East Riding parents handed thousands of fines for children missing school

Parents in the East Riding were slapped with thousands of fines after their children missed school last year, new figures reveal.

Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 2:45 pm
3,782 penalty notices were issued to parents for a child’s poor attendance. Photo: PA Images

The Association of School and College Leaders says absence is not only disruptive to the pupil concerned but their peers and teachers as well, and has urged parents to follow the rules.

Department for Education data shows that 3,782 penalty notices were issued to East Riding parents for a child’s poor attendance in 2018-19 – a 22% rise on the previous school year.

The vast majority of these were handed out for an unauthorised family holiday​.

Over the same period, the rate of unauthorised absence – the proportion of all available half-day school periods missed without permission – rose marginally, from 1.1% to 1.2%.

Penalty notices are £60 if paid within 21 days of being issued – in the East Riding, 2,999 fines worth £179,940 were paid within this time.

239 fines issued in 2018-19 ended in prosecution.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of ASCL, said the significant number of fines showed the sanctions were an imperfect solution, but added that they were better than no deterrent at all.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said the real problem was holiday pricing.

A DfE spokeswoman said: “Local authorities now have greater clarity on when they can issue fines to parents who take their children out of school without good reason – and this is reflected in the increase.”

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