Parents pay price for holidays in term time

News story
News story

SCORES of Wigan parents are flaunting the law and taking their children on holiday during term time.

But the borough is at least bucking the national trend because a huge leap in local authority prosecutions nationwide isn’t reflected locally.

Latest figures show that 34 parents and guardians have been summoned to appear before Magistrates because of un authorised absence by their children this year – largely unchanged from 2012 /13.

And council director of children and young people Anne Goldsmith believes schools across the borough generally had a “good level” of pupil attendance and work well with the authority.

And parents here were continuing to improve on this. She said: “Good school attendance is fundamental to the achievement of better outcomes for children and young people and it’s an issue we take seriously.

“We are reinforcing this to parents who may be considering a holiday during term time, by raising awareness of the impact on their child’s learning when they miss school.

“Unlike many local authorities, we issue warnings to parents in the first instance and have found that most are responsive to this.

“If parents do not respond positively to the warning we are required to issue a fine.”

She added that clear guidance was available for parents from schools on the circumstances in which their child may be granted a period of absence during term time.

Nationally there has been a rise of about 70 per cent in prosecutions. The ban has drawn opposition from parents, with hundreds of thousands signing petitions against the new rules and calling for the government to take action against holiday companies who raise their prices at peak times.

Parents are fined £60 per parent per child per period of absence, which rises to £120 if not paid within 21 days.

Some fines will have been for truancy or repeated poor attendance, but most were for parents who took children on holiday during term time.

New regulations introduced last September mean that school heads can no longer grant 10 days’ holiday “in special circumstances”.

However, they can still allow extended leave for more than 10 school days in “exceptional” circumstances, subject to strict rules.