June 25, 2022 7.00 am This story is over 24 months old

‘Still cheaper than a holiday’ – readers react to school fines plans

The government wants to even out the rules

The Lincolnite readers said fines for term time holidays would be “still cheaper than going in school holidays” after the government launched its latest consultation on Friday.

Parents whose children have five days of unauthorised absence or lateness within one term, take holidays during term-time, or are out in public during the first five days of an exclusion, will face a fixed penalty notice.

Fixed penalty notices are £120, reduced to £60 if paid within 21 days. Currently, each local authority decides when it will issue a fine, but the government wants to introduce national deadlines at which the penalty notice must be considered.

The government believes there is a ‘postcode lottery’ over how councils choose to deal with truancy, or absences ‘without good reason’ which includes holidays in term time.

Lincolnshire County Council’s local code of conduct says that currently the threshold for issuing a fine is a follows:

  • Where a child is absent from school due to unauthorised absence of 15% or above over a six week period. This will include lateness after the close of registration
  • Where a child is present in a public place during school hours without reasonable justification during the first five days of any exclusion

John O’Connor, head of education support at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Being in school not only helps children learn more effectively, but it also supports their emotional wellbeing and social development.

“The government is currently consulting on new regulations for managing school attendance, to improve consistency across England. This will replace local codes of conduct, and the council and local schools will need to follow this new guidance once it has been finalised.”

The government is inviting comments on two proposals from schools, academy trusts, and local authorities:

  1. Making school admissions registers electronic so it is easier for the data to be seen
  2. Changing how soon fines can be issued to parents

The government consultation will gather views on bringing attendance policies up-to-date and change limits of when fines can be issued. The consultation, available online here, will run until 11.30pm on July 29, 2022.

What do The Lincolnite readers think?

Karen Charters said: “Still cheaper than going in school holidays, so if my kids were still at school I’d be taking them out one or two weeks a year, isn’t going to harm. Only time I wouldn’t would be if they were in year 10 and 11.”

Karen James commented: “Who can afford to take their children on holiday during school holidays? My children are all grown up now and even we can’t afford the ridiculous hiked up prices during school holidays. And yes, we used to take our children out of school during term time for one week’s holiday a year.

“They are all now successful, working, responsible, well adjusted adults so it clearly didn’t do them any harm at all. This government have no idea about the struggles of normal, hard working people of this country.”

Jon Pym said: “Worth paying the fine to save school holiday prices.

Debbie Edison said: “It’s very unfair, lots of families can’t afford a holiday out of term because the airline and hotels etc charge top rates, when they play fair things might change.”

Mark Gringo-Priestley said: “Cheaper than the inflated prices holiday companies charge out of term times.”

Ricky Lynch said: “Pay the £120, still cheaper than going in August or half-terms.

Josie Taylor said: “Disgusting. Stop companies charging more during summer holidays and you won’t have a problem of parents taking kids out of school anymore.”

Chloe Miles said: “Children learn just as much outside the class room as in it! Should be down to the discretion of the headteacher as to how often the child has off school in general.”

Not everyone appears to be against the plans as Simon Brightey said: “I would double that to £240 that will make them think twice about going on holiday in school term.”

Kenneth Wilson argued: “What about when the teachers have a day off, will each parent get £120?”

Steve Kent said: “Let’s introduce the same attendance shaming for MPs.”