Numbers up for Batley pupil holiday absences fines

Councillor Peter O'Neill
Councillor Peter O'Neill

The number of parents fined for their children’s unauthorised absence from school has tripled since a new ‘zero tolerance’ approach on term-time family holidays was introduced.

Figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, show the tougher stance has been applied by schools – but for many parents trying to avoid higher travel costs during normal school holidays, it has not been a deterrent.

Between September 1 and December 31 last year, 45 penalty notices were issued to Batley parents, compared to just 14 in the same time period the previous year.

Every local authority was told to clamp down on the number of children who are off school in term time by saying ‘no’ to all without exceptional circumstances.

Debates continue to rage on over whether parents should take children out of school during term time.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said it is wrong for parents to take children out of school and that parents should lobby their schools to change their term times instead.

There were 17,636 school sessions missed in Batley’s schools because of unauthorised absences in the last school year.

Of those absences, 6,477 – 37 per cent – were because of family holidays.

Coun Peter O’Neill (Lab, Batley West) said: “There has been a fall in the amount of unauthorised absence due to term-time holidays in Kirklees and we will continue working closely with local schools.

“Pupils and families are aware of attendance levels as, clearly, there can be major disadvantages in being absent from school.

“We do sympathise with families who find it difficult to pay the extra money that’s often involved in going away during the school holidays.

“At the same time, we have to bear in mind that absence from school can affect educational attainment and future opportunities.”