Authorities Get Tough on Taking Kids Out of School During Term Time

Parents looking to take their kids out of school for a more affordable holiday during term time can now expect to be fined and potentially even prosecuted as a result.

Possible Prosecution for Parents

Education Minister Damian Hinds has announced that parents may face prosecution if fines for taking their children out of school go unpaid as the number of absentees in UK schools rises.

The Minister and the government have a stern belief that there needs to be a “deterrent” against parents allowing their children to be taken out of school for unnecessary reasons.

The Department of Education specified that fines would be considered if a pupil misses five days of school without proper authorization, with the current fines being raised by £20 a day. Previously starting at £60 and escalating to £120 if unpaid within 21 days, fines will now commence at £80 and rise to £160.

Head Teachers Union’s Perspective

A union representing head teachers has supported the need for fines to prevent potential “chaos” in schools and maintain order in the learning environment.

It is anticipated that these higher fines will be implemented from September, which is the start of the new school year as a surge in both absent school children and unpaid fines occurred in 2022-2023.

In the academic year 2022-23, nearly 400,000 penalty notices were issued to parents in England for unauthorized pupil absences, which some experts have put down to the pandemic as children and parents worked from home.

Mandatory Sharing of Attendance Registers

As part of comprehensive efforts to reduce the number of children regularly missing classes, every state school in England will be obligated to share their daily attendance registers with the Department for Education.

Hinds insisted that “There has to be a deterrent for taking children out of school unnecessarily during term times, because every day at school really, really matters.”

Hinds revealed how parents could even “face legal proceedings” and that it’s “a legal requirement to have a suitable education for your child” in a warning to parents if they continue to break the law.

Prevalence of Unauthorized Holidays

Approximately 89.3% of the fines last year were attributed to unauthorized holidays, reflecting a trend of families booking more affordable breaks during term times.

Critics argue that it’s simply too expensive to take their family on holiday outside of term times, arguing for travel companies to stop hiking up prices in the popular times of the year so that parents don’t feel forced to break the law.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan argued that the fines served one purpose, to keep kids in school, “If it’s a deliberate decision to take your child out of school for unauthorized absence, then that’s something we do not want to encourage,” she said.

Keegan also argued that in order for children to receive the “fantastic education” they deserve, “we have to get children back in school,” although this will affect children from lower-income families who may have to go without a holiday.

Mental Health Argument

Critics such as Geoff Barton of the Association of School and College Leaders, argue that many pupils are absent for serious conditions such as mental health, with parents not being given the support needed to keep them in school.

Barton also admitted that if everyone took holidays during term times, schools would be “chaos,” arguing that “Not only does it affect the child’s education, but it means teachers then have to spend time helping children to catch up with lost learning. 

The Liberal Democrats Party argued for an increase in mental health support in schools in the UK, insisting that schools should introduce a mandatory mental health practitioner to support children and potentially boost their attendance. 

Launch of Attendance Hubs

In 2021, “attendance hubs” were introduced, encouraging schools with high attendance records to share their strategies with similar institutions, the data is then shared with the government.

The government has put in place 32 attendance hubs across the country with the aim that the hubs can work together to figure out the best ways to keep attendance high, monitoring over 1 million students altogether. 

Parents have become less worried about attendance since the pandemic, with many believing that life is too short to worry about attendance every day after realising that family time is most important to them.

In the post-pandemic world, combined with a cost of living crisis, children are being taken out of schools for holidays to spend quality time with family at times during the term when travel costs are not hiked.

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The post Authorities Get Tough on Taking Kids Out of School During Term first appeared on Edge Media.

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