achievement, said: “Government has made it clear that schools should only agree absence for holidays in exceptional circumstances.

“Schools decide whether parents should be given a fixed penalty notice and it is the council’s responsibility to issue and collect the fines.”

Information on the council website states: “Every school day counts towards your child’s future. Days off school add up to lost learning.

“In total there are 175 non-school days a year.

“This gives families the opportunity to spend time together, go on family visits, go on holiday, go on days out and attend routine appointments.

“The law says that parents do not have the right to take their child out of school for holidays during term time.

“If you take your child on holiday during term-time without the schools permission this will be recorded as unauthorised absence.”

The petition will be open for people to sign until February 14 2016.

n To see the petition online go at www.petition.parliament.uk/petitions/106133.