Parents fined for term-time holidays

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WIGAN parents are putting their children’s education over getting a cheap term-time holiday, new council figures reveal.

Data released by the town hall shows Wigan bucking the national trend and ensuring primary school pupils are not being taken out of the classroom when more affordable family breaks are available.

Wigan Council said it only had to issue three fines to parents for taking primary-aged children out of school last term, and has given out two financial sanctions so far this term.

The low figures come after a national newspaper survey found around 25 per cent of those asked said they had been forced to issue parents with fines for taking their children out of school to go away outside of the set holidays.

The Government has been clamping down on children missing out on parts of their education to go on family breaks, with legislation introduced in September ending the right of schools to grant up to 10 days’ leave for holidays.

Sue Astbury, assistant director for early intervention and prevention at Wigan Council, said: “For a number of years, Wigan borough has worked with schools to discourage parents and carers from removing their child during term-time, because of the detrimental impact poor attendance can have on a child’s learning and development. The authorisation of holidays in term time has previously been at the head teachers’ discretion, not a right and if taken is often recorded as unauthorised absence.

“Luckily, we haven’t had to issue many fines in Wigan as our parents recognise that their child’s education is more important than a cheap holiday.”

The changes introduced for this academic year mean headteachers can now only allow children to be away from the classroom in term time in exceptional circumstances.

Wigan Council and the borough’s schools have made attendance a key education priority for several years, with the latest Department for Education figures showing the area performs better than the average for England for tackling truancy.

Between September 2012 to March 2013 headteachers issued a total of 244 fines to parents, but this includes secondary as well as primary schools and it is not possible to say how many were due to unauthorised holidays.