More than 3,000 parents fined over school absences in Sheffield last year

Parents can be fined up to 120 for taking their children out of school without authorisation from the headteacher

More than 3,000 fines were issued in Sheffield last year to parents whose children failed to attend school, new figures show.

Parents can be fined £60, increasing to £120 if they fail to pay within three weeks, for taking their children out of school during term time without the headteacher's consent.

In Sheffield, a Freedom of Information request reveals 3,067 such penalty notices were issued during the 2016/17 academic year - a big increase on the 2,310 handed out the previous year but slightly less than the 3,146 in 2014/15.

Last year, prosecution proceedings were launched against 347 parents for failing to pay an unauthorised absence fine, and 106 had been found guilty as of mid-December, though Sheffield Council said some cases were ongoing at the time.

In 2015/16, 253 parents were found guilty and in 2013/15 that figure was 175.

Sheffield Council's guidance says that headteachers have the discretion to grant leave during term time but should only do so in 'exceptional circumstances'.

Leave is unlikely to be granted for a family holiday, the document adds.

"There may be exceptional circumstances where leave in school term time may be granted. This would be decided by the headteacher on an individual basis for each

request," states the council policy.

"There is strong evidence to indicate that significant absence from school during term time can have a negative impact upon a child's attainment and learning."

In April, the Supreme Court ruled against a father on the Isle of Wight who challenged a £120 fine for taking his daughter out of primary school for an unauthorised holiday during term time.

How many parents have been fined in Sheffield?

Academic year // Fines issued for unauthorised school absence // Prosecution proceedings begun for non-payment // Parents found guilty // Claim withdrawn after prosecution proceedings launched

2016/17: 3,067 // 347 // 106 // 28 *

2015/16: 2,310 // 445 // 253 // 182

2014/15: 3,146 // 330 // 175 // 153

* outcomes not available for all cases, due to time frame

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