The rise in cases against British parents follows a crackdown on children missing school, including new rules on term time holidays which were introduced two years ago…reports Asian Lite News
In 2014, 16,430 people were prosecuted for failing to ensure their children went toschool, an increase of more than 3,000 – or 25% – on 2013. Ministry of Justice figures, obtained by the Press Association, revealed more than three-quarters were found guilty. Head teachers’ leaders said good attendance was “absolutely critical”.
The rise follows a crackdown on children missing school, including new rules on term time holidays which were introduced two years ago.
Parents can be issued with on-the-spot penalty notices of £60 per child by schools, rising to £120 if unpaid after three weeks, if their child has an unauthorised absence.
Failure to pay, or incurring two or more fines, can lead to parents being referred to the local authority’s education welfare service, which has the power to take them to court.
Courts can issue maximum fines of £2,500 or jail sentences of up to three months.
“Good attendance is absolutely critical to the education and future prospects of young people,” according to Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, reports the BBC.
“Schools have rightly responded to this overwhelming evidence by taking a strong line in identifying when children are absent without a valid reason, particularly where there is persistent truancy.”
The Department for Education said it was a myth that missing school, even for a short time, was 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,” a spokesman told the BBC.
“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.”
But David Simmonds, of the Local Government Association, told the BBC the increase in fines reflected “tighter enforcement by schools that are under pressure from Ofsted to meet attendance targets”, as well as a rising school population.
He called for more flexibility in the rules to allow heads to take account of family circumstances where absence was unavoidable.
They “should be trusted to make decisions about a child’s absence from school without being forced to issue fines and start prosecutions in situations where they believe the absence is reasonable”, he said.