Penalty notices soar for term-time holidays

The number of penalty notices issued against parents for taking their kids out of school for holidays has rocketed.

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The number of penalty notices issued to parents for unauthorised absences has increased by 74.7 per cent in the latest year with most due to term-time holidays, according to Government statistics.

A report from the Department for Education shows that the number of penalty notices rose from 149,300 in 2016/17 to 260,900 in 2017/18, although the number of unauthorised absences for term-time holidays has remained more of less the same.

The report says amendments to regulations and a number of high profile court cases may have affected trends in recent years. In 2017,  following magistrates court and high court rulings in favour of a parent, the Supreme Court ruled that no children should be taken out of school without good reason and clarified that ‘regularly’ means ‘in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school’.

Some 85.4 per cent of all penalty notices were issued for unauthorised family holiday absence in 2017/18, up from 77.5 per cent in 2016/17. 0.2 per cent were issued for arriving late and 14.3 per cent were issued for other unauthorised absence. Three quarters of penalty Notices issued in 2017/18 were paid within 28 days. 10% were withdrawn and 7% led to prosecutions.

The unauthorised absence rate in state-funded primary, state-funded secondary and special schools was 1.4 per cent in 2017/18, an increase from 1.3 per cent in 2016/17 – the rate of unauthorised holiday absence remained steady at 0.4 per cent.

Penalty notices are issued to parents by schools, local authorities or the police for failing to ensure that their child of compulsory school age regularly attends the state-funded school where they are registered or at the place where alternative provision is provided for them. The amount payable under a penalty notice is £60 if paid within 21 days of receipt rising to £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days. If the penalty is not paid in full by the end of the 28 day period, the local authority must either prosecute for the original offence, or withdraw the notice.


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