Sheffield parents face £126,000 fines for taking children on holiday in term time

A generic Photo of a mother on holiday wth her two children: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos
A generic Photo of a mother on holiday wth her two children: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos
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More than 2,000 fines totalling in excess of £126,000 were handed out in Sheffield for taking children on holiday in term time last year.

Sheffield Council issued 2,103 penalty notices in 2014/15 for removing children from school for a vacation – with another 345 fines still being processed.

A generic photo of children enjoying a swimming pool: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

A generic photo of children enjoying a swimming pool: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

The figures are an increase on the last school year when 1,196 fines were issued.

The authority warned that some parents are choosing to pay the fine as it was the only way they could afford to go on a family holiday.

It called on the Government to put pressure on the travel companies to bring down their prices during school holidays.

The council also issued 73 penalty notices for irregular attendances – a 50 per cent reduction on the 144 handed out the year before.

School girls sit out

School girls sit out

Nationally, 16,430 people in England were prosecuted for failing to ensure a child went to school in 2014 – equivalent to around 86 cases each day of the school year.

The hikes come in the wake of a major crackdown on children missing school, including strict new rules on term-time holidays introduced two years ago.

Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield Council cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “Research shows that children who spend more time in education achieve better results, so we work closely with schools to improve pupils’ attendance.

“Our big ambition is that all Sheffield children, young people and families achieve their full potential and attending school every day is an important part in this.

“However we fully understand the difficulties families face through inflated holiday costs outside term-time.

“Parents tell us that, even after paying a fine, the cost of a holiday that starts in term time is still much cheaper than school holiday prices – and often means they can go away which many couldn’t if they had to pay the inflated prices.

“This simply isn’t right which is why we have called on the Government to take action on this with the holiday industry and travel companies.

“We want them to use the influence they have to stop the practice of prices for holidays going up by extortionate amounts, to give families a better and fairer deal.

“Since the government brought in tougher rules and introduced new laws in 2013 the number of penalty notices have risen.

“In line with government regulations the money from the fines is used to help increase attendance rates.”

Parents who take children out of school without permission can face a £60 fine per child, rising to £120 if it is not paid within 21 days.

Those who fail to pay may be prosecuted, with a maximum fine of £2,500 or up to three months in jail.

A Department for Education spokesman said the latest figures show that heads and teachers are back in charge of their classrooms.

He 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 a quarter less likely to achieve good GCSE grades, having a lasting effect on their life chances.

“Heads and teachers are now firmly back in charge of their classrooms, and most recent figures show we have made real progress – with 200,000 fewer pupils regularly missing school compared with five years ago.”