Essex sees more fines on parents for taking children out of school than anywhere else in the country

Education: Secondary / Sat 13th Jan 2024 at 10:41am

ESSEX has seen more fines on parents for taking their children out of school than anywhere else in the country reports

Essex County Council imposed a record 12,017 fines on parents for taking their children out of school without permission for holidays in 2022/23.

That is up from the 1,218 in 2020/21 and the 6,828 imposed in 21/22.

It is significantly up from the pre-Covid levels seen in 2018/19 when Essex County Council imposed 9,609 fines on people taking children on holiday in term-time without permission.

Altogether there were 12953 fines in total covering all types of breaches – equivalent to a rate of with a rate 6.6 fines per per 100 enrolments. This is compared to Doncaster Council which issued 16.2 fines for every 100 pupils in the area, and just 0.2 fines issued for every 100 pupils in Cumbria.

Nationally, a record number of parents were fined for their children’s absence from school last year – mainly because of term-time holidays.

The latest statistics from the Department for Education reveal that nearly 400,000 penalty notices were issued to parents in the 2022/23 school year.

That was up massively from just 220,000 the year before – an 83% increase – and was the highest number ever recorded.

More than 356,000 of those fines were due to unauthorised term-time holidays, again a record high, while just under 1,000 were due to late attendance, and around 42,000 were for other reasons.

Parents have a legal duty to make sure their child attends school, and if they don’t they can be issued a £60 fine that must be paid within 21 days, otherwise the amount increases to £120.

If still unpaid after 28 days, the parents can be taken to court, where they can face fines of up to £2,500 or a three month prison sentence.

The county council says Essex is one of the largest authorities in the country and therefore the number of fines issued should reflect this.

Councillor Tony Ball, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Lifelong Learning and Employability, said: “Parents have a legal duty to ensure their children attend school regularly in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school.

“It is the expectation of the Department for Education that parents and carers will initially work together with schools and support agencies to improve a child’s school attendance. Where parents choose to take holidays during term time, Headteachers may choose to request that penalty notice fines are issued by the local authority in line with our published local code of conduct. During the academic year 2022/23, Headteachers requested a record number of penalty notice fines via the local authority.

“Every lesson really does count, and it is important that parents send their child to school so they can access and enjoy all the educational opportunities and experiences and ensure they get the best start to academic life.”

The Government has said driving up attendance and tackling persistent absence is at the centre of new stronger measures launched today as pupils return to school.
There will be 18 new attendance hubs across 6 regions, bringing the total to 32 and will see nearly 2,000 schools helped to tackle persistent absence.
Commenting on the Secretary of State for Education’s statement on January 8 on the Government’s plans to reduce absence from schools, Jessica Prestidge, Deputy Policy Director of the Centre for Social Justice said Government action continues to fall short.

“The Education Secretary has said that tackling school absence is her number one priority, but the expanded pilot will reach just three per cent of severely absent children at most in 2024/25.

“With severe absence back at record highs, and one in five children persistently absent, much more is needed. The Government must rebuild the fractured relationship between parents and schools, starting with a National Parental Participation Strategy. Attendance mentors must be rolled out nationwide as a matter of urgency. And Department for Education guidance on attendance should be made statutory.

“Our latest polling by YouGov suggests nearly one in five parents are worried about their child’s attendance and want more support from school, rising to nearly a quarter of parents on low incomes.

“Only a quarter of parents said their child’s school communicates with them very well, compared with nearly 40 per cent who say communication is not good enough.

“The consequences of so many children missing so much school will only result in unfulfilled lives, fractured communities, and spiralling costs to the taxpayer for picking up the pieces. The Government urgently needs to get to grip with the unfolding crisis of school absence.“

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6 Comments for Essex sees more fines on parents for taking children out of school than anywhere else in the country:

Luke Burton
2024-01-13 11:24:35

No surprise there. The good people of Essex prioritising a trip to Spain over their child's education because of course they'll grow up being a television or TikTok star - so what use would a GCSE in Maths be!

2024-01-13 11:29:58

To be honest this is not surprising the schools were effectively closed and most kids got poor education in lockdown. I know teachers will be along soon to try and justify their actions but they cannot be justified, they supported, pushed for and enabled a great evil that was lockdown. What happened is this taught some people education is not so important, the teachers strikes also reinforced this. Unintended consequences can be brutal but it is true. Mind most kids learn more seeing they world then they will in school for a few days being indoctrinated with woke agenda.

2024-01-13 12:55:37

I bet a lot of these parwnts moan about the cost of living crisis,yet they can afford holidays. You have to laugh.so many crafty people about nowadays.

2024-01-13 17:30:07

How many teachers were fined for striking during term time, surely if even missing 1 day is crucial in a child's education teachers are compounding the issue

Kim Oconnor
2024-01-14 09:37:35

I don't think the fines for this is accurate. My friend got a fine much higher than that.. I'd like to show you both sides . To book a holiday in peak season is double and more the price, in any school holiday... now I speak for my self, I don't think a week or two is going to damage a child's education... I was a single parent, I used to put money by each month for a few days away, before they brought theses fines in,good few years back. Every child deserves a holiday, for there we'll being, and so do parent s.. if you go out of season the prices drop significantly.. So those who can not afford high season prices, ridiculous prices in high season, choose to go in low season. Every body deserves a break, but to go in high season, its unaffordable to most that struggle all ready. .I just want to add , most teachers and lecturer s, were working day and night, twice as hard, in lock down, on computer s.. Right through to evenings...

Luke Burton
2024-01-15 08:19:33

I can sympathise with the sky-high holiday prices outside of term time, but I still think missing out on school is ever so wrong. Surely saving for longer and going on one every other year during the holidays is much better for the child.

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